Coveting and the Toy Catalog Debacle

Do you remember last week, when I told you about a situation that went down with my youngest scalawag involving a stolen toy catalog and a kind of spiritual dressing down I got from the situation?

Yes well, I would love to say that it ended there. But it didn’t.

I am still parsing out what is going on, but as you may remember, part of my nearly-finished year-long challenge was to stop coveting things that I do not, cannot, will not or should not have.

“How hard can that be?” you ask yourself. “You are a grown woman! Just get over it!”

But you, see, I can’t.

There are seals which, once they are broken, cannot be resealed. This one, unfortunately, is one of those.


As I suffered through this week, which was the most dangerous part of my creative cycle– the post-accomplishment letdown–I was reminded that earlier this year, I had set out a vague, wishy-washy goal to deal with my wallowing.

Ah yes, like a pig wallows in the knee-deep muck, a time during which my mind becomes a fertile playground for coveting what I do not, cannot, will not and should not have.

You would think, that for a person who has spent years studying her own creative ebbs and flows and learning how to motivate herself for maximum productivity, that I would have the presence of mind to plan for this inevitable trap. But I haven’t.

Just to be clear, here is what happens: I accomplish something–I finish a draft of a novel, or perform a concert, or send my twentieth agent query, or get a podcast episode edited–this something is generally something that is a relatively important goal I have set for myself, and that is not easily accomplished. I will have put all my creative and motivational energies (we’ll call it nervous energy) into getting it done.

Once the something is done, there is a gigantic crash. An implosion. All the nervous energy I had put to work to get the something done are still active, but there is nothing left to do.

So my nervous energy looks around for the first thing it can latch onto, and bless it, it never has to look far. It quickly focuses on one of the squealing piglets of the innumerable unfulfilled desires filling the muck of my heart and starts making me miserable by trying to force those piglets to wear lipstick.

That same nervous energy which is so effective at helping me make what can seem like magic when it comes to a concrete creative goal, when thoughtlessly permitted to wreak havoc in the barnyard of my heart, can become downright dangerous. Dangerous to the point of dragging me, still wearing my lovely pearl necklace, down with it to wrestle those stupid piglets who would think nothing of destroying my jewelry and casting my pearls into the muck forever, never to be seen again.

Yup. I was mudwrestling to put lipstick on a pig while wearing my pearl necklace again this week.

How the Toy Catalog fits in

The fact is, there is a muck-filled barnyard of unfulfilled desires in my heart. This, in and of itself, I can generally ignore during a time of routine. But take me out of the routine for something big and exciting, and the first place my nervous energy wants to take me back to is the barnyard.

So, as I stomped through the knee-high muck this week, trying to just get out of the barnyard so I could get back into a rhythm, I had quite a few nasty conversations with God.

“If you don’t want this for me,” I argued, shaking the toy catalog of unfulfilled desires, “…then why don’t you just take the desire away?”

Can I tell you what God dared answer me?

“You keep waving your stupid cheap toy catalog at me, Lily, when what I want to do is take you to Dior.”

–the infuriating God of the Universe who, admittedly has proven he has very good taste

Was God telling me that I am aiming too low?

Why, yes. Yes he was.

Two pages of a marked up toy catalogue shoved into his coat pocket vs. a lifetime of couture at Dior. Should be thrilling, no?

Can I tell you something? Knowing that I am aiming too low does NOTHING to stem the pain of not getting what my heart thinks it wants.

Burying the Toy Catalog in a cup of tea

I know that if I want to find true contentment, which is, as you know, the very most foundational desire of my heart, I must destroy my desires. This might sound very Zen, but I don’t mean for it to. But the fact that I want anything, no matter in what domain of my life we are talking, is what makes me miserable. It goes back to the ever-escalating Dissatisfaction Cycle.

One of my teabag proverbs this year read:

Let things come to you.

It resonated when I read it, although I wasn’t wallowing at the time I landed on this little gem. Today, after a week of trying to dig my pearls out from the mud, I realize that what it is saying is that I need to start clearing out my barnyard. I need to set fire to my toy catalog.

I need to stop hoping for a 48-piece Paw Patrol jigsaw puzzle, when what is in the plan for me is a lifetime of haute-couture at Dior. My pursuit of the former is putting my un-hoped for future with the latter at risk.

So…if anyone has ideas of how to rake out a lifetime’s worth of unfulfilled desires to make room for satisfaction–not of desires, but quite simply, the satisfaction of my soul, well, I’m all ears.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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