We were in Waco with my folks last week, and trips to the homeland mean lots of TexMex, lots of love and two grandparents spoiling two grandsons. My parents have always been exuberantly generous, but when you throw kids in the mix, things go absolutely bonkers. When my dad picked us up from the Dallas airport, his first order of business was to take his grandsons to the Lego store. Dad walked them into the shop and told them a dollar amount to spend, a figure that to a 10 and 11 year old provided the same rush the old prospectors must have felt when they hit the mother lode. Twenty minutes later, Seth came up to me with several items, plenty to work with but far less than his Pa told him he could spend. When I asked Seth whether he wanted anything else, he said, “This is enough. I don’t want to be greedy.” I tussled his hair. I was beaming.
A couple days later, Seth had a craving for a full-tilt breakfast at one of the local greasy spoons, just the sort of thing his Pa loves. “Go ask Pa if he’ll take you,” I said, “he’d love that.” Seth glanced down, uncertain. “I don’t know,” he answered. “I don’t want to be greedy.”
I’m not sure how this little streak of maturity has hit Seth all of a sudden, but he’s learning something of immense value in this glitzy, grabby world of ours. Seth is learning that there is enough, that he has enough. Seth is learning that we don’t have to stuff our fists and our mouths. Like most of us, he’ll surely continue to struggle with this, but Seth is on the right track. I’m shiny proud of him.
In the years to come, though, there will be another truth for Seth to learn, one that may come just as hard. It’s not time just yet, but soon enough, soon enough. This truth requires nuance, as well as courage. Someday, Seth will need to learn that there are things he’s right to be greedy for, some things he should long after and want more of, some shades of goodness that rightly leave us always hungry for another taste. While selfishly hoarding is one kind of evil, surrendering our good desires and our good hopes is an evil every bit as vile and ruinous. We are right to crave after (be greedy for, if you want to put it boldly) true friendship and deep love and work that matters. We want more goodness, more truth, more depth.
I’ve seen many men and women who, in their late years, know a meager, hollow existence. I want a streak of passion to sizzle up their spine. I want something to begin a slow burn in their gut, in their mind, in their body. I want them to be at least a tad greedy. Greedy for life.