Wants & Needs

Do you know the difference between WANTS and NEEDS?  We all use these terms in our everyday life but do we really understand them. Do I really NEED a coffee or do I just WANT one? I know for sure that every day I NEED smiles, hugs and laughter. I know that every day I WANT breakfast, lunch and dinner. But…. well, just read on.

Well over a year ago, maybe Summer 2013, I was walking down Central Avenue in Wolfville, just another ordinary day in my life, skipping back from the post office, and on the telephone pole was this very random sign (see photo). Why did I choose to go down Central Avenue instead of Main Street? And in saying that, I am not sure why it wasn’t on Main Street where more people could see it… but there it hung on Central. I don’t know who hung it there or what their motivations were, but for over a year this sign has stuck with me for so many reasons and I’m finally going to share them with you.

There is a beautiful person out there who felt it necessary to create this sign and offer up one word – NEEDS – for those struggling with something in his/her life.  It’s just a slip of paper with a word printed on it but it was the saying “Take What You Need” that seriously brought a tear to my eye and a smile to my heart. Some people need advice or help but are too shy or scared to ask for it directly, no matter how close our family and friends are to us. This poster gave those in need a chance to take what would make them feel more complete and comforted without having to ask for it. What an incredible gift, eh?

In case it’s hard to read, there are twelve words on the poster (three were missing when I got to it): Love, Hope, Forgiveness, Faith, Patience, Freedom, Peace, Strength, and Confidence.  For over a year I’ve wondered what the three missing words were, how did those earlier people stumble upon the poster (randomly like me? or guided somehow?), and who specifically needed those words (someone I know? a visitor to Wolfville?).  Will I ever know the answers to these questions? Probably not, but my head and my heart have some ease because they obviously needed the word, took it, and I hope it worked for them.

What words were missing? What could someone have needed that took precedence over Love, Faith or Peace?  I asked around and some of my friends came up with these words: Truth, Balance, Order, Equality, Justice, Structure, Mercy, Inspiration, Wisdom, Understanding, Compassion, and Healing.  In case you’re wondering, I did NOT take anything off the poster. That particular day I didn’t need any of those words. I was feeling complete and well and strong. I think I just needed to see that sign and have it on my mind and carry it with me.

Today is November 10th, and two things are happening. First, I returned to the gym today after a three-month absence, due to injury, and there are so many words on that sign I could have used during these last three months.  I needed confidence, patience, understanding, faith and more, but I did have love and motivation from those around me which pulled me through.  I am getting better, my mind and body are healthier now, and my needs are being realigned.  I wanted to get better, I wanted to be healthy, and I wanted to stop hurting from my injury but those WANTS didn’t matter because I needed strength, love, patience, and confidence before I could get what I truly wanted.  Wants and needs… I see the difference now.

The second thing happening is that tomorrow (as of this writing) is Remembrance Day, a very special day for all of us.  I think this poster came to my mind because I could only imagine being a soldier, heading off to war, and wondering what they would have needed at that time. What words would they have taken?  What words would they have given to someone else?  When they made it back from war, what words would they have needed then?

Why the fascination with this sign you ask?  Well, you have to admit, it’s a very special idea that someone implemented.  I guess the main reason I fell in love and awe with this poster was because someone took the time to step up and potentially improve twelve anonymous lives around them and then, hopefully, those twelve improved people shared some of that improvement with more people until a snowball effect took over.

So, if you ARE the person who hung this sign, or if you know the person who hung this sign, or if you are one of the three people who took what you needed, come find me and let’s discuss it. It’s a wonderful puzzle that has been floating in my head and my heart for over a year.   What took you down Central Avenue that day?  What did you think when you saw this sign?  And what did you NEED at the time?  And I ask you, my readers…. what would you take if you saw this sign today?  What NEED do you need? And if you got it, what would you do with it?

Mike Butler