A Satisfied Mind is Not the Same as a Satisfied Desire
When I was 22, someone very dear to me said, “You’ll never be satisfied.” He didn’t mean it as a compliment. It confused me like when I was 15 and my mother said, “All you want to do is have fun.”
Again, not a compliment.
The one who told me I would never be satisfied, his word meant much to me and this claim against me hung in the background of my mind for a decade and more, emerging periodically, quietly haunting me. Over the years, I internally defended myself against his words: I’m satisfied often, by cups of coffee, writing a good paragraph, a dog walk, or looking at Keith Richards.
It was true, though, that I had, and have, looming desires that bubble behind such satisfactions and I’ve sometimes been a grumbling malcontent and turned the boil and caprice of life into evidence of my comprehensive unworthiness. I suspect it was this, not the coffee, to which he was referring.
But when he said, you’ll never be satisfied, it wasn’t the grumbling that was targeted for judgment. It was desire, itself, or too much of it. That’s how it sounded to me.
As with my mother’s statement, I didn’t understand the wrongness of it. I wanted fun. I had desires. I could do nothing about the reality of either. I was embarrassed, too, at my lack of recognition at how un-endearing these components of my personality came off to others. I believed the one dear to me simply didn’t understand that my expressions of desires were not expressions of dissatisfication in need of resolution, that until resolved, colored all of life bad. Not at all.
Still, I tried to tame the beast.
But taming desire is like trying to tame honest hunger. It cannot be done.
Distraction may work temporarily. You can stuff yourself with substitutes and let the mind work to fool itself into thinking desire is under its control. But desire is not a product of the mind. It is not the mind’s to deem real or no, and a satisfied mind is not the same as a satisfied desire.
The proper relationship between desire and the mind is service, the mind carrying out desire’s agenda. The mind can be wrong in its interpretation of a desire, or fail to serve it effectively due to screwed up concepts of cause and effect, or it can talk itself into believing what exists (desire) does not. But desire does not get tamed.
With desire, you have three options: 1) Repress it. 2) Experience it and do nothing about it and go mad. 3) Acknowledge it and serve it and go for it with no guarantees.
In none of the cases is it tamed. In each, however, it can be managed. The key to managing the beast, desire, in each case is as follows:
1) Repress it.
If you’re going to repress it, do it well, do it thoroughly. Avoid consciousness and tipping into #2.
2) Experience it and do nothing about it and go mad.
If your choice is to experience it, do nothing about it, and go mad, change your choice. Get out of this limbo. Tip into thorough repression, drink, take drugs, or tip into #3, or kill yourself now.
3) Acknowledge it and serve it and go for it with no guarantees.
If you’re going to acknowledge it and serve it and go for it with no guarantees, don’t bitch about your choice. Enjoy your coffee. Watch a Keith Richards interview. Shut up. Shut up, and feed the beast.
K.M. Cholewa is the author of Shaking Out the Dead. This is her debut novel. You can learn more about K.M. Cholewa and her book at our website.