WantPosted: March 21, 2016
The plot might not be totally coherent or existent yet (more on that to come), but the fiction I’m writing has to do with desire. It’s about want and how you react to it. Do you ignore the impulse because you “shouldn’t” feel it, or do you go after it? What happens when you stop doing and feeling what you think is expected of you and instead turn yourself over to urge and sensation?
I’ve been pondering this idea quite a bit (kind of all the time in the back of my mind) and even trying to do some research about it, so the quotes below are really interesting to me right now — because they largely go against the “go for it” idea of identifying what you want and taking steps to get it.
The concept, of course, is a Buddhist one — desire is the cause of all suffering. If you think you want or need something external, that’s only going to result in pain. But the Buddhist ideal of enlightenment has always felt wrong to me. Perhaps in that perfect place of nirvana, there would be no need for desire, but guess what — we are embodied creatures existing in this life, and we need to meet it where it’s at. At least, that’s my theory.
I also just find it frustratingly passive. Maybe that comes of my own should-ness.
Far too much of my life, especially as a girl and younger woman, was spent doing what I felt I should do and not what I probably shouldn’t. Much of that was about how I was taught to behave and be and feel — how many, if not most, girls are taught to behave and be and feel.
But I have regrets — and ironically they are about the “bad” things I didn’t do, or didn’t think to do, or was afraid to do.
The story I’m trying to write stems from my feelings about that. My narrator and her life are not based wholly on me — but my feelings and experiences (or the ones I didn’t let myself have) inform hers.
So. Let’s take a look.
“When I run after what I think I want, my days are a furnace of stress and anxiety. If I sit in my own place of patience, what I need flows to me and without any pain. From this I understand that what I want also wants me, is looking for me and is attracting me.” Rumi
This goes directly at the idea of desire as suffering and offers a particularly lovely-sounding alternative: If I stop wanting, all the anxiety and pain and heat of that want will drain away, and what I need will not just come to me — it will flow to me. And then it ends with the comforting idea that, after all, it turns out that “what I want also wants me.” I don’t have to look and work for it; it will find me itself.
But will it really? And what about how the word “want” changes to “need” in the middle — it’s no longer what I want that will arrive, but what I need. So is that the universe telling me it knows what’s best? It’s really that I only think I want what I want?
And what about the idea (perhaps subversive) that the furnace of stress and anxiety and pain actually has its own attraction — maybe that wanting can actually feel quite good?
I think Rumi’s ideas are meant to be comforting, but they strike me as being far too passive.
“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson’s words leave me conflicted as well, as much as I’d love to just listen to them. It’s a beautiful idea, but I have a hard time believing that all a person needs to do is decide “I want that,” and their will be done. Some work is required no matter what, right? If you want to finish a marathon, you’d better put on your running shoes and train. If you want that job, you’d better polish your resume and sell yourself in that interview. If you want to marry (or even just kiss) that beautiful man over there, you’d best go introduce yourself, or find a friend who can arrange a meeting, and get to know him.
Again. The passivity makes me uncomfortable.
“As soon as you stop wanting something, you get it.” Andy Warhol
I suppose there are several different ways to look at this one. In one way, it’s a “watched pot never boils” kind of situation, a “don’t think of a pink elephant.” If you don’t want that job, or that house, or that person, suddenly that’s what will fall in your lap. So hey, just cease to want it, and you’re good! This is advice that it’s really hard to act on or believe in. How can you just — stop?
But in another way, it’s back to Rumi. If you stop directing all your energy toward your desire (and let’s be honest, desire is exhausting), maybe the energy will change, things will smooth out, and you’ll see the path you need to take to get to what you want. Maybe it’s not about inaction, but just a different perspective.
“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” Darryl Anka
I love this one. It has been constantly and famously misattributed to Albert Einstein. How I wish Einstein had actually said it! That would be a perfect dovetailing of science and spirituality, in my book. As it stands, we have to make do with appreciating the words of one Mr. Anka.
I totally buy into the idea of everything being energy. From a young age I had an inkling that “God” was really just the hum of life, the pull of gravity, the wind blowing in the trees. When I found out what “Om” meant, I welcomed it as an old familiar presence whose name I’d never known. (And eventually got it tattooed on my arm.)
And how fantastic — if I only match my frequency to that of what or whom I want, it’s done, and that’s my reality. And no, that’s not just an idea; it’s science. Bam.
I would love to get fully on board with this one. And I suppose it has its truths — sometimes you do end up on the exact same frequency as someone else, or everything in your life falls into place and you feel like you’re “in the flow.” It’s a beautiful thing, in love or in work, in yoga or out on the running trail. I’ve felt it.
But it’s fleeting.
Still. It’s the one I want to hold onto.