Crappy New Year! A Resolution To Pursue The Absence Of Desire…

Crappy New Year! A Resolution To Pursue The Absence Of Desire

There is a tenant in Buddhism, Taṇhā, that explains desire as being at the root of human suffering. On the spiritual path to nirvana one learns the deep sorrow of desire and the uselessness of holding such things so close, attachments to the things we desire must be released.

In our westernized world think- the newest iphone, a bigger tv with 4HD, the rose gold colored series 5 apple watch that you won’t even know how to begin to use but desire tells you you cannot live without. The perfect party or birthday.

This was my first new years without my children under my roof. A messy divorce in the spring has given way to many important days without their cherubic faces waking me up in the wee hours. The searing pain of desiring them and not having them near had to be quelled. Some drinks and fireworks with a friend might have swerved as distraction from my desire, but this was simply not the case. Afterall how does one numb the desire for the things they feel they cannot live without?

To recapitulate the metaphor of this dynamic in all humanity these things may indeed be the gadgets listed above or ones precious children, desire and the feeling of an inability to live without what is the object of one’s desire appears to be equivalent.

Perhaps watching the ball drop because that makes people happy, that could have erased my gaping hole of need for my children.

Well Sh*t!

I exclaimed when I realized that I live in Texas and it wasn’t even midnight here yet. I felt cheated again. Basically I just wanted things that would bring me closer to what I desire and those things are not within my contact, they are dictated by time and space and the divorce decree I signed unaware of all that it would bring. Desire makes me want to fast forward time.

I tried to order a club quesadilla from a local restaurant because food seems to at times be an analgesic to painful emotions that I cannot will away… but they were closed. I sat in the presence of desire, the out of control feeling I couldn’t stand, until finally sweet unconsciousness came to relieve the pain.

I woke up to that same burning, the fire of “I don’t have what I want.” My new years eve was what it was, I didn’t feel better, time having elapsed. Food again comes into the picture as the great panacea for my pain. I wanted a specific breakfast burrito from a specific restaurant that would not let me place my Waitr order until 10:30. I dug in my heels, despite a friend offering to go get me a breakfast burrito I was stubborn and didn’t want to leave my house and I wanted the specific burrito. The breakfast food I both desired and that I had so much sexy control in ordering on my little app: what ingredients I want to add, what to subtract, the heat level of the salsa. In the meantime I desired iced coffee and ask my friend to put on the kettle as I had finished my cold brew the day before.

In a rare turn of fortune I realized that despite running out of premade cold brew I actually had what I needed to make some. I had been gifted coffee beans for christmas, remembered that I had a french press I rarely use and all that was needed was boiling water to brew it. I smell disgusting burning plastic, and I turned around to see the bottom of my electric kettle melting off in dribs and black oily drabs onto my kitchen floor. My friend had put the electric kettle on the stovetop!

What the ever loving Frick!!!

This was the end of it. The end of me. Clearly the end of our friendship. I couldn’t have my girls, I couldn’t district myself, I couldn’t make the iced coffee I wanted, and then the doorbell rang. Breakfast burritos!!! My one and only hope for this existential ache.

No breakfast burrito. Holy hell, was this a joke? It was, in fact, the club quesadilla that I had attempted to order on New Years Eve, 16 hours earlier!. My perfectly designed breakfast burrito, made to my exact specifications that I had ever so patiently waited until 10:30am to order had been canceled, the restaurant closed on New Year’s day, even though Waitr gave me false hope in allowing the order to go through.


This was not want I wanted. I wanted my damn breakfast burrito but I had to laugh.

Is this part of the road to enlightenment? When I desire it only leads to pain and disappointment. The desires can be big or small, some objectively seen as more legitimate than others, however the truth of attachment to things outside myself is the same. As I become aware of this step in my spiritual development I realize I will always have everything I need, maybe just not exactly what I want.

I was still able to make cold brew with my french press using the working kettle in my guest room. Check. I apologized to my friend for being mad at him for doing something he didn’t know would cause a catasrophic distruction of my personal electic kettle. After all we can’t know what we don’t know. Check. I still ate approximately the same food for my breakfast meal. The main difference being no eggs (the most breakfasty ingr4ediant), however there was still a tortilla, with bacon and cheese, a couple extra things I didn’t intend on breakfasting with like avocado and chicken but I was fed. My needs were met. I had desired this food 16 hours early why choose for it to not be good enough for me now? When I began to think about all my waisted distress it began to feel silly.

I realized that the power within me is flamed and stoked as I give up desire outside myself. I can manage, I can approximate. I desire my children and they will come back to me tonight. I will be ok.

To die to desire is to find a more peaceful way of living. To realize the iphone you have right now is good enough to do the job. That the series 5 apple watch will be replaced by a 6, 7, 8, 9 in adfinitum propelled into some infinite future in which you will never have the best and newest for long.

As humans on this earth we have survived. We have found that we have had all we needed. Perhaps death and taxes are inevitabilities perhaps not. Perhaps you move overseas and live as a nomad, there go taxes… death on the other hand, I’m not sure we can outrun.

I had to write this for you all now, regardless of whether any readers see the lessons of living a spiritual practice in the banal and petty moments or not. This is where the rubber meets the road for me. Letting the mundane of life teach you about eternal things. I do not think I am “fixed” by my New Years epiphany, and have been made into a spiritual master without desire. I do feel however that I’m learning and growing in the way of spiritual maturity and maybe you see a little of yourself in this boring yet potentially illistratiuve New Years story and what it has shown me.


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Emma Wood

Dr. Emma Wood is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in trauma syndromes, existential and spiritual issues and long term psychotherapy…

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