‘Wanting’ as a Sign of Being Alive

Typically, when I want something, I want it with a fiery passion. I want it intensely, as if my insides are burning and the only way to cool the flames is to get what I want. However, I don’t have a magic wand so it’s very rare that I get what I want when I want it. That means I spend much of my time feeling frustrated and disgruntled. A friend asked me, “How can you make peace with wanting but not having?”

It’s a good question because the reality is I’ll always want something. There will never be a time in my life that I’m perfectly content with every single thing and waiting for that day to arrive before I feel peaceful sounds like a terrible idea.

What comes to mind is a concept in my spiritual tradition that states attraction underpins the universe. Not sexual attraction, just attraction, or a “force acting mutually between particles of matter, tending to draw them together, and resisting their separation,” to quote the dictionary.

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This little cutie wants something. I can tell. Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

My spiritual teacher says, “To maintain harmony and balance within the universe, there is a mutual attraction among all objects: each microcosm is attracting the other microcosms. All finite microcosms … are entitled to [God’s] deep universal love with which He has bound each microcosm to Himself and in which His divine ocean of bliss is perennially flowing. Attraction is the innate characteristic of microcosms.”

Attraction is the innate characteristic of all living beings. That means we’re all attracted to something and that “something” is divinity. Knowingly or unknowingly, all living beings are in the process of moving from crudeness to subtlety. They are attracted to a divine center and thus heading closer and closer to pure, divine love, my philosophy states. What that means for me is instead of spinning out because I don’t have a bigger house or a book deal, I can pause, relax, and feel the sweetness of what it means to want something.

To want something, to be attracted to something, is an inherent characteristic of living beings and is a signal that I’m alive, that I’m moving, that I’m being pulled toward a deep, cosmic love. Ultimately what I want is infinite happiness, unlimited happiness, perennial happiness and that sort of happiness never comes from material objects. I’m not advocating for a life of abnegation because I don’t think that’s possible for most human beings, but a little awareness goes a long way.

Having an awareness that the object or experience I’m seeking will buoy my happiness for a little while before I go on to wanting the next thing, means I can acknowledge wanting itself as a sign that I’m alive. “Wanting” transforms into something I can accept, that I can have patience around, instead of a thirst that must be quenched immediately. If I recognize that wanting is a signal I’m moving ahead in life, that I’m on a path from crudeness to subtlety, then suddenly wanting a big house and a book deal but not having them yet doesn’t feel so excruciating.

I dream of a world where we recognize wanting something is a sign that we’re alive. A world where we’re able to make peace with wanting something without having it yet because we recognize ultimately what we’re desiring is perennial happiness, and that doesn’t come from material objects. A world where we understand we’ll always want something and that’s a good thing.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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