Mom, seemingly irritated and physically pulling back from the young boy, replied with a raised, shrill voice: "You DON'T want that!" The boy shrank in response, lowered his head, pushed out his lips, and whispered under his breath, "But I do."
As I walked away, I couldn't help but wonder what the boy learned from this interaction and how it might affect him in the future. What happens to us when we are told, or taught, that we do not actually want what we want? What happens to us when our wants are not heard or when they're denied?
What happens, if you will, to a want deferred?
Does it become more difficult, as we grow older, to know what we truly want? Do we start to feel confused every time we want something? Do we begin to doubt our own instincts of desire? Do we become guided by what is "good" and what we should want, rather than our own internal--be it inexplicable--gut feelings?
Just think, for a moment, how many times have you wanted something and then tried to convince yourself that you do not actually want it? Perhaps it's a chocolate chip cookie, a second cup of coffee, a new pair of shoes, a different career path, or something else, something that you felt you wanted and immediately told yourself: "You don't want that!"
But maybe, just maybe, you actually did want it (or still do).
This meditation on want is timely because it relates to the element of autumn in Chinese Medicine. As Lorie Eve Dechar explains in Five Spirits, autumn has to do with "the aspect of our unconscious that speaks to us through our desires, obsessions, psychosomatic symptoms and the wordless stories of our bodies" (p. 239).
What I understand Dechar is referring to are the sensations, feelings, and emotions that arise in us as an organic response to life. It is these very feelings that can act as guides to a deeper and more fulfilling friendship with ourselves, to psychological development, and self-realization.
But we have to hear our very own feelings first. (click "Read More" to continue reading)