Allow me to describe what I keep referring to as The Parable of the Red Clogs, a tale of desire and displacement.
We live in my grandma's red brick house, situated in a town that can't sustain a new business to save itself unless it's a hair salon, of which our town has three. There is, though, one old standby that has lasted decades and will carry on in perpetuity no matter it's eventual fate: the hardware. Weathered, unchanged, too good to be true but, actually—impossibly—it is true. Fortunate to us, it is situated in a way so it is what we see out our westerly windows. Specifically, we see a vintage light-up street sign that says DUTCH STANDARD PAINTS inlaid on a red clog motif. If ever the hardware goes the way of mom-and-pop hardwares the world over, I hope I can buy the sign off of them. It is a relic of childhood, a totem of small-town survival and grit in the age of Amazon, and it's a sign with a red clog . . . and I love clogs.
I am the proud owner of a pair of navy rubber German clogs with a tipped-up toe. I live in them, even in winter. They look identical to the clog on the hardware sign, except for the nagging and obvious difference that they are not red. The company sells a red pair. Do I need them? No, I do not, except when I am going through anything hard, whereby my answer becomes Yes, clearly I do. Buying an identical product that I do not need goes against my personal ethos and feels irresponsible in a time when we are raising a baby on a single income and trying to purchase land. Yet, when I am feeling blue, unappreciated, lonely, and sometimes even when I'm hungry, I hear on repeat: You deserve the red clogs — No, you need the red clogs.
What I need, I know, is companionship with humans and especially with God, not German rubber. Displacement of emotion is a curious, real thing. The mental back-and-forth over the clogs happens often enough that I use it as a gauge for how on- or off-track my faith compass is. Does that sound absurd to you? Maybe it is. But by assessing how badly I desire Stuff, I know how badly I need to express gratitude for what I do have. In my life gratitude is found through prayer. Prayer and paying attention; the former makes the latter notably easier.
A quick examination shows just how much God has put into my life; all of my wildest dreams have come true through what can only be divine intervention. I have wild dreams percolating yet, but on the whole I am blessed beyond reason. Our two-month old is growing astoundingly and I get to witness each moment of her life. My husband loves us and cares for us and makes me laugh every day. I know how to knit us clothing and, as of recently, how to sew. I can darn a goshdarn sock. Mark brews delicious libation for our whole family to enjoy. I live near family and we eat healthful food. Junk food, too. What else is there to want for? Not red clogs. (At least . . . not today.)