Friday, 10 September 2010

The Panic of Desire

Are you familiar with the panic of desire?

With the way that, another day having past - its minutes spent, its hours emptied - your stomach clenches at the thought that you did not get what you wanted? Whatever it was, whatever was given, whatever was done, it was not enough. The day was not sufficient.

Are you familiar with how this panic gives your throat a squeeze as you cast around for some small way to make good on the satisfaction you had imagined the day would promise, for some way to wring a bit of saving pleasure from the day before it is entirely past - or, at least, for some way to dull the ache of craving?

The panic of desire makes it hard to breathe. Your chest constricts. You're not going to get what you want.

Nothing is ever enough.

The whole world is passing away and you are not going to get it. Your own life is passing away and - even here, even with your own life - you will not have managed to claim it.

Desire desires everything. It wants everything. Desire grieves for all the things it will never have, all the places it will never go, all the people it will never know, all the recognition it will never receive, all the work it will never do. Desire is never done mourning.

Everything is passing away and the agitation of this grief colors everything you do and every thought that you have. All of your planning, all of your hoping, all of your scheming is animated by this grief.

This panic, the panic of desire, is the panic of grief.

The panic of this grief is what squats, like a rock, in the pit of your stomach.

Are you familiar with this stone of grief, this rock of panic? When you walk, can you feel its heft sway?

Have you seen, though, that this rock is, itself, enough?

Quick, better see it again.


  1. Sure, I think everyone feels this panic of impermanence. Especially our own! In two thousand years do we think we will have made any difference in this world, made it a better place, and be remembered for our precious deeds? No , I do not think so. So for the antidote there are some mantras i use. "Everything changes like a feather wearing down a diamond mountain." That takes the pressure off of me making a difference. "The now is all that really matters". This keeps me from thinking into the future or past and feeling guilty about how useless I am. :) "we are all just a blade of grass" this puts me on equal ground with all the rich and famous people that have really contributed to our world.
    So yes, i understand this panic of "DESIRE". It visits occasionally and sometimes it is best just to hang with the dreadful feelings and know that this meaningless life is most often suffering.


  2. Good analysis of desires. But how can we get rid of desires?