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February 18th, 2020
Desire is a pesky thing to deal with. It’s so insidious, and so deeply baked into how we operate that we can be completely oblivious to it’s hold over our behavior.
Why did I eat that entire tub of ice cream?
Much of the world’s religious systems were and are devoted to this issue of desire. What to do with it. How to control it. How to tame it.
Desire certainly serves as an extremely apt and worthy opponent upon which a person can build their own internal strength. Being able to regulate the swirl of emotion that circles the low pressure of desire can be akin to a god controlling the actual weather. And imagine that – if you could control the weather. What would you do with it? Certainly you’d make it rain in the places that need it, and make it shine when you take a day hike up to a particularly beautiful lookout spot.
Something similar can be said about the effect of regulating one’s emotions to great effect. If left unregulated, emotions make a mess, creating flash floods when and where we don’t need them, and leaving us high and dry just when we need a drink. These images might stand as symbols for bouts of depression or times when we can’t find an ounce of motivation.
This larger subject of emotional regulation aside, desire carries with it a basic rule of thumb to use it more productively.
It’s repeated ad nauseum that we seek novelty, but is this really true? Do we really seek something truly new? Or do we seek the same old thing in a different costume?
A new donut place opens up. You hear rave reviews. You just have to try this new variety of donut.
But do you? Is it really going to be all that spectacular? Or is it just going to be that same old impulse given into once again with the illusion that this time it will really be something.
What about something truly new.
What if we take this broken record of a program and direct that desire towards the truly novel, like:
What would it feel like to get this project done, to bring this unique idea to full fruition?
Directing desire in this way doesn’t simply help us orient ourselves in more productive ways, it leads us to truly novel perspectives. It pings reality for ways that we can actually have an effect, it reveals knowledge that allows us to improve our own life and potentially the lives of others.
And it’s far more interesting than some sticky ring of undercooked dough.
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