On Feeling Full (aka The Fear of Not Wanting Anything At All)

Panic is how I would describe it. The feeling I had when presented with my cake and candles and the moment to make my wishes (oh yes, even at fifty, I take my birthday wishes très seriously).

Panic because nothing came to mind. I felt full. Full of food and drink, yes, but also full in that place that always has a yearning. That low-level hum of wanting more. That irritating itch of desire that feels unscratchable. That void which drives my drive, my ambition, my force. Devoid of the void, I am...fine?

That’s no way to live. I haven’t spent my life moving countries, leaving jobs and seeking adventures for...fine.

Which makes me wonder, is the yearning for yearning itself? Is it why we jump out of planes, start companies, say yes when we have no clue, take jobs that offer no security, commit to relationships, end them, and go back and do it all over again? Is it why, when you finally meet Oprah and say, ‘this was my dream,’ she responds, ‘well, now you need a bigger dream!’?

Are we caught in a loop of wanting more because of unresolved childhood needs? Because of the consumerist culture that has shaped our country (and extended throughout the globe)? Because of the natural force that drives us through life? Or is it all a coping mechanism for the indescribably glorious but also excruciatingly terrifying ride we are on, requiring us to come up with some goal or purpose or meaning to try to control the inevitable randomness of our lives?

I don’t know.

All I know is that my desires are a reliable clue of who I am in this moment and what I am up to in the next. I don’t always follow them through but I am generally curious enough to hear them out. They are often inconvenient but also intensely accurate in articulating themselves. In other words, they’re a pain in the ass, but I love them and I don’t know how I would navigate life without them.

Hence the panic.

I managed to make my wishes (you know I can’t tell!), with the excitement of someone who still believes in birthday magic and the wariness of someone who knows that the feeling of fullness is fleeting. And that in a week or a day or even in the next moment, I can experience loss again, of some-one or some-thing that was feeding my soul, and I will shake my head at the foolish me of today, who dared to write about the moment in time when her heart was so full, that she wanted for nothing more.