In my experience, thirst starts out as a gentle want and eventually becomes a desperate need. Somewhere in the middle I have no idea thirst is. If I ignore it, I am putting myself at risk. The tug between the two is a perplexing one. It is good to indulge the want up to a limit. I rarely get to the limit, so indulging my want in this case is helpful. Yet, for reasons I rarely understand, I tend to put it off. As my thirst intensifies, I begin to pay more attention to it but until it seriously registers I often do nothing about it even though I know by then it will be too late.
There is a tension between my heart and head knowledge that plays itself out in the course of a day. Facts, data, and information do not trump heart desires. In the end it is as if I am fighting within myself! I find myself in a familiar space with many others. One man pleaded for help; “My heart and kidneys are fighting each other; call a truce to this civil war.” (Psalm 25.17) He knew he had the freedom within to deal with it but he was unable to stop the fight before it began.
Describing the heart versus head tension using a thirst metaphor reminds me that I can act.
I can pre-decide how I want to satisfy my thirst. Even before I am thirsty, I had a good idea what I need to do. In general it is two liters of water during the course of the day. If I am under extra stress or consuming extra coffee, then more water is a good thing. Having a game plan pre-empts the questioning that comes with wants and needs.
I can do the right thing even when nobody is watching or cares. When I have a mandatory need for water, drinking is a matter of survival. When it is optional I have a choice. Doing the right thing when it is optional sets the stage for better outcomes.