Thursday, September 20, 2012

I want . . . something?

I wantWhen I think of wanting something, it's a vague sort of feeling. I wanted a piece of lemon meringue pie when my Aunt Anne told me she was having one for her bedtime snack. I didn't want the coffee she would have with it. Water will do just fine. I want a house of my own, but not with that burning, all consuming desire that I would give up everything just to have a house.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if there has ever been anything I've wanted with all the fervor and passion of my soul, something I wanted so much I would give up everything to possess, something that consumed my every waking moment, something I planned for and dreamed about and couldn't live without. Surprisingly, the answer is . . . not really. I am a product of Gram's teaching. She told me my wants wouldn't hurt me, and they haven't, not so much that it consumed me.

I think that's sad in a way, not to want something with every fiber of my being. I've had plenty of what I don't want over the decades of my life (far too much for my liking), but like knowledge and jobs (mostly) and being able to survive through quite a few difficult, and sometimes life or death, situations, I have led a charmed life.

Don't get me wrong. I've been down and out -- as down and out as you can get without dying. I've been homeless. I've had lots of money and no money. I've been stepped on, lied to, stabbed in the heart (more times than I can count), and treated like dirt (and not just by my family), but I've still managed to come out of whatever pile of poo I've been tossed into intact. What do I know from desire that leaves me panting with rage or excitement or even hunger that gnaws at the soul until there's nothing left but a burned out husk and ashes? Nothing. I feel a bit like the Jews. There's always tomorrow. I'll get through or I won't. Pfft!

There have been moments when I thought I wanted something so much I'd die if I didn't get it. I was 5 and 12 and 15 and 22. There are lots of those dramatic moments when you're young and full of passions and unrequited desires. I got over them. I didn't die, although there were times I was so low I had decided to cut off this mortal coil and move on to the next incarnation, but I'm still here. Something always kept me going, messed up my carefully laid plans, and left me stranded on this rocky shore.

I've wept heart sick over broken love affairs. I've raged against my family's inhumanity and casual disregard for me. I've been limp with exhaustion from storms of tears and barely able to drag myself through another pointless day, and yet I still don't think I've ever been utterly consumed so that I'd do anything, say anything, give anything to have my heart's desire, and I wonder if I'm blessed or if I've missed the emotional desire streetcar because I've been unsullied by life.

That is not to say I don't have my scars and my heartaches, but I survived, so how deep could they be? Nothing has killed me yet, although sometimes I wonder if my desire, my need to want something has been irreparably damaged. I want things, but nothing so much that I'm not willing to wait and work and save to get whatever it is I want.

I want a home of my own, some little cabin in the mountains where all I see is trees, the shimmer of sunlight or moonlight on the lake down the path, and land as far as I can see. I won't kill to get it. I'll save and look and plan and it will come. Whatever I want, no matter how long it takes, I manage to get it -- if I don't lose the desire for it along the way or the desire is replaced with something else I'd rather have. That's what I mean about not wanting anything enough.

Maybe I'm looking at this from the wrong angle. Maybe I have been that passionately desirous of things but age and time have worn down the sharp edges and taught me that if it's possible I'll have whatever I want with hard work and giving up the little wants. My desires are quiet things without ardent fervor and the sense of immediacy I felt as a child and a youth. I have been tempered by my experiences and taught that time can be friend as well as enemy. My sharp edges have been smoothed by the waters of life so that I no longer gash anyone who comes near. I guess it comes with age, that slow burning fire of desire and want, so that want is a gnawing hunger inside that will be soothed eventually, secure in the knowledge that the hunger will be assuaged and the want fulfilled -- eventually. I can wait. I've waited for so much and received what I wanted. This, too, will be added in the fullness of time.

Or it won't.

Life's a gamble, but the trail through the dangerous hinterlands is always interesting.

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