Desire as a theme has threaded its way through my life forever for the simple reason it’s one of my central life challenges – to know and cultivate what I want, without grasping and without denying.
To declare “I want this” whether this is… a lamb chop, to build mastery in a subject, to pick lettuce mindfully in the garden, to walk in the deep green woods instead of meditating, to lie in bed on a workday & read, to run inside and hug Bob just because.
To choose & then plunge all ten toes in, building focus and remaining steadfast in that choice.
To burn with the fire of desire and build a container for that fire, without dodging away into Shadow Comforts and Time Monsters (for me email!)
Lately, I’ve been down in the mouth about what a challenge desire is for me. I feel I have made little progress, and my life is being frittered away instead of doing what I truly want. Then this morning journaling, I had the loving thought that life challenges are aptly named because they are life long. My relationship to desire may be “learning me” for as long as I’m breathing. To want it to be different is a waste of energy & keeps me from knowing my desires.
What’s one of your life challenges? Can you have a smidgen of mercy for its shape and form in your life right now?
Here’s what else keeps me stuck around knowing what I want and taking action on it – I sincerely hope these insights will be of use to you.
- Thinking that knowing what you want means it will just happen – poof! Magic. Knowing is crucial; you gain a rush of energy when you claim what you want, and you have to keep claiming it over and over again. I knew I wanted to be with Bob and we had to work to make our relationship happen. When you fall in love at 45, it’s complicated. Then there was my own chasm of fear of being loved that I had to choose to walk away from. I kept choosing Bob, choosing love. Desire fuels commitment but doesn’t replace it. Does that resonate?
- Believing that knowing one desire makes it easier to say no to others. Clarity is stunningly beautiful and you still have to grieve being a human who can create / connect / build / love only so many ideas / projects/ people / causes in your life time. Skipping the grieving has kept me stuck in not choosing & cut me off from being intimate with new desires. How about you?
- Being petulant in your desires. “I want that so I shall have it!” I blush to admit I do this – often (Bob is nodding his head). Mature desire means knowing that wanting and getting aren’t the same thing, and that compromises and patience grease desire’s flywheel. How can you cultivate patience? (Do tell!)
- Confusing giving expression to a desire with its outcome. My greatest and most consistent heart’s desire is always, always to create – anything! all the time! – and yet because my creations rarely come out the way I envision, it’s easy for me to conclude my desires are misleading or not meant to be (I think this is where we get stuck looking for our life purpose as if knowing would make every desire work perfectly). To create is for me an unquenchable desire that has nothing to do with the outcome. (That’s why I’m co-creating the Creative Joy Retreat with Marianne Elliott and Tracey Clark, to make space for that heart’s desire to be tended for anyone who wants to join us. No outcomes! Lots of play!) What is your heart’s desire no matter what the outcome?
- Of course, it’s lovely to want your projects to be effective, to reach lots of people, and that is a separate desire. Which means learning to discern desires and choose between them. Which ones are most likely to bear the fruit of making you a good living, relieving poverty in your city or inspiring children to love movement? This discernment takes time and requires hard choices. See grieving. Is it hard for you to choose? It is for me!
- Desire does not take kindly to being bullied or hurried. It goes into hiding. It is not your cheerful best friend (thanks Barb for being mine!) who puts up with you no matter what. When I run roughshod over desire because I am habituated to ticking things off the Mighty To-Do List, it goes silent and I suffer a huge loss of vitality. What happens to you?
- Desire is not mood. Mood is fleeting, ever changing, affected by what you ate yesterday and your last attack of thoughts. Desire lives underneath mood. It burns and burbles there, waiting to be tended, to be listened to, to be attuned to. To do so might require shifting your mood through noticing your thoughts without believing them, drinking a cool glass of water, getting up from the desk and feeling life all around you, dancing, calling a friend who can listen to you vent for 5 minutes – in other words choosing “What do I want?” vs. “What am I in the mood for?” (I learned this from my friend Michael Neill.)
- Desire springs from your Buddha nature, your Christ heart, your innate well-being, the unstainable goodness that is you at your core. It helps you remember and know that being alive is the prize. Choosing life in your unique way by listening to your desires means you win the lottery a thousand times a day. How delicious is that?!
P.S. I have lots more to say about desire and I will here & at the Creative Joy Retreat – we will listen to it closely and together create a safe, strong container to do so. I’ll also touch on this in my writing workshop with the truly desire-filled Laurie Wagner (plus craft and time to write!) AND everyone coming to Taos this year, expect much desire to fuel your writing.