Hey. Your desires called.*
They wanted me to pass along a few messages, ’cause they’ve noticed you don’t give them the kind of attention they deserve. They’re guessing it’s because you don’t really know what they’re for or how they can help you, your relationship, and your magnificent work in the world. But they (with a little scribin’ help from moi) can set the record straight. Here goes.
Your desires want you to know:
1. Don’t confuse us with grasping.
First of all, we know you’re a consciousness-lovin’, mindfulness-seekin’ soulstar, and aren’t about to trip down some path that would take you TOWARD materialism, narcissism, other-kinds-a-ism, or deeper into the snares of illusion and ego. No way! You’re here for liberation, to slice through your conditioning, to become free, yeah? And you’ve been taught (bless your Buddha-lovin’ heart) that desire creates suffering. Ooops. Scratch that, they say. Clarification: ego-based desires create suffering. The blind pursuit of the latest desire creates suffering. Desire – consciousness = grasping. But the desires themselves? Rich, sweet companions on your path. The want to guide and accompany and nourish you.
2. We’re the marching orders written on your heart before you were sent here to make the difference only you can make.
You know how sometimes you meet someone and you feel like you’ve known them forever? Or you just feel pulled to visit somewhere or read something, and you experience it as a perfect fit… and doors open and serendipity spins and you feel so. right. on. ? Yeah. That’s desire. It’s often quieter and more subtle (cue the standing bass) than the clanging cymbals of your latest grasping urge. Desire is linked to intuition, more than to ego. The things you desire guide you toward your rightful path, not toward what makes you look good (and sometimes not even toward what feels good. Bummer, huh?) or what feels “successful.” Countless times, desire has stopped me in my tracks like a broken bicycle chain, when I thought I had A PLAN I was pursuing. Other times, I found myself pulled toward a person, a work opportunity, or a destination, without knowing why but with a quiet clarity. That’s how they roll, desires. They’re
nudging us to make the changes and the choices that move us in the direction of not just our wishes, but the highest good of all. ‘Course in the process, we stir in fears, grasping, and just junk we needed to learn… so they asked me to ask you not to blame them for all the twists n’ turns in your path.
3. Experiencing Desires is (almost) the entire point.
‘Member making out in high school (or before you’d ever had sex – whenever that was!)? Like, being so(!) turned on, but not even having any intention of consummating that with penetration? I daresay: nothing’s been hotter since! The TENSION, right? Hoy! Surely you’ve got countless other examples: the anticipation of a vacation, flipping through a favorite catalog “trying on” clothes or furnishings you’re not going to order. Desires are their own gratification. But somewhere along the way, we got taught that if you admit to desiring something, you have to promise to be disappointed if you don’t get it. What a lousy deal that is! It means desires carry this leaden shadow, right from the start. We’re not so much savoring the thought of the desire as we are bracing ourselves for the let-down. Yank! I’m not into that, and neither are your desires. “Just enjoy trying us on!” they say. You may notice that a desire rises and falls away if you kiss it lightly like that. Or that it grows stronger and you find yourself (easily, I might add) taking action to create it, or sharing it with others who can help it come to fruition. And, because you’re still holding it lightly and NOT promising to freak all the way out if you don’t get it, you’re
having fun. Mmm. How’s that grab ya?
4. Your body knows more about Desire than your head does. Ask it first.
Annual planning, goal-setting, visioning, and strategizing often start in the frontal lobe. I’m a big fan of our forebrain and like to use mine a lot (only sometimes banging it against things). But I’ve learned that better stuff happens when I start the process a little lower in my anatomy. Vedic sages refer to “wheels” or chakras (pronounced chock-ras) in our bodies that move energy, vitality, and consciousness. The second, down in your pelvic bowl, is a seat of desire-based wisdom (or wisdom-based desire, see?). You can tune into the sensations there, the images that arise from there, and the clarity you feel there (you feel the clarity whether you make the time or awareness for it. Your desires are always talking, feedin’ you the goods. Just like the Adele channel on your Pandora app, it’s up to you to tune in to them, or to something else). And that data will make you feel wise like Gandhi and certain like Joan of Arc. So whether you’re asking your partner for a different kind of touch or you’re deciding what goals to pursue next year, save that fine noggin’ for the detail work. Start down in your pelvic floor, take your time, and when you’re clear on the desires, THEN make the plan.
5. Desires are like Mercury; we carry messages for the gods.
Inspired ideas, changes in consumer preferences, new inventions and discoveries arrived at simultaneously on different continents… All these are examples of the ways that desires drive human thought and behavior for the common good. If you’re following these other notes from your desires, you’ll find that what comes up when you check in will be less personal and more broadly helpful. Even when it doesn’t necessarily look like it. Your true desires may be gratifying or nourishing to you, but they’re also beautifully orchestrated to serve the good of everyone, when exercised in the right way. My undergrad degree is in economics, and Adam Smith is a renowned scholar who talked about “the invisible hand of self-interest” that guides everyone to make choices that are for the highest good of all. How could that be? Selfish + Selfish + Selfish = Harmony? Whaaaa? Well, my personal exploration of conscious (I won’t be so grandiose as to say enlightened) self-interest tells me that when we’re really intending for desire to be a path of evolution and of service, we do tune into desires in a way that lets in the invisible hand, that lets us be guided to LOVE doing, having, saying, and receiving things in a way that is sustainable and salutatory for the whole. You will feel desires, as you become fluent in their language, that are supportive of your service in the world, and because they’re whispered to you as desires (rather than shoulds or demands) following their guidance will feel inspired and even playful. Ain’t that the way do-gooding oughta feel?
6. If wanting something different makes you dislike what you have, that’s not Desire.
A month ago, my three year old had a gotta-have-it meltdown over a tool set at the natural food co-op (seemingly not a likely place for a preschooler to go nuts over the toys, but go figger!). I said, “You’ve already got a wonderful tool set at home, remember?” He did what any of us does when we’re really hooked into grasping: reviled what he had in favor of the new thing. “I don’t like MY tools! I want THOSE ones!” Maybe you’ve done it with your car, having decided “I need a different one; I hate this one!” Or a partner? Did he or she “go bad” once you started to consider moving on? Your desires want to remind you that the richest place from which to create something new is a place of contentment and non-grasping. Celebrate where you are and (Coop, are you reading this? You’re three. Guess not.) the “tools” you have. AND enjoy desiring the next thing, too.
What have I missed? Have your desires taught you something I didn’t include here? How does this take on desires strike you? Talk to me in the comments below or on twitter – just include @lisenbury in your tweet.
* Name that allusion: Undying devotion if you name the reference: “___ called…” Mwah.