I want. I want and I want and (sometimes) I ache from my “wanting”.
But before I tell you what I want, I’ll share something I don’t want: to be caught “wanting”. Truth is that after all these years of meditation and yoga and spiritual practice, I still struggle finding balance between desire and suffering.
Because I do want. I want to be “that girl,” the one who can pull off dreadlocks and look like the right kind of messy. I want to get certified to teach yoga and speak multiple languages (Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, and Farsi, in case you wanted to know). I want to be invited to do speaking gigs where I share something that means something to those listening. I want to be able to quote Joseph Campbell and Jung, and I want to know what the hell post-modernism is, but never, ever, ever inject anything into a conversation about it just to show off, like I’ve seen people do.
I want to bypass two years of graduate school and three-thousand clinical internship hours and just be a licensed therapist already. I want to be more patient, and kinder, and I want to want more on those days where all I want is to be acne-free (still breaking out in my 30s… Is this some kind of karma?).
I want to travel, be of service and volunteer more. Then I want my contradictions: I want stay put, sleep in more, and say “no” to one more project. I want zazen, yoga and spirit. I want laughter, matte lattes with friends, and I want more orgasms too.
Here’s the thing. We’re usually pooh-poohed for “wanting”. Desire is equated with suffering. Afterall, we’re supposed to be more evolved and less superficial, right? Well, maybe. Or maybe there’s a difference between the kind of “wanting” that pushes us to our edges and fertilizes growth, versus the kind of “wanting” that is in essence, chronic dissatisfaction.The question is: How do we avoid suffering and get back on course with the kind of desire that can be enlivening and delicious? First, we need to “want” what we’ve got. We need to be grateful and appreciate what is. Then, we need to build it up by “wanting more” in a way that is invigorating to our lives.
What do I have? I have a great $22 hairstylist, the ability to read Eat, Pray, Love in Italian (Mangia, Prega, Ama), passable conversation skills in Italian, and a t-shirt that proves that I completed a 30-day Bikram yoga challenge. I have students who watch me work a room, and coaching clients who are open to what I say on the phone. I’m making my way through a Joseph Campbell reader and I’m one hell of an underliner, even if I can’t quite quote him yet. And Jung? Well, he’s in the next chapter that I’m studying in the pursuit of a license to practice therapy. I have my coaching certification, and I´m going on five years of experience working with clients. I have my´Challenge Day´ community. I have all of that free brain space left over from not knowing what post-modernism is, not to mention better skin than I had in my teens, and more patience and kindness than I had a year ago, or the year before, and the year before that…
I have a few grand adventures under my belt, Mexico, Italy, Paris and London, and I have a home base with a big orange leather chair that is cozy for sitting in, reading in, writing in, and snuggling in. I have the opportunity to give more in each moment, and the knowledge to give only what I can. I have the ability to say “no” with kindness when I pass on one more project. I do have zazen, actually! And zazen is with me in any moment that I can connect to my breath. I have yoga, the most kick-ass lululemon yoga mat, an office to practice in. And there’s no doubt that I have “spirit”. We all do.
I have laughter, and for sure I have friends. I´ve been cultivating an amazing bunch of women in my life who ring true with who they are and I appreciate them immensely. I have a boyfriend who knows all of my facial expressions and the difference in the subtlest shift in my tone of voice, one who knows all of my secrets, who knows and knows and knows, and doesn’t run away from his knowing… And isn’t that what all of us really want? Someone who knows us and doesn’t run away?
You see, I want to be conscious about desire, but on the other hand, there is something enlivening about it, something that provides a little push-pull to my existence that can be used to light up a fire from within. It’s “wanting” that has pushed me to do all that I’ve done with my life, and it’s “wanting” that pushes me to grow a bit more everyday.
There’s a playful dance that can happen with “wanting” and “desiring”, and it’s a good dance, provided we choose to be the ones who lead. In order to lead, we must drop the comparisons, the attitude of lack, and we also need to stop pushing away how damn good it is right now, because it isn’t exactly like the stuff over there.
We can rock our “desire” if we use it to appreciate all that it has brought to us thus far. We need to ride it through and through, so it will never stop showing us what else in life there is to explore.
Now, dig in. Go deep.
What sort of things do you want? And what have you got already, that can support you while you explore your wants and desires?
Kate Swoboda is a Life Coach, teacher and writer who works with women from around the world who are interested in living lives of courage, integrity, passion, and power. She’s the author of the Courageous Living Guides and creator of the Courageous Play and Create Stillness retreats. She’s excited about learning languages, reading as many books as she can, getting bendy-stretchy on the yoga mat, the quest for the next amazing chai latte, and running.