“She was inexperienced enough to assume what they had was love because she wanted him, and want can be a hundred times stronger than need, and a thousand times stronger than common sense…
Desire, if handled incorrectly, could become a curse”Magic Lessons – Alice Hoffman
Who among us hasn’t felt that sort of desire?
The sort that twists and turns and pretzels us back in on ourselves. Where the want itself is a hungry, knawing thing.
Desperate and draining, total and all-encompassing. That kind of want, it happens at the edges of things, moth to a flame —drawn to the source of my own destruction—please god burn me up inside the fire of you just to keep me feeling alive.
When I speak of want and desire, I don’t simply refer to what we get to see and know and taste in this life. I rarely concern myself with the easily understandable surface of things.
No, when I speak to you of desire, I am asking you to unearth the root, to excavate the soil, to drill down to the groundwater beneath that sustains it all.
The real answers only ever lie in the depths.
I have said before that my life has been built on a foundation of want. I have wanted people and experiences and interactions and knowledge and I have wanted the kind of pleasure that can rip an entire life apart and name it holy. I have felt the cravings in my bones and become lost in the depths of my own longing. I have been made and I have been dismantled in the center of my wanting.
Some of those wants I have received and had and held and tasted and known. Some I never will. Some have been held out before me, tantalizingly close, and yet I have failed to open my palms to receive, frozen in my own complex haze of trauma and hesitation and convoluted reluctance to change.
Each of these wants has changed me, for good and for bad, whether I made it all the way to the having or not.
And yes, in some cases the wanting and the having has proven to be my downfall. Many times I have become the instigator of my own undoing. This is just the way it is in life, where only the living of it and through it can teach us a damn thing about how to survive – or perhaps only that we were never meant to survive at all.
Right now I want so many things.
I want a giant velvet turquoise sectional sofa that those beloved to me can pile onto in a puddle of arms and legs and bodies and a sleek new mid-century modern bookshelf and to know that in one month I will have a beautiful and safe home secured for my little family.
I want invitations to black-tie affairs where I wear fancy clothing bought at thrift stores with just enough edge to keep me feeling like me, and to become a rock star serenading an arena filled with thousands of screaming fans, and to magically pay off my tax debt by next year.
I want a million people to know my name and my words and my work. Sometimes I want a partner. and sometimes I love my solitude too much to imagine it, and I want to live in Scotland where light and mist make magic on the regular. I definitely want to give myself wholly and completely over to love as many times as I can in this one wild ride of a life.
I want to know the sort of hedonistic pleasure that can bring entire civilizations to their knees and I want to rise from the orgy even more resolved to be all of myself. I want to summon you and then I want you to come to me as if compelled. I want you to cross oceans in the name of your longing. I want you to want me in a way that makes you taste your own desperation, and I want you to see me wholly, illuminated, and utterly undone.
I want to be laid bare by your insistence to know the core of me. I want to trail my hands across my own bare skin and witness the naked face of your own want. I want to lay on my bed and let my eyes follow you as you move around the room doing the most ordinary of things, knowing only that a want like this is never ordinary.
These wants are real and clear. But it has not always been so. So many times in this life I wanted things with almost blind desperation, only to learn that the object of my longing was simply a replacement for what lingered and pulsed just below the surface. A pale substitution. An unsatisfying make do. A space filler. A way to take the edge off but never quite scratch the itch.
An unstable stepping stone on the wild and roundabout path meant to lead me to the real thing.
These are the wants that have become a curse. Where everything got convoluted and crazed, and I lost the path of my own integrity in the name of owning or possessing or having something never meant to be mine. That have left me grasping and pleading with an unforgiving universe that has always had bigger plans for me. These are the wants that have left me naked and exposed, raw and ragged on the edge of the abyss.
But even here I claim the wisdom of my wanting and name it fiercely my own.
It’s the edge of that abyss that always leads me home.
For you see, it is only through all of this that I came to understand one pivotal truth.
In the end, my wants are rooted in a sort of freedom. Freedom from constraints, from shame, from the limitations of a culture invested in keeping me from the source of my power. Freedom is the air and the soil and the groundwater. Autonomy sends the roots of me deep. Sovereignty is the rich damp earth, fertile with possibility.
I am a desert witch who casts spells out of the words that swim in the depth of me. I am a wolf who knows the sound of her own howl. I am the spider who spins a web of longing but who only ever wants to set us all free.
We all want.
Our wants may curse and unravel and bring it all down.
But maybe that is only because it needed to come down so that we could see what else might want to rise.
Maybe, just maybe, our wants are seeds in the new garden of Eden where everything can grow without sin.