Jan 18 (3 days ago)
The problem that I have with non-attachment and holding-no-expectations is that these frameworks – as I understand them – seem to discourage a person from savoring the sweetness of wanting.
Some people say that human suffering comes from wanting, from desire, from expecting things to be a certain way or believing that certain things ought to be happening or not happening. It is said that if we cease in wanting, we will be free to engage in the gratitude and wonder of that which already exists, all that already is, in the small present moment.
The issue I have with this framework is that – as I said – it doesn’t allow for the sweetness of wanting, the pull of desire. Nonattachment asks that a person set feelings of longing aside, that they not stoke fires or make plans or hold designs in mind, that they settle into a blithe acceptance, that they deprive themselves of desiring anything other than what may come to them, that they bite back any sadness over what they may not have within their lives, that they not want for anything?
Nonattachment denies the relevance of desire and anticipation in the architecture of our hearts and minds, and asks that we curtain the secret hopes that we may hold for ourselves and for others, for the world? When we hold no expectations of particular outcomes, we are participating passively, not generating or creating realities that we may want for ourselves, that we may need for ourselves.
Oh, yeah, we need nothing, beyond the minimal sustenance for our animal bodies?
I know that’s not true, but I struggle to welcome and embrace paucities and deprivations, and to not allow my heart to clamor for or ask for anything other than what is, to be happy with what I have, to let that be enough, and to let go of whatever I may find myself wanting before I can even feel the sweetness of that desire, and – worse – that I not share with the world my wanting, my desire, that I not give voice to what it is that I feel I may need, that I may long for. In that way, nonattachment feels problematic to me, because we all have wants and desires…for love, for success, for respect, for changes within the world…and to be asked to sit quietly and erode those wants, to shroud desire in fear and shame, is a hurtful and silencing thing to ask of oneself in the name of seeking some sort of ease and joy within one’s life.
The glib 1/2 assed practitioner of nonattachment in my head says, “Ah, but you already joy and ease within your life. If you step back from wanting things other than what already is, you will know that.”
Oh, okay…I can want things, I can desire certain outcomes, I can need things…but, if those things do not come to pass, it is pointless to fall into distress…and insulting to what is…I can want for certain things to happen, I can have desires…I just can’t care if things don’t go the way I want them to or allow attachments to define or distort my realities.
Isn’t the pang of disappointment, the frustration of unmet needs, the soreness of a bruised heart…aren’t these things part of being human?
Are those feelings not vital, in art and motivation and processes of clarity in knowing who we are and what we want and need in our lives?
I guess it’s true that we cannot put our wanting onto other people. That we cannot expect or demand other people to know or meet our needs or to even care that we have them. If what other people are doing or not doing happens to correlate with what we might want, then we ought to consider ourselves lucky, because we cannot ask other people to satisfy our longings, and doing so establishes a dynamic of vulnerable dependency, making one prone to powerlessness in meeting one’s own needs.
Our wanting is our own business, our own burden, our own sweetness.
…but, what if something really beautiful and vital in the world may come about in our wanting, what if – in some situations – it is crucial that we name our desires – not for material acquisitions, but for love, respect, sweetness, friendship, time, beauty, justice?