I’m going to reference Buddha and the Spice Girls, the Bible and Jerry Maguire, the Serenity Prayer and Tag Team. Because that’s just how I roll.
People want things. It can’t be helped.
In the space between the wanting and the having, there is pain.
That pain can diminish you or it can make you stronger.
It can diminish you when you judge the pain and play the victim. As the Buddhist teaching goes, it’s like being shot by an arrow and responding by shooting yourself with a second one. Maybe you feel so strongly entitled to what you want that you feel the lack is unacceptable. Otherwise maybe you feel so unworthy that even the wanting itself seems undeserved and wrong. Either way, the first arrow can’t be helped, but the second one can. Either way, because that second arrow is shot even though it didn’t need to be, there’s suffering.
And either way, the suffering comes from being in denial of something that, simply, is. There’s the wanting which can be delicious, and there’s the not having which can be excruciating. But they both simply are, and neither demands a second arrow.
Deny either one, and you suffer, with a hurt that is far worse than any amount of a first arrow’s pain, no matter how wrenching that pain may be in itself. Every moment with the suffering of an extra arrow is a little bit of unnecessary hell, unwarranted demoralization, avoidable hopelessness, pointless despair.
But accept both the wanting and the not having, acknowledge them together, and on the one hand you can find some peace of mind, and on the other you might find yourself motivated toward positive action. Maybe you’ll end up with what you want. Maybe what you want will change. Maybe you won’t get what you want and you’ll come to terms with that and move on. No matter how it plays out, being okay with both the wanting and the not having means just that — it means you’ll be okay, no matter how it plays out.
I keep learning more and more to be with what is. To keep doing that, I now think the time has come for me to acknowledge some things to myself and others. To face them head on. To admit them as fully and straightforwardly as possible. To recognize that I’m neither entitled to nor unworthy of any of it, but that they all simply are. As the Spice Girls say, “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.”
I want to face what is.
All of it.
I want a life that’s full of joy.
And I want to embrace all the pain that’s a natural part of such a life.
I want to be done with judgment, victimhood, entitlement, unworthiness, suffering, denial, hell, demoralization, hopelessness, despair. I want to be an exemplar of acceptance, responsibility, sharing, worth, joy, consciousness, reality, inspiration, hope, satisfaction.
I want to be productive.
And I want to be lazy.
I want to always be growing as a person, learning, improving, accepting everything along the way.
Even the resistance to improvement that comes up.
And even the idea that constant improvement may not be the best goal in life compared to just being okay with what is.
I want to embrace the complexity and the simplicity in life, in myself and in others.
I want to be open, authentic, honest, aware, mindful.
I want to be kind, empathic, generous, nurturing, inclusive, understanding, forgiving, appreciative, grateful.
I want to contribute to the world becoming a more compassionate place where people listen more than they talk and care more than they demand.
And I occasionally want to be selfish and indulgent. Just occasionally.
I want to remain present to the fact of my being a space that’s big enough to contain everything I experience, good and bad, and big enough to contain everything everyone else experiences, good and bad. So that I will as much as possible remain in touch with the feeling that I’m free and capable of riding whatever waves take shape on the ocean of life. And so that others will feel that my presence supports them in feeling the same thing for themselves. So that they may turn to me as someone to support them in being everything they are and everything they want to be, in doing everything they do and everything they want to do, in feeling everything they feel and everything they want to feel, including coping with everything they experience which they wish they didn’t have to.
I want to be capable of coping on my own with everything I experience which I wish I didn’t have to. And I want to know that I never have to do it alone if I don’t want to. I want to know that when sadness or anger or fear rear their heads, that I won’t see them as ugly, and that others around me won’t either. That these things will be welcomed simply as what is, simply as an acknowledgment of my basic humanity, and that space will be made for them by myself and others. I want to make friends with those feelings and experiences, so that my life will be as full of companionship as possible. And so that my companionship with those things that other people would cast away, combined with the companionship of other people who will be present for me while I’m present to those things, might all make my life all the richer.
