February 25, 2009

I got nothin’

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:52 am by Dagny Taggart

I really, really wish I could go back in time and inhabit the body of my 5-year-old self so that when my mother told me that I might not always want what I thought I wanted then, I wouldn’t be quite so infuriated at the condescension and presumption that emanated from her words. 

Because she was right!  I hate it when that happens.

A fairly presumptuous ex-boyfriend once said that he knew two things about me that would always be true – I’d always drink whiskey sours, and I’d always smoke Marlboro Lights.

I haven’t had either in … eight years?

But I guess what I don’t understand, and might envy a little, is the absolute certainty with which some people state their life goals.  How can you possibly know that you will always want something?  I think it’s possible to make that a goal (I see marriage as an agreement to do everything you can to make sure you want each other for the rest of your lives), but I don’t know that there’s anything I could guarantee I’d want forever. 

Which has led to two problems – one, a lack of ambition.  If you’re not sure that you’ll still want something in the long run, is it really worth putting that much effort into it now? 

And two, a serious case of indecision. 

So how do I get past this, and figure out maybe one or two things that I’m allowed to want forever?



  1. Lisa said,

    As you know, I have no idea. I feel very strongly what I think I want in the moment…but it’s so hard to feel a certainty that this will be a want forever. For me, fear holds me back from wanting strongly. It tamps down thoughts and urges.

    It’s hard to imagine you as a person lacking ambition. I find it easy to think of you as a multifaceted person pulled by many interests. Which easily leads to indecision.

    It’s also hard for me to imagine you drinking whisky sours and smoking Marlboro lights. But I only actually know one slice – a recent you.

  2. Lisa: I think fear has a lot to do with it – I was cautioned so much against getting my hopes up, even as a little kid, that I’m more afraid of that than anything.

    And as much as I truly enjoyed smoking while I did it, I didn’t so much enjoy the whiskey sours. It was just something easy to order wherever I went, that was different from what other people drank.

  3. There is danger in want but is it any more perilous than the absence of desire?

  4. vvk said,

    They key (for me) is broad/vague/philosophical desires… wants…

    I want to be happy. I want to love and be loved. I want to be true to myself and my beliefs and morals.

    Those are the sort of desires that will and should last a lifetime. More concrete the desire, the more ephemeral I think.

  5. AliasFaux said,

    To know what you will want even one second from now is to know the future, and one can, of course, never know the future. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s 40 years from now, or 10, or 1, or 5 minutes, or in the very next instant, the concept holds. You can never know what your heart will hold in the future.

    That said, if one can never know the future, why should one EVER take action? That is, I may not want this job tomorrow, so why should I do any work? I may not want to be alive tomorrow, so why should I hit the brakes at this red light?

    These are, of course, extremes used to illustrate a point, but it’s a valid point.

    As your choices are A) Complete and utter inaction to avoid any potential future conflicts due to changing desires (and even then this doesn’t hold, as what if something you want in the future requires you to act now), and B)Taking your best guess and moving accordingly, I choose B.

    Besides, as you know, there are some things that you can be pretty damn sure that you’re going to want, and even if you one day find you don’t, they’re still worth having/doing.

  6. restaurant refugee: I’m not trying to advocate not wanting. Far from it – I’m trying to figure out how to let myself want. It’s a bit scary either way, that’s all.

    vvk: I’m definitely on board with that sort of thing – but I think, at least for me, that keeping things that vague and broad keeps me from taking concrete steps in any one particular direction, from making actual choices.

    Alias Faux: Well, that was the point I was making – that I don’t act on some things because I’m not sure I’ll want the anticipated result, later. And I understand choosing B. I WANT to choose B, but seem paralyzed, sometimes.

  7. LiLu said,

    Saying you want something forever is too scary. I say it’s more like the first time you jump into the deep end of a pool… you don’t really know what’s going to happen, but you think it’s going to be pretty neat, so you hold your nose and jump.

    Hopefully, you also know that if it isn’t all it was cracked up to be… someone will pull you out and towel you off.

    Just jump.

  8. Jaylin4dc said,

    Choose B!

    By doing nothing you are GUARANTEEING that your “present self” AND “future self” will be disappointed by your inaction (ie: guilt, regret). And by doing nothing now you are handicapping your “future self” from life experiences, self-discovery, and lessons learned from mistakes.

    Above was the fear based reason why you should take action now. But, there’s a more sustainable reason to make decisions and put effort into goals: Life is impermanent.

    (I don’t mean life is short, so you -have- to act now. no, no, no – that’s another fear based reasoning.)

    Life is impermanent. People aren’t stagnant, the world we live in isn’t stagnant. Why would I want to want something forever? Why do I prefer certainty when it is limiting? Is setting up a life-long want or goal really a crutch to frequently being brutally honest to oneself, going out on a limb, and making decisions every day?

    Maybe I don’t want to -want- something forever. Maybe “present me” would be pissed with “future me” if I still liked or wanted the same career, had the same tastes, knew the same people, had the same insecurities or aspirations. I want life to be better than I can imagine now.

    Maybe you can’t figure out 1 or 2 things you will want forever, because you’re -human- and it can’t be done!

  9. Peg said,

    Popped over from DCBlogs. Could procrastination be playing a role in your decision-making? I’d like to suggest an activity that might help you sort-out what you want and why.

    Draw a big circle on a big piece of paper. You are at the center. Now write in what you most value closest to you. These can be anything — people, things,feelings, etc. All the other stuff gets added at appropriate distances as importance dictates. If you do this a few times a year, you’ll notice trends in how your thoughts are evolving and affecting your values. The things that remain closest to you month after month may help you figure out what you really want and need.

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