I just finished my last weekend of Mama Genaís School of Womanly Arts, where we spend a lot of time talking about desire — not just sexual desire (though we do that a-plenty), but also the big picture desires of how we wish to live and who we want to be. What Iíve discovered is that, when given permission to fully own my desires, a certain fear arises. What if my desires are too BIG? What if I want more than I can have? What if Iím disappointed not to have my desires met? What if what I want requires uncomfortable change? How do we make peace with our desires?
Knowing What We Want
I know that getting in touch with our desires is critical to making good things happen in our lives. How can we create what we want unless we know what we want? A few months ago, one Sister Goddess asked me to list 5 things that I desire — and I found myself mute. Facing my own desires erased my brain and I couldnít think of one single thing to put on that list. Then, after she left, I thought of a thousand things but my brain was really good at shutting them out. ďOh no — you canít have that. That would be selfish/ greedy/ immoral/ wrong.Ē
Itís easy to neglect our desires. As long as we desire nothing, we wonít be disappointed. But we also wonít get clear on how to conjure what we wish to create. Itís a fine line.
During Mama Genaís weekend, I found myself teetering on the edge of desire, standing on the brink and fearing falling into it. What if my desire overtakes me? What if I canít contain it? What if my desire leads me to do reckless, crazy things in the name of feeding the longing within me? Could I risk that?
Killing desires before theyíre born
We judge the very things we desire. Letís say you long for a palatial marble mansion in Beverly Hills, complete with servants and a Rolls Royce. Then you hear the little voice in your head saying, ďOh, thatís so superficial. People would think you were so uppity. And after all, there are starving children in the world. And I barely make enough money to pay the rent on my one-bedroom apartment.Ē Bam. Desire decapitated.
Or maybe you long to shake things up in the bedroom with your husband. Youíve never told anybody but you secretly fantasize about having a threesome while tied up in black leather, watching porn. But your husband married a nice, Midwestern girl who goes to church on Sundays and is raising three children to be upstanding citizens of the world. The voice in your head says, ďI canít do that. God would send a lightning bolt at me, my husband would be mortified, and the church elders would roll over in their wheelchairs.Ē So you bury the desire under the flowers you just mowed down. Thwack. Another desire stabbed to death.
Perhaps you dream of quitting your job, moving to Paris, and writing a novel. But the voice says, ďYou canít afford it. And you might never find another job. Everyone would think you were crazy. You don’t know how to write. And responsible people donít do such reckless things.Ē Yup. Desire roadkill.
I know Iím not alone in feeling more than a wee bit frightened by the passion of my own desires. I suspect many of you are nodding your heads, clasping your desires close to your heart, and listening to the quiet voice of judgment, which is trying hard to undermine what you truly feel. I get it. I really do.
But Iíd like to offer an invitation to you. I am going to do something radically brave. I am going to clarify my desires — and stare them down. Instead of running from them, I am going to stand still, feel them, acknowledge them, let them know Iím aware of the inner rumblings they stir up. Iím not necessarily going to implement action to pursue them, but I will own them. They are me — and me is perfectly enough, completely lovable, and worthy of admiration.
I will allow my desires to become my teachers. We will have sleep-overs together. We will hold hands, snuggle up with sleeping bags, talk into the wee hours of the morning and get to know each other. What will come of it, I donít know — and I donít need to know.
Do you feel like joining me? Can you invite your desires in, curl up with them, investigate them, research what theyíre all about, and own them? Or would that be crazy? Might that tempt you to leap off some dangerous cliff into sharp edges below? Might you cuddle so closely with your desire that you feel compelled to surrender to it? Would this liberate you or tempt you to do something irresponsible or naughty?