Opinion: Want vs. need


I’m usually pretty good where that want/need thing is concerned, but lately I’ve been confusing the two because of motorcycles.

My rational mind tells me I want a new one. My emotional self says I need it.

It’s been two years since I sold my last bike, and let me tell you that is a long time to go between rides. And it hasn’t been easy, especially lately. Whenever I go out of the house it seems like everybody has a motorcycle except me, and you know how I hate feeling left out.

(Left out is also the position they gave me in Little League but I try to keep that between me and my therapist.)

Motorcycles have been part of my life most of my life, going back to kidhood and the first bike I ever got close to, my Uncle Verl’s Indian. To my 5-year-old eyes it was the most amazing piece of machinery this side of Grandpa’s tractors.

I still remember standing in the front yard at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, seeing a cloud of dust on the horizon and hearing the roar of an insufficiently muffled engine. Grandpa observed that it was Uncle Verl on his way home. Sure enough, Uncle Verl came skidding into the driveway a minute later, and right away I knew that this was something I wanted to do. And did, for much of my life.

I tell you this so you don’t think I’m one of those guys with a raging case of “middle age” who suddenly decides it’s time to Break Out Of His Shell and Be Truly Free For The First Time In His Life by encasing himself in leather and signing up for a 72-month loan on a new Harley-Davidson.

Which is not to say I don’t have “middle age.” I certainly do. It’s just that it’s more likely to manifest itself by me doing something like taking a spur-of-the-moment trip to Logansport. I get wild like that.

But back to the want/need thing for a minute.

I’m smart enough to know that the desire for a new motorcycle falls directly into the want category. I’ve had a perfectly good two years since selling the old one. It’s not like I’ve gone out to the garage and wept at the empty space where I used to park the bike. Actually, there is no empty space where I used to park the bike. It filled up with junk the minute the bike was gone.

But there’s a component of need in there, too. Men my age need – not want, but need – to possess something of their youthful selves. It’s what keeps us from giving up completely and retiring to a life of sitting on the porch yelling at the neighbor kids to stay off the lawn. We need to know that despite the advancing years and receding hairlines, we’re still capable of feeling as alive as we did back when we were young and bulletproof. Believe me, this explains a lot of ridiculous middle-age behavior.

Besides, motorcycling is really, really fun. I should probably throw that in.

So I want a new one, and I need a new one. Which isn’t to say I’ll get a new one. That’s a financial question. And if you think I’m confused about want and need, wait till you see me debating what I can or can’t afford.

Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Write him at mike@mikeredmondonline.com. For information on speaking fees and availability, visit www.spotlightwww.com.


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