The Roches, a super-talented trio of sisters who can harmonize with the best of ‘em, have a song that always stuck in my craw. It’s called Want Not Want Not.
It’s an upbeat, almost proud bit of lyrical perspective on eliminating desire.
You can take my picture I don’t care
You can have my attitude I don’t care
The limousine I never ride in I don’t care
Go ahead fix my wagon I don’t care
Want not want not want not
I wish there was a true love
I wish there was a great art
I wish there always was enough
But I’d not want if I were smart
Want not want not want not
We’ve heard this before, right? Desire causes suffering
Nonetheless, we want away. We want so bad it hurts.
Some glorify their goals as if they’ll bring instant, never-ending bliss.
Others get obsessive and make their desire a full-time job.
But that can get in the way of appreciating what’s right in front of you.
If we don’t get the thing we want, we feel like dirt. We failed. Life sucks.
Or we get what we want, and it turns out to be something other than what we expected.
So it seems logical that, if we simply stop wanting, we stop feeling bad
Let’s be real. How many of us would just turn off wanting? Really. How many of us can?!
You know, if your life is nothing but meditating in a cave, maybe you can get to the point where you have no desires. But it’s just not the case for anyone I know.
We’re human! We want our lives to be better, richer. To experience more love and peace and fun.
We naturally have desires. When we were fish, we desired food, so we sprouted feet to walk on land. Now we desire fish for dinner, so we sprout keys to the car to take us to the market.
The wanting of something, no matter how trivial or grandiose, is part of the human experience. But here’s the thing.
With desire comes the acknowledgement of what we lack
It has to, doesn’t it? The moment I say I want a new Tesla, I’m identifying the lack of a Tesla in my garage.
(In my case, it also indicates the lack of a garage. Grrrr.)
That was always my beef with the law of attraction. It’s one thing to focus on what you want, which is certainly helpful for its attainment. But it’s another – an impossibility – to ignore the lack of that thing. It’s implicit.
This is both a relief, and cause for concern, for anyone seeking love
As shared by Brain Pickings, psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, in his book Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life, tells us that the partner of our dreams isn’t, exactly, separate from us.
“We fall in love not just with a person wholly external to us, but with a fantasy of how that person can fill what is missing from our interior lives.”
I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine a significant other fulfilling the desire to have a significant other. But this is about how your loved one actually quells a frustration inside us.
“All love stories are frustration stories… To fall in love is to be reminded of a frustration that you didn’t know you had (of one’s formative frustrations, and of one’s attempted self-cures for them); you wanted someone, you felt deprived of something, and then it seems to be there. And what is renewed in that experience is an intensity of frustration, and an intensity of satisfaction. It is as if, oddly, you were waiting for someone but you didn’t know who they were until they arrived. Whether or not you were aware that there was something missing in your life, you will be when you meet the person you want.”
Whoda thunk? We’re so used to the idea that the world exists outside of us, our dream mate must exist outside of us, too.
But maybe it all begins with what’s inside of us, what our psychic persona is made of. Maybe we create our loved ones.
“… the person you fall in love with really is the man or woman of your dreams; that you have dreamed them up before you met them; not out of nothing — nothing comes of nothing — but out of prior experience, both real and wished for.”
It’s like, who we are dictates who our squeeze will be
But before we decide to skip Tinder and search within, let’s look at this a little more closely.
It’s weird to think that what is lacking in our lives – and that feeling of accompanying frustration – indicates our future partner. Isn’t the world more arbitrary? Aren’t we bouncing around the world like ping pong balls on lottery night?
And what about love?
How can true love be boiled down to, essentially, an internal itch that gets scratched?
First, let’s admit there’s different kinds of love.
With romantic love, we think of what the other does for us, like “She makes me feel so good.” or “He brings me such joy.”
But there’s another kind of love. Some call it agape. It’s more of wanting-the-other-person-to-be-happy kind of love. This quote always worked for me.
Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. — Antoine de Saint-Exupery
It’s about shared experience. It’s about giving your loved one the space to act individually, and with you, together. It’s less about how the other serves you and more about you serving everyone.
So how can you find your true love, resolving a personal frustration, and avoid self-centered limitations?
I don’t know. But I have some ideas that are worth trying.
1. Turn the desire into an act of generosity.
We can’t stop wanting. And we can’t avoid the implicit lack that comes with it. So just ditch the paradigm altogether. Instead, look for ways to be the type of person you’d like to have in your life. If there is a law of attraction, you’ll be seeing a likeminded soul.
2. Reduce your frustrations.
Seems counter-intuitive. If, indeed, true love is a frustration resolved, are you less likely to find love if you have fewer of them? (Besides, who says reducing frustrations is any easier than desires?)
All I’m saying is, a less frustrated you is a happier you. And a happier you is more likely to meet a special someone. Just live in the flow of life, letting things be as they are without getting hung up on ‘em.
3. Redefine love.
We’re pre-disposed to want the love of another. Hey, it’s biology, after all. But think differently. Can true love come in many forms? Can it be artificial? Will a cuddle party serve your need for gentle touch? Would you facilitate one?
Life is so mysterious, and surprising, and wacky, and fascinating
Throw yourself into it. Desire all you want. Want all you desire. Just allow whatever happens to happen.
You may find yourself swooning.
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