Fear…Desire…TomAEto…TomAHto…

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

– (Marianne Williamson) 

 

I have been thinking about the idea of wanting. About desire.

I’ve got some serious hangups about it.

On the one hand, I’m trying really hard to learn the art of self-advocacy (because currently, on a scale of 1 – 10…ten being the highest degree of mastery…I’m floundering somewhere around the area of a 1.5).

But it seems like a worthwhile skill. So I’m learning…Trying…

My first step was to learn how to advocate for the things I needed. After all…needs are linked with survival. It wasn’t hard to justify survival to even my most self deprecating of internal voices. Also…the list was relatively simple. I needed food. I needed water. I needed shelter. I needed love. Easy-peasy. I’ll deal with “wants” later.

At least…that’s how my list of needs started. 

Eventually, I discovered not just any food would do. I moved from needing food to only needing healthy food. Only the highest quality of proteins and carbohydrates and essential fatty acids would do. My passion for vibrant health wouldn’t let me be satisfied with junk food from fast food chains.

I was sure any old water would be fine until I traveled outside of the US and discovered I definitely need clean water. Otherwise…let’s just not go there. Let’s just say clean water became a vital necessity.

What about shelter? A small space to myself would be just fine. Just a little room. In fact, what’s this about tiny houses? Could that be a thing? But then I discovered what it was like to live with another human being in a 1-bedroom apartment in the Tenderloin of San Francisco. Suddenly my needs in that department expanded to include a space that I could call my own…a bedroom with a door that could close off other humans. And I needed it to be built in a space outside of the hustle and bustle of cable cars and seasonal parades on Market street. I needed trees, sunshine, dirt roads and greenery.

And love. Ohhhh love. So simple. I just needed the love of a few friends. Family. A partner who I could talk to, partner with, and learn from. But that, too, seemed to contort into complexity. I found myself spouting needs for a things like passion, growth, compassion, intimacy and commitment.

But that’s it. That should juuuust about cover it.

But wait. How did I think I was going to pay for food, water and shelter? I would have to get a job, right? So I guess that means I need a job. Anything would be fine, though. Well…anything in my field. Well…anything, in my field, that also includes flexibility. Oh…and benefits. I need benefits. Because I don’t want to get sick.

Also…did I mention that I identify as being a highly sensitive person? That means I am also going to need plenty of time to recharge and reflect. I need relationships with people who are as curious and blown away by the world around us as I am. I need books and music and art and….

And so it goes.

In a world where most of its occupants scarcely have enough food to eat (never mind enough of the supposed “right” foods in their “correct” portions) it’s hard not to feel gluttonous. Most people are happy to have a roof over their heads. But I have decided I should not only have a roof, but walls that have compartments built inside that include a room for washing, a room for sleeping, a room for work… So doesn’t this make me, on some macro level, greedy?

Giordana Bruno is credited with the line “Desire urges me on while fear bridles me.”

Marianne Williamson (above) says that our greatest fear is our greatness. Or, perhaps, the potential that lies within for greatness.

But I’m starting to wonder to what extent fear and desire are really different at all. Do I really desire love? Or do I simply fear loneliness? Do I desire space to myself? Or do I fear the experience of cold, heat, overstimulation and overwhelm?

I live in America…where needs and wants are encouraged, fanned and flamed. Fear is the kindling. You may not have known that you needed an iPhone. But if you don’t get one, you’ll be left out of the loop. Disconnected. You may think you don’t need more money, but you need to understand the way inflation works.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that more is not always better. Too little food and we may starve or die of malnutrition. But too much and our blood sugar spikes too high and we crumble under the weight of desire…desire for more flavor. More decadence. More booze.

I suppose at the end of the day, I am afraid of my greatness. Just like Marianne said. But not because I am afraid of admiration or of feeling powerful. Rather, I’m afraid of my potential for “greatness” because greatness doesn’t necessarily come packaged with discernment. The Romans were great. But in looking at the bones of what is left of their brutish culture…I wouldn’t necessarily say I would want to emulate them.

Brene Brown writes “The opposite of scarcity is not abundance. It is simply enough.” 

I agree.

But how will we ever be able to determine what “enough” is when we live in a world that is perpetually cheering us on toward more. More productivity. More creativity. More stuff. More sex. More house. Always more.

Even as I write this, I am preparing to move from a perfectly sizeable two-bedroom condominium (shared with a romantic partner) and into a house my Mom technically owns. Four bedrooms. Big enough for a family to live in. But I have no offspring.

I went from being content to share a bedroom in a small apartment in the city, to wanting more space. More quiet. More solitude.

I feel so certain that will satisfy me. I feel like it’s a kind of full circle to come back to the very house I lived some of my most impressionable years. I’ll be able to fix it up and call it my own. But is it? Or is it yet another example of my insatiable need for ever more of whatever more materializes into?

Fear, desire, tomAEto, tomAHto….should we just call the whole thing off?

What kinds of things do you desire? What do you think it would take for you to feel like you finally had enough?

Leave a Reply