Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Cobalt Blue Tea Kettle

Last week I happened to pass by a thrift shop and saw inside, high up on a shelf, a marvelous little cobalt-blue tea kettle, on sale for a mere $8.00. It was flawless, it looked brand new. (I found a similar one on sale on the Internet for $60, and another at $119.) I had no cash on me at the time and I resolved, at soon as possible, to return and buy it. It matched other items in my blue kitchen. I had bowls and dishes the exact same color.

I began obsessing about that blue kettle. I HAD to have it, I just had to. I had never seen one like it before. I wanted it desperately. It seemed, well, urgent that I go get the money and come back and buy it.

It was this sudden sense of urgency that puzzles me.

On Thursday I had an appointment across the street from the shop and arrived early, for the express purpose of going and getting that blue tea kettle. But when I went inside, it was no longer on the shelf. Someone else had bought it. I was devastated. It had become such an obsession. Why? I was willing to spend grocery money on it. I already HAVE a tea kettle--a plain, boring, rather pedestrian aluminum one. So I didn't NEED another one. But it wheezes and sputters instead of whistles and it was a hand-me-down--why not replace it with something more functional and attractive? And that cobalt blue color!, the sleek, smooth design--everything about it was perfect. And I HAD to have it--that one and no other, right then, right there.

In retrospect, it puzzles me, the force of that sense of urgency about that little blue tea kettle. It got me thinking about how strong some compulsions and obsessions are and how much they rule us. Just a random rumination today on Attachment and Obsession, and particular objects we covet and ultimately don't get to have. How does one detach oneself from the urgent longings for certain material objects?

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