I’ve been stricken with a disease. It is a disease of the mind that I’ve been carrying around for my entire existence. It is the disease of never-ending wants.
My mind and body constantly longs for possessions and achievements, of status and worldly pleasures. My fickle soul hungers for satisfaction, change, and certain state of being.
This mentality of non-stop chasing is a special kind of hell where your object of desire escapes your grasp again and again while being just within your reach. It is like trying to quench a thirst that never goes away no matter how much you drink. It is like drowning for eternity without actually dying.
My wants come in all sorts of manifestations: I’ll be happier once I move to a new country. I’ll relax and enjoy life when I finally publish my book. I really want to learn that new language. I’ll become a better writer once I buy that fountain pen and start writing long-hand. Once I have the perfect set of clothes I won’t want any more of them. I’ll be able to optimize my health once I get that supplement. I’ll have a peace of mind once everything is organized and taken care of. I should just buy a new phone/watch/shoes rather than resisting the temptation and letting it occupy my mind. I wonder why I can’t enjoy simple things in life like I used to. I would be a much better man if I could just conquer all my fears. If I make certain amount of money per month, I’ll be content with it. I need love and sex so that I can cure all my pain. I have to read all the books on my ‘to read’ list before I die. I just got to escape from all this madness and go live in a desert… They just don’t stop.
I know that all my wants are illusions, and that it’s as futile as chasing a mirage. Whatever desire I meet, the joy will dissipate in a brief and the dissatisfaction will return. There are always more things in the queue to strive for—they eagerly wait their turn. Whatever I obtain, it will become normalized and often fall short of my expectations; I will soon want something more or better. Every problem solved will only open doors to new problems, every good obtained is another burden to guard and care for, and every order created will stray to disorder with time. This endless chasing has made me realize the insanity of it all. I now question why I want the things I want and do the things I do. It has made me think what I should really be focusing on.
This madness will go on because I’m pursuing contentment from without when it must come from within. I’ve studied psychology and read books on Buddhist thoughts—I should know better by now, but I simply gave in. I’ve become more addicted to the desires themselves than the objects of my desires. Chasing gives you the illusion that you are living and progressing in life.
After some thinking, I believe my options are limited to the following:
- Accept that life is a cycle of suffering and let go of all desires and attachments. Peace must be found from within.
- Be more realistic and modest about my wants and ambitions. I must become fully aware of the brevity of life and focus on the few things that truly matter.
- Realize that my current life is a folly and make a radical change to escape from it. I am far too complacent with my current routine and lifestyle in the modern society that I supposedly hate. I can’t complain about my life when I continue to live in this prison of ours.
Whatever path I choose to take, the lesson here is to live simply. Simplicity is beauty and simplicity brings peace.
When you are young, you explore many things to determine what you like and what you don’t. You test your own abilities against the world to see how much you are capable of achieving. The young and energetic mind naturally wants all and everything. But as you age, you must learn to dig deeper. You must have something that you can dedicate to that will shape your identity. You must cut out everything that is nonessential so that you can concentrate on the essential. You must cultivate focus and contentment through reduction.
You can’t have it all. You can’t fix everything. You will never achieve enough and have enough to be content. You must be satisfied in your striving rather than striving to be satisfied. If you let the modern society dictate your desires and your dreams, you will always remain a slave. You must become free by removing the shackles of social conditioning the System has imposed upon you.
You are not your wants.
To learn more about the ways our modern world manipulates us, read Man’s Fight for Existence.