This is a question I ask myself…often. Growing up we’re asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I think I may have said a vet or something like that because I like animals. I never really knew. I followed my parents’ suggestions, at first. I started university, quit it, started at another university later on, quit it, went to another university, finished it, but didn’t get a job that matched my education, went to a trade school, finished it, didn’t get a job that matched that education either. Then I started a business, went into debt, consolidated, later started another business, got out of that business so I could start another business, more debt, more debt. Now I’m simply expanding my current business to include all things artistically expressive, working, and doing what I can to pay down the debt. But, what do I want?
Living in contemporary North America, we have so many choices. I’ve always felt that I could do anything I set my mind to, but I intuited that the typical desires for success were, for me, just traps. I tended to choose jobs that I could easily get and easily quit, skillfully avoiding any promotions or accepting suggestions to take on more responsibility. As an individual I feel strongly about not letting people down, so I didn’t want to get trapped into people relying on me or else it would compromise my freedom. This has been my thought process. Freedom is at the top of my list of values. Thankfully I come from a very accepting family otherwise I may have been tempted to do something to please them. But, they say my choices are fine with them as long I am happy, healthy and safe. Plus I have a couple of siblings who chose professional careers so at least they have that. I am happy to take the role as the gay starving artist.
So this is how I’ve spent the last 20 years of my adult life, but What Do I Want Now? I want freedom, comfort, health, happiness, love, growth, and adventure. Honestly, I have all of those things right now. So why do I keep asking this question over and over every day? I believe it’s our nature. We will always be asking for more, eternally. Wantingness is part of our evolutionary process as a species.
Okay, so I accept that the desire for more is natural and eternal. But, I have to admit that contentment is a big part of my desire for more. Geez, there’s a paradox. As Lao Tsu said, “Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you”. I believe this paradox is where a lot of questions come up about spirituality that prevents a lot of people from going down that road, especially queer activist type people. For the most part, our community believes that to be content with what is, is to be negligent to the suffering and oppression of so many. Many very nearly take the position that if you’re content, then you’re part of the problem. Seems reasonable right? If I’m perfectly content without a sailboat, how will I one day get a sailboat? And if I’m content with the present state of things in society, then how will anything change? Well, things are always changing and it’s an individual process. And we can talk about that another time. For now, I still ask, what do I want?
One of my favourite spiritual gurus mentioned in a seminar once that what we want is, “to focus in a way that evokes alignment with Source (ie.God, All That Is, Soul, what have you)”. Why? Because this “alignment with Source” thing creates all the feelings that any thing that’s wanted might produce: contentment, comfort, freedom, happiness, love, joy, eagerness, clarity, all sorts of good stuff. To test this theory I play the 3 year old infant why-game. I want a sailboat. Why? Because I love being on the water. Why? It’s nice to be outside, connected to nature, moving through space in this special way. Why? I feel free, I feel exhilarated, I feel content, I feel happy, it’s a joyous experience. Ah, there we are back to the feelings that “alignment with Source” evokes. So what if right here right now I felt free, exhilarated, content, happy and joyful? Does that mean I don’t get to go sailing? Of course not. It actually means that I’m much more likely to align with opportunities that match those emotions, possibly sailing. But, that leads me to another discussion, which I’m not going to pursue today.
Let’s try another one. I want peace among all humans. Why? Because I want there to be less pain and less obstacles to joyful fulfillment. Why? Because I want to witness happiness and contentment in others. Why? Because when others feel good, I feel good. And there we are again, back at the place where I want to feel good.
So, what do I want? Just to feel good? Pretty much.
I want to acknowledge that desire is the path of emotional expression. I want to know with certainty that when I feel joyful, then joyful experiences will present themselves to me, as opposed to the other way around: feeling a lack of joy, and hoping and seeking for joyful experience to take me out of where I am. I want to allow for desire’s eternal nature to flow through me, knowing that satisfaction of one desire will only lead to another desire, trusting the timing of this flow, and enjoying the journey along the way.
Like they say, Life is a journey, not a destination. When I really truly live it like that, then I really truly love it and experience it to its utmost fulfillment: with or without a sailboat, with or without a notable career, with or without a pile of debt, with or without peace on Earth, with or without anything and everything I think I want.