If She Knew What She Wants - The Bangles (mp3)
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - Devo (mp3)
Lately I've been witness to a similar problem repeated under varying circumstances. I've been reminded, basically, that most people don't really know what they want. They only know what they think they want.
This started milling around in my head when I read an AP story about a couple from Miami who moved to Hazelton, North Dakota. They moved because that small town was offering financial and residential incentives to try and induce new residents. Any town whose sign says "POP. 240" needs to do something, right? The story, unfortunately, has a predictable outcome. Town thinks the newbies are odd. Doesn't like the cut of their jib. They don't fit in. Their new diner steals business from the other town diner. Couple gets a little tired of it, can't convince their elderly parents to move up with them, and thus returns to Miami.
My church, bless its heart, is very much Hazelton, North Dakota. It wants new people. It really really wants new people. Young couples. Teenagers. Energetic college grads. Whipper-snappers, basically. But what our church doesn't want is to have to adjust or change or adapt. And I'm not talking electric guitars or the words of hymns projected on TV screens so much as just anything at all.
A handful of relatives and friends are fast approaching 40 without ever having been married, and two or three have struggled to maintain even much of a lengthy relationship. Almost all of these people struggle, to one degree or another, with compromise. They're all very particular. They want what they want; they live how they live; they expect what they expect. They can't seem to allow others to come into the picture and muck with their routine, yet at the same time they constantly seem to expect others to adjust and change for them.
I've mentioned this part before, but I'm reminded of my high school days when I would vehemently assert that I couldn't possibly date any girl who didn't love both Rush and the X-Men. Somehow, mysteriously, week after week, I went dateless. To be fair, I would have been dateless anyway, but had I stubbornly clung to my expectations -- especially since those weren't really the only two on my list -- I might not have had a first date until I discovered America Online in the early '90s, when I could have discovered someone in the "Girls Who Love Rush and The X-Men Kick Ass!" chat room.
Politically, we're in the same exact place. We want change. We want our elected leaders to work together. We want teamwork. Except that we don't any of these things on any issue that matters to us unless it can be done exactly 100% like we expect it, and if those other people won't see things our way, then screw 'em, because they're wrong and we're right.
In all of these cases, what seems undeniable is that all of these misguided yearnings leave us reeking with unhappiness. It probably kicks into a vicious cycle where we get more convinced of what we want because we're a stubborn species. We don't like changing course. We don't like admitting we're wrong, or that we want the wrong things.
When, exactly, did "uncompromising" turn into something worthy of praise and admiration?
People are happier the more accurate they are at identifying their wants, the things that feed their souls with satisfaction. Happier still of those wants are capable of adapting, shifting, maturing. Very few of us are William Tell in this aspect. We all miss the mark once in a while. But with my church, with friend/singletons who claim to want a relationship, with small towns that beg for new residents, and with our politics, until we can work up some way to be honest with ourselves, happiness will continue to hop out of our reach like that chicken Rocky Balboa can't quite seem to catch.