Do you want money? Good food? Sex? Ideas? Fun? Love? To
serve humanity? To become enlightened? To serve God? Candy?
Addressing what we want seems to be a sizable issue for many of us. Just take a look at high school and college students who fret about how they have no idea of what to do with their lives. They just don’t know what they want, man! How can you expect them to know at 16-20 years old?
Perhaps part of the reason they don’t know is the perceived pressure. It seems that knowing the answer to “What do you want?” will open the golden gates to a clear life path for yourself. By the traditional American lifestyle, once you can answer that question you can choose a college major, then land a job at some organization you want to work at, and spend your free time doing things you want (which may include watching TV… or topless dancers).
Knowing what you want is useful on any level, from life purpose down to minor immediate decisions (e.g. what color toothbrush should I buy?). If you know what you want, you can be the king of life. Time that other people spend trapped in indecision will be yours to take action creating the life of your dreams.
When you are firm about what you want, little can stand in your way. You are bound to get it in some form and by some means eventually.
But so few people seem to be in touch with their desires. When you ask someone what they’d like to do today, you’re likely to be met with, “Oh, I don’t know…” Unless you want to feel pity, there’s no use in asking a classroom of teenagers what sort of work they want to take up or how they’d like to live. If you ask the typical person what he’d like to dedicate his life to, you’re likely to be met with a blank stare.
Why is it this way? Are our desires buried deep down, trapped beneath a ton of garbage that we’ve accumulated throughout our lives? Certainly that is one factor which contributes to this. Depending on how you look at it, it’s the only one.
If you ask a five year old what he wants to be when he grows up, he’ll give you an answer. Police man, firefighter, baseball player, and princess are fairly stereotypical. Some of those occupations may seem silly, but hey, they’ve got more going for them than the majority of teenagers!
It’s not typical for people over the age of roughly 10 to whine about how bored they are, perhaps even all the time. But how about 3-5 year olds? Have you ever heard a small child complain that she’s bored? I don’t spend all my hours among that age group, but I haven’t heard that. I have a nephew who’s 3 and a cousin who’s 4, and I don’t think they know what “bored” means. They never trap themselves in the space of not knowing what to do. From what I can tell, they have yet to run short on ideas of what to do with themselves. When one activity ends, there is always another game to make up or thing to be curious about.
A lot of parents would probably agree that toddlers have the opposite problem of us grown-ups: they want everything! People who babysit little kids get “tired out” by them because those little rascals just keep going and going. They want to run around and play as long as they are able to. They want to stay awake until it’s just too much of a struggle to.
Where does this attitude go as we age? The “mine, mine, mine!” mentality of little kids may come in part from conditioning, or picking up on the idea that having more stuff is a good thing. But kids don’t just want material objects: they want to do things too, such as play.
Adults want shiny objects like big houses and fancy exotic vacations, but they don’t always seem to want to do much. They’re relieved when the end of the day arrives and they don’t have to come up with things to do anymore—well, or cater to an endless list of stupid things to do. General excitement and curiosity fade. Playdates become more of a liability than a treat, as not having ready a list of fun-enough things to do would mean to be caught with your pants down (and that’s a big no-no in the adult world).
For me, the lines between work and play tend to fade. Some days I have no idea what running would be considered more of. Even when I was in junior high I made video games into a work-task of trying to complete the game as thoroughly as possible, collecting every object and accolade there was to find.
In short, it appears that as we (in modern America) get older we lose touch with desire, curiosity, excitement, and the ability to play. Perhaps the loss of each of these is tied together somehow. Maybe we disconnect with each of these parts of ourselves as the idea gets drilled into our heads that life is and must be hard, there are only a few acceptable ways to contribute to this society, and you must always keep bread on the table. What you want had better be to make it in this world somehow, kiddo- and playing on the swings just ain’t gonna get you there.
As we begin adolescence, we seem to better “understand” what it is society supposedly expects us to want. So we start trying to squeeze our desires into this mold: those that don’t fit are the ones that get buried.
It would seem, then, that we lose touch with desire because we try to fit into the society “out there” beyond ourselves. However, this is not all: while we look for approval “out there” for what we want, we are fairly blind to the fact that we do this. Instead, we perceive that we first seek approval “in here” within ourselves, perhaps even in our hearts.
Here’s the lowdown: most of us have selfish desires. People try to base their career choices on what they want to do. They don’t realize, however, that they have allowed social forces to screw with (narrow) their thinking, and thus “help” them to make this choice. In other words, the choice is made unconsciously- based on the meaning the person has made of his outer world- and the desire, imagined. Where there is conditioning, there is no clarity.
