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Getting What I Need

A little over a month ago I was sitting in my friend Tyler’s living room complaining about some problems that were playing out between me and my partner, Miguel. “But Tyler,” I pouted, after he gave me some solid advice, “I don’t want to do that!” He looked at me with compassion, shrugged his shoulders and said, “sometimes what you need and what you want,” he brought his thumb and pointer fingers together to form two o’s, connected them and pulled them apart, “don’t connect.”

I looked at him, slumped down and said, “yeah, you’re right,” and started singing, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” by The Rolling Stones and a new lesson began to brew in my bones.

When I got home that night I took Tyler’s advice; it was 100% a step in the right direction to healing the rift between Miguel and me. A couple of days later, I changed the background on my phone to this:

Whenever I look at it, I sing to myself “you can try sometimes, and you just might find, you get what you need.” It shocks me that I have known that song for at LEAST 20 years, and not noticed its meaning.

The voice in my head keeps asking me, “Do you get what you need, April?” and I keep answering, “I don’t think so.”

Meet my new friend, Desire, my deceptive conversationalist. I only recently noticed how often Desire shows up in my life, and getting to know it has been incredibly annoying. You see, Desire can talk me into doing pretty much anything. It also dictates when, where, and how. If I don’t want to go to work and get extra hours, Desire snuggles up on the couch with a cup of coffee, the tv, and the sun. If I don’t want to pay my bills, Desire shows up to tell me how to be more frivolous with my money.  

When Desire makes its impact, it doesn’t take long to for Shame and Guilt to enter the building, and when they show up, the party is o-v-e-r.

Desire, Shame, and Guilt are three best friends who work in a cycle and help me make choices that don’t benefit me in the long run. They’re like teenagers who drive me to be destructively impulsive.  

An essential lesson I have learned (thus far, this process is far from over) is how when Desire rules me, I become a selfish asshole, afloat in a paddle-less raft at sea. It often leaves me stranded without options for survival, and it never leads me to what I need. Desire also creates expectations and attachments to outcomes within me and leads me to believe in qualifiers such as being worthy or deserving.

Observing desire for the last month has taught me how when I am humble and have gratitude, I am more grounded in doing what I need. As I begin to focus on what is necessary for me, I can see and ask others what they need without expectations. It is the strangest feeling revelation to be unattached to outcomes.

In Buddhism, some say the “self” is an illusion of the mind. If desire leads me to only to the intention of getting what I want, it has to be one of the many puzzle pieces of identity. In the vein of this understanding, I have started to practice being nobody, and am discovering a sense of joy and freedom I’ve never known to exist.

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