The Black Ranger
Escaping the false promise of more: why I stopped searching for the missing piece.
As a child, I always needed to have the entire collection. I would drag my mother to toy stores, searching for the last figurine. The final dinosaur: a stegosaurus. The parking garage construction set that would turn my bedroom into the metropolitan utopia of my dreams.
One of the most difficult items to get was a black power ranger. I had all the others, but the black one was nowhere to be found. There was a gaping whole in my line-up. I would dig through bins and tear apart isles looking for a glimpse of black. The last ranger.
Finding it was one of the happiest moments of my little kid life. In that moment, I was fulfilled. There was nothing else I wanted. My collection was complete.
This euphoria might have lasted an hour or a week. But it would pass, as all things do. Those power rangers would soon be tossed in a storage bin, as I made room for my next collection.
The following month I was back, searching tirelessly for the next missing piece.
This pattern continued as I grew older, but it was no longer toys I was seeking. It was the perfect pair of sunglasses. The new sneakers. Limited edition. The $1300 laptop. Men’s magazines telling me what shirt to buy. The cologne to make her melt. The tennis racquet used by professionals. The sweater to complete my winter wardrobe. But it was never enough.
We are wired to seek out novelty. We are rewarded with a rush of dopamine when we acquire the next best thing. It was never the black power ranger I wanted. It was the experience of obtaining it. It’s not the object you desire, but the pleasure you believe it will bring.
It’s a false promise. That pleasure fades away, and we continue to consume compulsively. Walking tirelessly on the hedonic treadmill in the endless pursuit of more.
But when you realize you are enough, you realize you have enough.
You realize that no black power ranger can make you complete.
So you stop searching. And there you find fulfillment.