Now, I realize that what you do has to roll with society to some extent. My decision to write isn’t made from bare Earth: someone else planted the writing-seeds long ago. I didn’t invent writing: I basically just harvested the crop. You could probably say the same of much of what I write about. In this way, someone outside myself has certainly influenced my decision of what to do.
However, when people trapped in a context of social conditioning try to view themselves as individuals, things degenerate. They’re so certain that they consciously and independently think and make decisions that they believe they just don’t know what they want. They can’t see that their connection with desire has, in actuality, been twisted up to high heaven.
Again, where there is conditioning, there is no clarity. When you try to be independent but are unable to be (due to learned, unconscious beliefs) you are on the path to hitting a thick, painful wall. For some people this does not show up until the very end of life, but boy does it make a presence.
Until you open your eyes and see that your thoughts and desires do not really belong to you, you will not understand how you have been misled and why you have failed. If you think you’re an independent thinker, you may very well be deluded.
An alternative to independence-striving is choosing to see that you and the society “out there” are not actually separate. From the surface this may seem even more disempowering than being conditioned yet trying to see yourself as an individual. Surely in the second case all your independence-focus will eventually tear you out of the beliefs that have been handed to you, right? In the first one you’re just giving right into them!
In actuality, this need not be the case. For one thing, oneness and subjective reality (the perception that everything is an extension of yourself- specifically, your consciousness) are, even in my experience, not the topics of typical conversation. Words like “togetherness” and “unity” get thrown around, but schoolteachers are unlikely to help you grasp the depth of their meaning. So it’s probably not common to be trained into heeding oneness or even to live by consciously-chosen values (at least, not in America).
On top of that, the whole independence-paradigm may be conditioned. What makes you think you want what you think you want? How can you be certain? Where the heck do your desires come from anyway?
To be honest, I don’t know the answer to that one. But I can tell you something else.
What’s interesting about subjective reality is that when you understand that everything is a reflection of yourself, and you (that is, your ego identity—the name given to your body) are a reflection of a collective consciousness, it’s actually easier to think independently. By accepting that you are not at all separate or independent from the things that happen around you, your power as an individual increases. Perhaps you pick up the power you already have, from the “you” that is everywhere.
When you look from the paradigm of oneness, the question of “What do I want?” takes on a whole new, expanded meaning. “I” isn’t just I anymore. Yet we is not some deluded, confused mass of people, either. It’s like when logic and emotion agree with one another, they both become totally new, more powerful entities that we may not understand at an average level. When you can see that “out there” and “in here” are really the same, both places become much easier to understand. The chaos of collision somehow reduces chaos.
The question of “What do I want?” in which I is some individual body floating around the space of Earth, then, becomes insufficient. You won’t get a good answer to this question because you are failing to see the truth of oneness and unity.
If you want to see yourself as an object, go right ahead. As long as you understand that what you want and what that object wants are probably not the same, that is a-okay.
The object asks, “What do I want from life?” It hopes feverishly for some form of fleeting enjoyment that will fill its bottomless pit of cravings. Food, money, and sex may do, but they likely will not suffice for long. The objective human will likely beat this question into the ground, wondering what it is he has been missing for all these years.
On the other hand, the being who understands oneness asks, “What does life want from me?” He knows that because everything is him, his ego-identity is not what matters most. Yes, it is important that this ego is powerful so that it can carry out life’s demands, but it is powerful only if it understands that it is an illusion. It is just as much a part of reality and a reflection of consciousness as everything else in sight.
When you ask what life wants from you, you have to be ready for some answers that may not be quite socially acceptable. When you understand that everything is connected and that your only relationship is with life, however, what is “socially acceptable” is merely an idea. Conditioning is not the fault of some teacher or parent “out there”. You are the one who bought into the meaning you gave their teachings.
If something doesn’t seem “socially acceptable” to you that just means that you haven’t totally accepted it. The resistance of others merely reflects your own resistance. To “win over” this resistance, you must win over yourself.
The language of subjectivese isn’t always easy to understand, especially if it is new to you. You might try really hard at it but still feel like you don’t get it or it’s not working. So allow me to explain this to you in another way- the best way I know how-, which will hopefully shock you into altering your beliefs a tad.
Get F*%ed by Life
Somewhere in the last section I threw in the statement that “your only relationship is with life.” This may sound cutesy and abstract. It’s just another one of those weird things Kim says. Well, I want you to know that it’s not that. Not at all (at least, not the first one).
You see, whether you like it or not, life is your lover. Right off the bat of hearing that you might think, “Well, if life is my lover she’s terrible in bed!” Perhaps you are not irate to say so. Maybe you experience very little pleasure. Maybe you feel like you’re never heard, and you just plain never get what you want. Life stinks at this.
