“How can you know what you want ’til you get what you want and you see if you like it?” Cinderella, Into the Woods
“Human beings are not naturally wired to handle celebrity well – why would we evolve to deal with a million people caring about every detail of our lives when only so few of us have that problem?” – me, random musings
“For the first time in my life, I can pay unexpected bills when they come in and not have to sacrifice paying something else. It’s as if Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs were magic: now I have the creative energy to write the stories that have been banging around in my head for a decade” -my ex-roommate, who recently finished the first draft of a novel
“You can get to pretty good at anything with enough time and practice, but you can’t get to be good at everything. There isn’t enough time.” -an Olympic athlete whose name I don’t remember, in an interview probably 10 years ago
These four ideas have been rattling around in my consciousness for the past few weeks, and I have a couple of hours to myself, so I thought I’d see if they would play nice and mull themselves into a pithy, well-summarized conclusion sentence if I tried to force them into blog form. (Good luck, me. We’re all rootin’ for ya)
I’m not dealing with the pressures of being famous, but I am dealing with a phenomenon that is similar because of its relative rarity in the scope of human history: I have basically everything I need and want.
And I find this level of security … vaguely unsettling.
I understand that a sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo has served humanity extraordinarily well as a race. The nagging thought of, “something could be better” has driven inventors, tweakers, makers, artists, philanthropists, and explorers.
But on a personal level, it’s been annoying and unhelpful for the past few weeks. It’s weird. It’s irrational. I mean, honestly, here’s my amazing life in summary:
I want to live a life where I can afford to pay all my bills, and also travel to see my family regularly – I can. I want to have dogs, because I think they keep me more physically active and more emotionally balanced than life without them – I do. I want to have the security of a primary life partner relationship with someone based on mutual respect and trust, where I am confident we usually make good decisions together – I’ve got that. I want to have the freedom within my primary relationship to branch out to other lovers for physical variety, emotional stimulation, affirmation, and a sense of adventure – I have that freedom guilt-free more than ever since my husband got a new girlfriend and a new appreciation of the benefits of non-monogamy. And I want to be able to provide for myself financially in case of emergencies – I am able indeed.
Oh, sure, if I won the lottery, I would change a few things. I’d get a big fat recliner downstairs for writing and waiting between calls more comfortably. I would love to have laser hair removal so I no longer need to shave. I would deeply appreciate having laser vision surgery and spending a decade or so with good eyesight uncorrected before I start needing reading glasses. It might remove a tiny bit of concern to replace our cars with two-year-old models with fantastic warranties.
But are any of these things going to exponentially improve the quality of my life, especially when you compare those minor wants with the amazing blessings directly above them? I would clearly be an idiot if I thought so.
How then, do I explain the lingering thought that keeps brushing through my mind like a breeze, “but I want … something“?
Maybe I’m ungrateful. Maybe I’m not yet fully acclimated to the air up here in “I have everything that I need, and everything major that I want” land, and maybe settling in takes time.
Or maybe humans, as an animal, have understandably bred for “but I want … something” as a desirable characteristic of the species, and now it’s so much a part of our nature that it cannot easily be dismissed by most of us, not even the self-proclaimed self-aware like me.
The emotional answer, I think, might lie in trying to accept the “but I want something” urge as part of my strength, to embrace it and listen to it and sometimes give it new things so it doesn’t feel neglected. I can probably do that.
The practical, behavioral solution seems more straightforward, as I’ve been musing lately: figure out my priorities for this current season, with my current blessings, then try to balance the activities of my life by those priorities over the course of each quarter. Sure, a day or a week may be grossly imbalanced, but over a three-month span, I can build new sexy memories, make money, enjoy non-sexy times with friends and loved ones, change locations enough to feel a sense of discovery, and make a simple change or two to protect or improve my health.
What more could I possibly want?
The real answer: nothing.
Inner Slut’s answer: Wellllllll, I’ve still never been with two men at the same time who were completely focused on my pleasure…