Recently I’ve been reading a great deal, and it’s been a wonderful thing to return to. I’ve found that all too frequently I can’t sit down and just read because I often feel there are too many things that need to get done. I should go to the pottery studio and work on that teapot for my mom, or the darkroom to print the sweatshirt for my brother or a nice bike ride or accomplish any number of items on my to-do list.

It’s no wonder then that reading Benjamin Hoff’s section on “The Tigger Tendency” in The Te of Piglet hit close to home. Too often, Hoff says, we bounce from one thing to another gathering up things with little thought as to whether or not they will provide true happiness or just fill time. I had read the Tao Te Ching before, some sections numerous times, but was like one of Thich Nhat Hahn’s bells of mindfulness.

For the most satisfaction to come from something, Hoff says, it is important to know what you want and to be patient about it. Tigger often finds himself in trouble because of he rushes headlong into things without thought. He eats thistles because he believes he likes everything, or winds up stuck in a tree because he is too impatient to climb carefully. Hoff tells the story of the Zen Master and the Samurai, and how the Zen Master delayed serving dinner to the Samurai until the Samurai was so hungry he was ready to eat elsewhere. Finally, the Zen Master gives him a simple bowl of soup and the Samurai finds it is the best he ever had, because he had waited for so long and become so hungry.

Like Tigger, I frequently am tempted by the idea of instant gratification, particularly in the grocery store. Despite all of the reminders to plan meals and recipes in advance, and to shop with blinders on, only seeing what’s on the list, I all too easily cave to the temptation to get one little treat. Later though, I discover that the little treat isn’t something I actually needed and usually I wind up regretting the money I spent on it, even if it is only a few dollars here and there.

Last month, I bought a  guitar on eBay. Though it was relatively cheap as far as guitars go ($100), it was the shallow bowl style guitar I had wanted for almost ten years. After nearly a month of watching different guitars on eBay I finally bid on this one, and, having waited anxiously for a week, when it arrived it was the guitar I always wanted. The first guitar, which I had simply purchased and walked away with, with no anticipation before hand, did not hold nearly the same amount of attraction and I wound up selling it a few years later.

Recognizing the difference between genuine needs and instant gratification is a principal that I’m trying to incorporate in making my Christmas presents: like many at Queercents have talked about, rather than running out and buying presents I’m learning new crafts to give gifts. Though it’s much easier to find something in a store and cross that person off you’re list, the prolonged effort put into each gift can make it much more special. From learning basic woodworking and making cuttingboards, to having a friend instruct me in pottery, some of the gifts I’ve already made have filled me with a wonderful sense of accomplishment and the time and anticipation in making them has made me eager to give these gifts.