Emmy - Grammy - Oscar - Tony A ridiculous target? Maybe. Most of us aren’t aiming for that kind of thing. We watch the stars from afar and we snicker at their narcissism.
College - Job - Marriage - Children
What about that one?
What’s your version?
It’s easy to critique the human tendency towards dissatisfaction.
What we have is never enough. We always want more.
I had the powerful experience last week of actually watching my desires change. It wasn’t a conscious thing - I didn’t sit down, plan, and make new goals. But as external circumstances changed and former satisfactions were met I could feel myself finding new avenues for desire.
At first I judged this pretty harshly. I thought about the hole inside me that is not OK just as I am. I focused on my difficulty in just being. And outside of the harshness I think this is fair enough. We are hardwired (it seems) to hurtle forward in time and achieve, achieve, achieve. And most of us could stand to cherish ourselves and receive the cherishment of others right now. Just as we are.
And as I sat with this I also saw this. I saw the similarity between our endless striving and the more daily arc of hunger which goes something like this: Little by little our hunger increases. And then we eat. There is a satisfaction in the eating - it feels good, mostly. And if we stay with our experience very closely there can be a twinge of something like regret at some point - a twinge of - "very soon I won’t be hungry any more and this eating won’t feel as good." And then, as we eat some more, we are finished. Sated. Which, depending on how much we eat and what we eat may feel good. Or a bit uncomfortable. And then more time passes and we are not hungry but not full either. And then more time and the thought comes into our mind - what’s for dinner? We are a bit hungry again. This is a generalization of course - everyone has their own way with food.
What I am trying to illustrate is that there is a natural drive towards satisfaction, a desire for food, that is sated and then reemerges. This is true with other drives, too. Sex. Career and scholastic achievements. The company of others. Hobbies. We lean into them, desire things and experiences, get what we want, enjoy it and then it is enough. Until we want more.
There is a natural rhythm to our lives. To our bodies. And all of these rhythms intersect with each other - the word ecosystem comes to mind.
It strikes me that this is what is worth being with. Rather than criticizing ourselves for our endless striving, perhaps being with the striving (which one might call living) is the ticket.
It’s hard to do. It’s hard to take a step outside of oneself and see oneself as this set of processes or rhythms.
The whole world is really a rhythm. A set of rhythms.
We’re all part of it. In our striving and wanting; in our suffering and in our pleasure. I’m putting us in the context of the world and saying - you belong. I belong. We’re here.
That’s what we’re doing when we read articles like this, too. And when we go to therapy, coaching, massage, even the dentist. We’re acknowledging our “part of it-ness."
Huge change happens if we can get a handle on our belonging or our “part-of-it-ness”. Huge changes in our lives. And huge changes in our world. Think about what troubles you about our world and think about how it would be different if everyone involved knew they were part of it in the vulnerable pulsing way that they are.
Instead, when we want the EGOT - it’s all we can think about. It’s life or death, me or them, success or failure. But when we can see our ever-changing striving as part of a continuum that extends to the way a plant moves its leaves to more directly face the sun - well - then we can understand ourselves better. And then the real big and exciting and very possible changes happen.
I need to emphasize that this change, this understanding is not a cognitive process. It’s a process of bringing each of our cells back to us. Back to a conscious experience of being here in the world. It’s a process. Just like everything. And it’s a healing, a restoring. And it is perhaps the most important work we can do.