Oneness and subjective reality, however, tell us that it is wrong to blame what happens to us on things “out there.” Maybe we don’t have control over them, but we still are 100% responsible for the decisions we make, which includes the quality of our lives (choice matters here).
So if you end up in bed with a bad stinkin’ lover, you have to ask yourself: is it really all her fault? Or is there something I’m doing that’s contributing to this stanky-ness? Is there some way which I could make it better? What can I, a responsible and powerful being, do to remedy this situation?
I will say again that you don’t have control over everything that happens to you, and if you’re with someone who just isn’t compatible with you there is little chance that you’ll be able to make the experience enjoyable. Remember that one of the options of “What can I do?” is to end the situation, if that is what seems best.
What seems to be the case with life (or the universe, if you prefer), however, is that it is the best lover that you could ever imagine. Life is very well-experienced, and it knows exactly what it is doing. When you look at single, momentary events from your relationship with Life, you might think that Life is totally sadistic and downright heartless. Why would Life ever do that to me? you wonder. I thought Life loved me… I had trust in the universe!
However, when you take a step back from the timeline of your affair and start to look at different events in relation to one another- particularly at the past in how it relates to the present- a strange feeling starts to develop in you. You realize, “Whoa… How did Life know I wanted that? I didn’t even know I wanted that.” You say that in response to even the worst of the trials you have undergone.
You start to see that your desires may not be so “logical” and “acceptable” after all. You understand that your lover knows you better than you know yourself.
Neil Strauss, author of The Game, said that when you write a book, you have to understand that it is smarter than you. The book knows more about what it will look like upon completion than you do. When you are deep in the process of writing you may be unable to foresee how this thing could possibly turn out well at all. If you stay with it, however, when it comes time to publish you will see that the process played out perfectly.
Life- which writing a book is a part of- operates the same way. We squishy, irrational humans would likely be doomed if we were mere unconscious objects. It seems unlikely that the modern world would have turned out as it has. If we were purely separate beings we would crash into walls left and right, still thinking we are smart yet unable to understand how that wall “got there” (or rather, how we walked into it).
Thankfully, as conscious beings we have a relationship with Life as a whole, who holds us through dark nights and nudges us to become the best we can be, by taking us to places we never would have gone to ourselves. Through these adventures Life shows us that This is what you want, and thus teaches us something about ourselves we never would have known otherwise.
Life knows exactly where all of your buttons are, even if you don’t. Life will see to it that each one of those buttons is pushed until it becomes integrated into your being, and thus can be pushed no more. Life will do this even if you don’t ask it to.
Remember: Life is smarter than you; thus, what it wants from you takes precedence over what you want from it. In the end, once you understand this, these two usually end up being one and the same.
Your relationship with Life lasts for the whole of your existence and ends when you die. Even if it looks like you end the relationship, it is always Life who does so. It can never be anyone else.
Don’t F*%k Life
If you have read Stepped On, Misused, and Thrown to the Curb: When You Can’t Win with Women, it may sound like you, the human, play the submissive role in your relationship with Life, who dominates. You would be right to think so. When someone says that they got “screwed over,” do they sound like the dominate figure in their relationship with life? Not at all: it is only Life who does the screwing.
When you try to get on top and dominate Life, imposing on to it what you want, there is not much fun for either of you. You get little to no pleasure, and Life’s teachings are delayed. Your vision becomes foggy because Life is no longer leading you, and you start to lead yourself astray with your objective, individualized desires. Sorry, ladies, but it just does not work this way (unless you’re a cowgirl). There is only one force which is meant to dominate, and that is Life.
The more you try to dominate Life, the more monotonous Life may seem. When you try to control Life it holds back all the fun and adventure it normally has in store.
When you allow Life to get back on top, the activity of your affair varies more. You aren’t always doing the same thing. Sometimes it’s calm, and the two of you just lay there, holding hands. Other times you talk, telling each other your stories and your deepest secrets. Then, of course, there are the times when Life just plain fucks you over, likely in ways you never imagined it would. The next time you find yourself saying that you’re getting “screwed over” or “fucked by life,” understand that all of this is part of the deepest ecstasy created by yours truly, Life.
When you live from a paradigm of trying to control life, you are, by definition, on the defense. For every activity and social interaction that you must carry out, you are prepared for battle. Life feels like a prison when it is not being fought as a war. You are distrusting of others’ motives; as a result, you are unable to get “too close” to other people. You foresee few good outcomes, always expecting the worst.
Your physiology may even take on the defensive position, making athletic improvement and achievement far more difficult. Getting “in the zone” is nearly impossible because you are too lacking in the trust needed for Life to take you over, which is what happens in that moment.
