needing is one thing, and getting, getting's another

(1 comment)
April 13, 2013

I remember seeing this video but not paying it nearly enough attention; both the video and the song are terrific. (You can get an MP3 from the video version, which I find a lot more viscerally appealing than the (also good) studio track.)

Its chorus "Needing is one thing, and getting, getting's another" brings up a point that might sound pedantic as hell, but for me is serious, and existential, and came close to disrupting a romance of mine at one point. (And I found out while writing this, might echo for my vision of relationships to this day.)

What does it mean to "need" something?

Some part of me (a well-meaning yet still smart aleck inner child part) wants to say it HAS to be existential; without the needed object, the needing subject would fail to exist. "You can't live without me? Why aren't you dead yet?"

But that seems a little blunt. Some old guy might need his meds, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'd die without him, or right away. As a young man I needed my dad, but I survived his passing. (The romance I mentioned stumbled (but recovered, for a long while) over my reticence of using that kind of "I need you" language; I think I might have used that logic of "I survived my dad's death, so I guess I'd survive you leaving me or something happening to you." For a guy who runs I really have my moments, or lack of them.)

So is it just a form of "extreme want"? Or to avoid the side effects of not-having? That seems to lack a certain rhetorical punch...

OK, I think I figured it out, and actually figured it out for the first time, after pondering it a few days, while writing some disclaimers as a now-deleted second part of that smart aleck paragraph, which I then decided to save for this conclusion: properly used, "need" IS existential, not necessarily in terms of life or death, but a true need is such that lacking the needed object the thing needing would become a whole 'nother thing. I survived my dad's death, but I'm not nearly the same guy I would have been with him, I think. The old guy without his meds just isn't the same person.

(A "needed" but lost romantic interest, then, should leave a husk of a man or woman behind. He or she may grow back into something stronger, but it will be strong but different. Hmmm... This may be why I find "I want you" sexier than "I need you". I worry I had my "need" romances in high school and college and what's left, the me that is... doesn't want to need, or be subject to the responsibility of being needed. I guess I prefer love that springs from a rich luxury of two self-realized and independent people over a "need" that is tough to separate out from codependence, or other types of dependence, like financial.)

Thanks for reading. Writing helped me figure some stuff out. Let me know what you think.