I want a puppy. I saw a puppy on the web site of an animal shelter. Her eyes were black, her nose looked like a stuffed bear’s. Her body was tiny and black and white and vulnerable. I ached for her. My husband said no. After a bitter fight, unresolved, I called the shelter. She was gone.
I want a really expensive pair of jeans. Ridiculously expensive, pointlessly expensive. I want the jeans because I feel old, and undesirable, and unnoticed, and because I’m thin, and I cling to my thinness the way the last drying leaves of autumn cling to their trees.
I want to competently execute the advanced series of Ashtanga yoga. I want to do arm balances like a man with the grace of Svetlana Zhakarova.
I want a perfectly clean house, with my children’s toys always put away, as if on display for an invisible audience.
I want to be enlightened, I want to be kind, I want to let go, I want to be wanted, I want to be beautiful. I want my youth back. The body shakes, from so much wanting.
Grasping, grasping, grasping. This is the inherent nature of mind.
Finally, this evening, I sat in meditation. The baby was asleep. My husband and older children gone to the mountains. The windows were open to the settling darkness. The vibration of desire pulsed through my very cells.
And then, the wind. Sounds all around, enveloped by the quiet that comes only to ears that have stilled. The questions came:
“Who is wanting?”
“I am wanting.”
“What is the nature of this want?”
“It is sadness. It is loss.”
“Can you not weep instead? Weep and let go? Weep and let go?”
“No. It’s too much. The weeping will never end. The suffering, my suffering and the suffering of others – it is limitless. And I am powerless. Wanting is better. It distracts me, and let’s me feel like I can control something.”
“What are you controlling?”
To this internal question I had a thousand answers and no answer. A sense of emptiness came over me, but not a nihilistic emptiness. An emptiness that was full.
It was an emptiness that contained no want.