When you instead choose the submissive-but-not-passive role in your relationship with Life, you actually can become more powerful than if you tried to dominate. When you try to control what happens to you, struggle awaits. With enough of this struggle you are indeed bound to become passive, trapped in a state known as “learned helplessness.” In this state you don’t try to improve things even if a solution appears to you as a golden gateway. The man who has held a corporate job he hates for 30 years but has “just 10 years until retirement” and thinks it would be stupid to quit now may be a prime example of someone who has learned to be helpless.
Even in your futile passivity and helplessness, Life will still nudge you toward what it wants from you, at least occasionally. Perhaps it does this almost all the time, but you are in too much of a haze to notice.
Life is the only lover you will ever have who loves you unconditionally, and it will continue loving you even when you stop listening to it and giving it what it wants. It just wants the best for you; again, that is even if you can’t see what is best for you.
If you finally decide to submit and just “let life happen to you” in one of those moments when it nudges you, your life may transform- particularly if you have never allowed this before. I know these moments can be difficult to distinguish from the silly demands other people may place on you. I’d like to think we have an intuitive ability to tell the difference, which gets stronger the more we place trust in Life.
When your perceptual abilities are weak, however, how do you tell the difference between a meaningful signal and a bunch of noise? Well, you might just have to take a crude approach and wade through the noise. Play with the noise. Interact with a piece of information and see what happens. It’s a rough answer, but as long as you combine it with a sense of Openness it may be the best you can do when your relationship with Life is weak.
I almost finished the last sentence with, “When you’re in the infant stage.” Babies enter the world able to receive sensory information regarding sight and sound (and others), but their perceptual abilities are weak. They don’t fully understand everything they see and hear. Visual and auditory information might even mush together sometimes. The world is there, but it doesn’t make sense.
This is likely hard for you to grasp, since you probably take your visual and hearing abilities for granted (no worries- I do too most of the time). You can tell the difference between your computer screen and the words you’re reading on that screen. You know they came from different places, and these two pieces of information have different meanings for you.
Of course, it wasn’t always that way. The very first time you saw a computer, you might not have understood that the images on the screen are not the same as, or part of, the screen. It was only by interacting with the computer and playing with the visual information that you learned that the two are not in fact the same thing.
To bring some Realness to this show, in that example you opened yourself to the experience of using the computer- a brand new Adventure- and you connected with the computer by doing so. You could also say that you connected with, or loved, Life in a certain way by doing so. You were Honest with yourself about your desire to forge this connection. From your reasoning abilities and the total of your experiences- which may have included words people said to you- you were able to see, or perhaps “foresee,” that the images are separate from the screen.
Taking the right hints from Life is essentially the same process: it is simple trial and error. It may be that that’s how you learn anything: there are just fewer and higher-quality trials sometimes than others.
I do have a caveat to add: since I am not a man, I’m uncertain whether men ought to get fucked by life or fuck life. You know- fuck the world, and get a child out’ her. Throw your dick in the dirt. Get married to the game, and hope she doesn’t break her vows.
Surely Life is smarter than any one of us, and general defensiveness is typically not needed (at least, not in this modern world), but maybe dudes should get on top of Life. I don’t know. Why not go see for yourselves, oh sword-wielders? Do share your findings with me. I’d love to know.
The Love of Life
When you allow Life to lead you, and you answer its desires rather than making it answer to you, both of you end up much happier and more fulfilled.
Perhaps we do create meaning within this life. According to Victor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning, it is more important, though, that we detect meaning. When you seek only your own human, objective desires, your pursuit of desire is bound to crumble. When you try to please society, you please no one. But when you answer to Life, you do the best for all.
There is no need to be intimidated by Life: it is not some man-object in the sky, looking to reign Hell on you from above, nor is it a ranting, raving mass of humans who will never “get it” (“the bungled and the botched,” as Nietzsche so lovingly called the masses). Life may be these things, but it is also much more. It is everything, and it is you. Life is consciousness. You are consciousness.
When you can see that your life amounts to more than doing either what you think is expected of you or precisely the opposite, you become capable of more. If I were meant to die in a moment from now, and there was only one message I could leave the world, it would be that Life loves you, and it only wants you to see that.
When you allow Life to love you in whatever crazy way it decides to do so, to live becomes amazing. “Easy” is questionable; “exciting” is just about certain.
Possibly even better: when you go to bed at night and stare into darkness for a moment, instead of preparing to dream ravenously about all the things you wish you had, you will get the sense from this darkness that what you want is exactly this. You don’t need anything outside of this moment. It is complete as is. Once you can do this, your goals are apt to be more consciously-chosen.
Even if you decide not to love Life it will always love you, and will always be knocking on the door.
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(Written on 16 January, 2015)