Buddhists believe that the key to ending suffering is letting go of all desire or craving. That’s a sizable leap on my part from the 1st to the 3rd of the Four Nobel Truths, but an interesting idea to explore nonetheless.
In my lifetime I have experienced considerable fluctuation in my ability and willingness to want. I used to be terrified to want. I remember doing everything in my power to quench desire at every turn. I’d deny it. I’d distract myself. I’d accept pitiful substitutions for the true object of my passion. Either way, I avoided desire like the plague. Acknowledging my desires was tantamount to numerating my miseries. I was so unhappy in so many areas of my life that the exercise of thinking about what I wanted out of life produced more despair, as reality only made those desires seem less and less attainable. During this point in my life I would have agreed that desire was the source of my suffering.
Right now I am about to start a new job. I am about to be divorced. I about to be in a much better financial situation than I’ve been in my entire adult life. I am on the brink of realizing what I fantasized about during my despair, starting over. It’s a very exciting place to be. I expect to meet new people, travel to new places, experience the things I ached to experience when I thought I never would. I am equipped with a much better understanding of who I am, what I like, what I despise, what I stand for and what I won’t. I am happy. I am unmistakably, palpably happy. And yet, I’m still haunted by longing.
I feel like there’s a difference between expectation and longing. The latter requires more vulnerability. Does that seem strange? Are those two words synonymous to anyone else? They aren’t to me. I expect things to change for the better in my world. But I feel like naming my longings (or identifying them) reminds me of emptiness, reminds me of the voids. I guess the bitter reality is that the objects of all desire are transient or impermanent, no matter how we cut it. I can’t hold on to pleasure. It will slip through my fingers eventually. I can’t hold on to people or relationships. They change and die. I can’t hold on to things or money. Stock markets crash. But there are things in this life that I want and I feel like sometimes my “enjoy it while it lasts” attitude is the same as trying to deny longing. It seems rooted somehow in despair. I’m trying to figure out how to turn that around. I’m trying to figure out how to want what I want, expect to have it at some point and acknowledge and accept that I may not always have it–all at the same time.
One of the things I’ve longed for most is the freedom to be my own person. I feel like I am living that freedom more and more everyday. I’ve found community among those who aren’t threatened by or judgmental of my exercise of that freedom. Those probably seem like “givens” to most people, but remember I was a pastor’s wife. I lived under palpable scrutiny. I was constantly reminded that every inhalation and fart of mine had life changing implications in the lives of others in my community. It’s frightening to think about having had that much perceived power over other individuals. It’s frightening to consider the ill effects it has had. It’s amazing to be free of that kind of community. This kind of freedom is something I’ve longed for years. Is it too transient? Temporal? Impermanent? I sure hope not.
Anyway, this has been a long, convoluted way of saying that I am very, very happy with my life right now and I hope it just gets better from here. I want love, happiness, fulfillment, security, companionship and peace. And mind-blowing sex. Can’t a girl have it all?