A Fresh Perspective on Wanting

featured on the essential life

In my life, & I am sure that I am not alone in this, I am in a constant state of wanting.

I want to have. I want to see. I want to touch. I want to feel. I want to get there. I want to be better. I want to achieve more. I want to be fitter. I want to be more spiritually awake. I want to be more open. I want to get to know more people. I want to intimately experience more of this world. I want for so much & this wanting is an endlessness inside of me, for as I achieve, acquire & experience, I continue to want for more.

Seeking Contentment

At the core of wanting is the problematic truth that what I want more than anything else is contentedness. Contentedness suggests the absence of want & as I want to be content, I am once again in a state of wanting. This lack of satisfaction suggests to me that to achieve contentment, I should live in the moment & want for the things that are here & now: the love of my partner; having the privilege of being involved in the lives of the people that I love; enjoying the sounds & the smells of the early morning; being enraptured by the stunning colours of the evening sunset; breathing in the delightful fresh air of a new country; appreciating the life that I have had the opportunity to live & finding happiness in the persistence of that life. These are beautiful things & to live in a state of wanting is to avoid the fullness of the beautiful moments that are happening all around me.

Still, I want

In analysing this want, I can’t help but flip it over in my mind & see the other side of the desires that leave me in a state of ill-at-ease with my eyes focused forward on some sort of imagined finish line – this thing, whatever it is, that I strive for & run toward with such fervour.

For it is in wanting that I have achieved. It is in wanting that I have grown & evolved. It is in wanting that I have sought out betterment & self-improvement. It is in wanting that I have accomplished. It is wanting that has lead me to be a better partner, a better friend & a better person. With all of the places that wanting has taken me, contentment seems more like a stopping point at which to wallow – a place to stick my head in the sand & seek the artificial happiness of rose coloured glasses which allow me to pretend that there is not more that I could do & be.

A New Lens to View Wanting

So I let myself want, & as I do, I grow, shift, change & improve. So I let myself want, & as I analyse this want, I find an unending abyss into which I throw things & watch as they are devoured by an insatiableness. All of my material possessions, my relationships & my accomplishments disappear & give rise to the next wave of wanting. So I let myself want & the waves of want are endless.

In the endlessness of want, I find a startling truth: I am without the resources necessary to achieve fulfilment. I do not have enough money. I do not have enough knowledge. I do not have enough personal drive. I do not have the required aptitude. All of these shortcomings account for a lack of necessity & these lacking necessities account for further wanting. The wanting inside of me is more than an abyss, it is a growing monster & as he grows more vivacious, the ill-at-ease of wanting gives rise to unhappiness.

The Benefit of Want

It is now unhappiness that I hold in my hands & as I lift him toward the light & look at unhappiness from all angles, I find in him, inspiration. In unhappiness there is a desire to move forward & to press on. Forward motion is the remedy for the displeasure & lack of contentment that comes with unhappiness. So I push on. So I strive for more. So I strive to BE more. Suddenly, I am devouring my own tail in the circle of infinite wanting.

The problem with infinite wanting is not unhappiness. The problem with infinite wanting is that I am ruled by biology & this biology dictates that I am a finite creature. The finiteness of my being is the lacking of a resource of paramount importance & that is the resource of time. Time holds sway over us all & as the minutes tick by, & we struggle toward the absence of want, to achieve fulfilment, it occurs to me that in the duality of wanting, the good that it helps me to achieve & the state of discontentment that it leaves me in, “full” is not likely a state I will achieve in this life.

Suddenly, I don't think that's such a bad thing. I think that leads me to self-improvement and unending growth. Growth is the fulfilment of life.