I want to make art. Stories and songs and who knows what else. And I want to make a living making art. And I want that art to make a difference for people and the world. A real difference. All the difference. And I want to always remain in touch with the hope that this is possible and not a pointless pipe dream.
I want a sustainable, sane, healthy world that works for everybody, and this includes accounting for everybody not liking or agreeing with or getting along well with everybody else. And I want to always remain in touch with the hope that this is possible and not a pointless pipe dream.
I want to be healthy, and I want to be okay being healthy even when I may not embody its stereotypical appearances.
I want to experience deeply real and thoroughly enjoyable connection with people I care about and who care about me, and I want those connections to fill my days. All full up. So that my cup runneth over and the extra spills off into other people’s cups.
I want community, real community, which means people giving gifts together. I want to know that there are people around who want to contribute to me, and who value what I have to offer them in return, who bring out the best in me and in whom I bring out the best. I want us to make each other feel a sense of genuine belonging and home.
I want an integrated life, where I don’t have to earn my money over here, and have fun over there, and cultivate meaningful friendships over here, and contribute to others over there. I want to make a living with people who care about each other, doing things we love, in ways that make the world a better place.
I want love in my life, true love, as part of that integrated life. I don’t want to go do all those other things away from someone to love and then have to work hard to find time for each other, just to be together for a meal or a movie or some chores and errands. I want to be with a woman who can be at least to some extent a partner in the creativity and livelihood and friendship and fun and making a difference that is all combined as the foundation of my life, the mission of my life. And with that foundation in place, I want it to be downright easy for each of us to find time for whatever else we might want to find time for apart from each other, all the while deeply knowing that we’re unconditionally giving our relationship everything it needs to thrive, to be extraordinary, to be the kind of relationship that others aspire to have in their lives.
I want to give long, long, long kisses and caresses that simultaneously and paradoxically feel both purely, unabashedly sensual and also utterly, transcendentally spiritual. Yeah. I want that. A lot. And extremely fortunate shall be the gal on the receiving end.
I want to be courageous. And that doesn’t mean that I want to be fearless. I want to pursue things as much as possible out of love and desire and positivity, and not out of fear. But I want to be willing to acknowledge my fears, and I want to be willing to act bravely in spite of them. Because that, and only that, is the true courage that counts for far more than mere confidence ever could.
I want my sensitivity and vulnerability to be seen by myself and others not as weaknesses but as the very source of all the best and most powerful things about me.
I want to be playful and silly whenever I really feel like it.
And I want to be quiet and serious whenever I really feel like it.
I want to enjoy journeying more than destinations.
I want the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
I want to spend more time playing the piano while people sing along. It’s seriously just about the most joyful thing on the planet for me. No, seriously. Please. Sing while I play. Often.
I want people to know the things I want, so at worst they can know me and at best they might support me in pursuing the things I want.
I want people to let others know what they want, for the same reasons.
I want us all to contribute to each others’ wants when we feel there’s opportunity to do so that’s authentic and meaningful, and never to feel obliged to do anything for ourselves or others that doesn’t feel authentic and meaningful.
And I want the freedom to add to and otherwise revise my list of wants, whenever I want to.
And (bonus near-reference to Queen, or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, take your pick)…
I want it all right now.
And I also want to not want so much.
I want the patience to be okay with not having what I want right away. And acceptance from others for me wanting all these things and holding all these ideals but not yet being fully cooked, and maybe never, ever getting there. The acceptance of myself and others that this is all a direction to head, and that it’s the heading in the direction that counts more than the distance one may travel. I want to be loved for the man I want to be and the man I almost am, even if I may forever remain only almost there. I want that to be good enough for others. And for myself.
And I want the peace of mind to be okay with not having any of it, ever. The peace of mind to be okay with as much pain as the first arrow may inflict on me in that space between the wanting and the having, so that I never shoot myself with a second arrow, while all along never, ever feeling like I have to deny even in the slightest what I really, really want.
Whoomp! There it is.