Self-Portrait as Modest Desires

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When I was finishing up my first master's degree, I saw a career counselor who told me I should figure out what I would want if I could have any kind of life at all. My desires were modest: I wanted to live alone in a pleasant house with lots of windows. I wanted to spend most of my day writing, alone. In the evening I wanted to get together with friends and eat pasta out of big pretty bowls, and then I wanted to go home alone. I didn't care whether or not I was rich or famous; I just wanted to be comfortable. I also wanted all of this to take place in Italy. And wouldn't you know I got it all, six years later, except that as far as the place goes, all the universe got right was the first letter: it happened in Iowa, not Italy.

What if I had wanted something grander, more elaborate? Why didn't I want something grander, more elaborate? One reason is, I think, that I was tired. Life had been pretty stressful up to that point and I wanted some peace. I wanted less to be expected of me.

At this point I'd like to want more. I want more to be expected of me and I expect more of me and I expect more of the universe. What, after all, am I allowed to want? That has been part of my thinking all along: If you have this, you can't want that. If you are a Mormon you can't want a life full of drugs and orgies. If you have even a certain level of enlightenment you can't want the ease of living a stupid, unenlightened life. Furthermore, if you want certain things, then you can't really want other things. If you want to eat whatever you want whenever you want no matter how many calories it has or what it does to your liver or your pancreas or whatever, then you can't really want to be thin and healthy. If you want to smoke then you can't really want to breathe well. If you want to be nasty to your neighbors then you can't really want to be enlightened. If you want to be a writer then you can't really want to be not a writer. If you don't really feel like writing then you must not really want to be a writer.

Some of those probably hold true and some probably don't. I want to want everything I can possibly want. I want to want so many things that I get at least some of them, even if they are contradictory.

1 Comment

I think the human condition is about having incompatible desires. I want inner peace, but I also want the disatisfaction that drives me to pursue things like inner peace.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on October 24, 2005 8:45 AM.

Outsmarting the Gremlins Part II was the previous entry in this blog.

Self-Portrait as Cultural Creative, Whatever the Hell That Means is the next entry in this blog.

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