August 24th, 2009 by Karen
It’s a seemingly innoccous word, want. So deceptively simple even in definition: to wish, need, crave, demand, or desire.
But the answer to the question “What do you want?” is so brutally complex that it’s nearly impossible to answer definitively.
It’s a word common enough around our household…”what do you want for dinner?”, “what I want you to do is pick up your toys.”, “do you want a coffee this morning?”, “All I want is 5 minutes alone!”…but rarely do I actually ponder what I want in the long run.
I could wish for a million dollars and it would never happen. As much as all those self help books say that visualization is the key to actualization, I say that you have to train the horse if you want to ride it, not hope and wish that it would become tame without intervention. We’ve been digging ourselves our of our American Dream pile of debt by hard work, blood, sweat and tears. Not wishes. I want to live debt-free. Wishing is daydreaming and while a nice pastime, not a way to get the things you truly want in life.
Needs are necessities like water, clothing, food, shelter. These are important and I guess in a way I want them, because to be without them could be fairly disasterous however so many people justify their purchases as falling within these categories. Paying for water bottles constantly rather than using the tap is crap. Buying a $300 designer ski jacket to stay warm when you live someplace that doesn’t fall below 30 F in the winter is crap. Purchasing expensively overpriced pre-made dinners from the grocery store is crap. Building a new house that is more focused on form than function is crap. I don’t need that. I need clean water, durable clothing, healthy affordable food, and a safe home for my children.
Cravings are difficult…we feel them deep in our bellies and they can be difficult to ignore or voice. I’ve found that most of my cravings though are actually masking what it is that I really want. I crave french fries, but not because I even love potatoes in the slightest. I want salt. I crave chocolate, but I want a glass of milk. I crave time alone, I want to listen to my own meandering thoughts.
I will admit to having demands. Everyone does. I demand that you speak to me, not my chest. I demand that you treat me as my own person, not my husband’s wife. (Especially if you are billing me and I’ve been your dental patient for 14 years and he’s been to see you 3 times. Grrr.) I demand that you speak to my children with the same respect you require in return. I demand decent customer service. Unmet demands will be dealt with in a positive manner unless public humiliation is the only recourse.
Desire is a tricky beast. It’s so often hidden behind layers of lust and sexual innuendo that it’s hard to see it as a valid want. We speak of desire in a coveting manner…desiring cars, and jewlery, and the latest hottie to grace a magazine cover or movie. Desire is not these materialistic things that make us happy in the short term. It’s not a ring from Tiffany or a shiny new car or even a satisfying roll in the hay. These only offer fleeting fulfillment and leave us feeling even more empty than before.
So what do I want? My innermost wish? Deepest need? My craving? Insistent demand? Heartfelt desire?
I want to be loved. For who I am. For who I was. For who I am striving to be.
Simple. And yet, so complex.