As COVID-19 continues to occupy the attention of most of the world, a question arises: In addition to the end of the pandemic, what do people really want? If you stopped a hundred or a thousand persons on the street and asked them that question, what would their answers — or yours — be?
No way to be sure. But let's take a few guesses.
A good night’s sleep. TV and magazines are flooded with advertisements promising nightly slumber. Indeed, that is a reward greatly to be wished. A history of untroubled sleep is often the product of a clear conscience (a good thing) or a poor memory (a common and quite handy thing.)
Wealth. A recently published research finding states that as the income levels of Americans climb, their happiness does not. But let's break that down and ask, "What would you do with more money?" According to the daily news, millions of Americans would reply, "I would buy one decent meal per day for my loved ones."
Love. That's a big one, with several possible categories. What forms must love take? A good marriage? Healthy children? An agreeable girlfriend or boyfriend? A peaceful neighbor? A well-mannered dog?
Sex. In its best form, sex is usually a delightful companion to love. However, many persons are satisfied with sex itself, without the accompaniment of love. However, sex as a dominant life goal can run off the rails quickly.
Fame. You or I may be content to be an obscure, unknown cipher living in a modest home by the side of the road. But deep in the hearts of many — if not most — humans a voice is muttering (or screaming) "Look at me. Listen to me. I'm special. I don't want to live — and die — a cipher."
Approval. This is a minor league version of Fame. It does not rant or rave. It just lives in hope. A passing smile, nod or "hello" will often fill the bill. A synonym for approval is recognition. It says to other persons, "You are not a rock or a toad. You are a living human. You count. You matter, just as much as I do."
Longing for the past. This mental state is more common among older persons, but is found in all ages. We cannot actually see the future, but we can instantly summon the days of yore, embroider them, worship them and thus blot out valuable days or years of the present.
Serenity. When achieved, this is a golden state of mind, virtually impregnable to the assault of outside or inner attacks. A common component is a Latin phrase "amor fati" — translated variously as "love or acceptance of fate or reality."
Spiritual achievement. A many-sided acceptance of beliefs and possibilities in the fields of religion, philosophy, science, history and other fields of knowledge.
You and I may not identify with any of the goals or ideas I've mentioned above. Or we may ask, "Why should I decide what I want? What difference does it make? "
If you've ever been completely lost — in a dense forest or in a city completely new to you — you probably know the answer to those two questions. If so, congratulations on finding your way home. If not, I send you good wishes for what may await you.