The Problem with Getting What You Want (Let's Talk About Desire)
The problem with getting what you want is that there is always more want underneath. Once you satisfy your appetite for food or for power or for things or for experiences, your desire becomes unleashed. There is more to want. More to yearn for, more to long for.
Articulating that desire can be liberating, but the process of identifying it can be frustrating and painful. Because until you figure out what it is that you want you are just sitting in desire for….something. At best you may figure it out by noticing what it is that you don’t want. Or you may get a whiff of something you like and follow that path to get to your next clue.
Then the question becomes, how far down that path am I willing to go? It’s like following the chip down to the bottom of the bag (and finding out what’s at the bottom of the binge). The sip that turns into a bottle, the drag that turns into a pack. The flirting that turns into an affair.
How far down the path can you go without giving up everything that you already have? The binge that ruins your body, the cigarette that ruins your health, the flirtation that ruins your marriage.
Is there a way to walk down the path of your desires without severing all that you have built? And if you know that it may sever it, would you still be willing to walk down to find out what you want?
Our desires are controlled and regulated (“You do what you have to do, so you can do what you want to do!”), but they are also the primary indicators of who we are (“Do what you love!” “Follow your passions!”). That mixed messaging is enough to drive anyone to a split. And split us they do - forcing us to choose between dreams and stability, passion and monogamy, fantasy and reality. Finding room for both calls on us to push our boundaries, find compassion for ourselves and make room for more than the either/or. It asks us to approach our desires with less judgement and more permission - regardless of whether or not we act on them.
Because getting intimate with our desires brings us closer to our selves. We may not always get clear on what we want, but it helps to be kind enough to our selves so that we can feel the truth - that there is something that we want.
But what if we can’t figure out what that is? Is it enough to just be aware of our wants? Is it enough to just know that desire burns through us and that we pay attention to it? That we do not dismiss it or talk it away or stuff it down with cookies or try to override it with extreme busy-ness. Is that enough?
I don’t know. But it will have to be for now.