It occurred to me tonight that I (and I assume other people as well, lest I be a total anomaly) am often plagued with despair that centers on my not having something that I want or feel that I need very badly. That despair will be exacerbated in the event that I encounter someone who has that thing that I do not have. I say I despair over this, instead of saying I sorrow over this, because I think the difference between those two is that someone sorrows and can still hope for better or work toward alleviating the problem, but, when a person sees no hope of ever getting out of where they are, that is not merely sorrow, but despair.
Again, I imagine that I am not alone in ocassionally feeling this, so if you and I find common ground in this experience, you might well find this thought helpful. It occurred to me about four and a half minutes ago, and I’m almost ashamed to be proud of it because it’s one of those things that you think of and then go “how did I MISS that?!”, one of those things that isn’t really a revelation, because you’ve known it all along, but is an epiphany because you may have never made the connection between it and some other important thing. Here it is:
Not every desire you have is a good desire.
Most every self-conscious person would readily admit that. Actually this realization is absolutely essential for self-betterment. Our desires are the singluar causes for all of our choices, so apart from admitting that our desires aren’t always good, we have no reason to think our choices will ever be bad, or that we should be better people (or even can be better people).
But think about the fact that at least some of our desires are not legitimate, sensible, or morally good. Think about it in relation to jealousy or despair. Every negative emotion is rooted in a percieved sense of loss. Every negative emotion is a loss-emotion in some respect, either based on some actual loss (say of money or a loved one), or a loss of something that was anticipated with gladness (like when a child is told they are going to take a trip to a theme park, but their parents back out at the last minute), or some other (possibly illusory) loss.
Sorrow occurs in almost every case when there is loss. Sometimes the sorrow makes room for hope as we build toward healing, or some actual solution to the problem, and other times the sorrow turns into despair – when we fail to see a way out of the bad. Despair then either eats us alive and kills our souls, is repressed and covered over with smiles and turns us into mannequines, or is simply accepted and makes us apathetic since we feel like we can’t do anything.
What if, though, there is another solution hidden in the above realization? Our way of life is historically rooted in the satanic concept called the American Dream, which says we should be assertive, and self-made – taking life by the horns and making the world conform to our desires. This sort of mindset makes ample room for despair when we encounter a situation that we have little control over and is unpleasant to us.
But what if we foisted the idea that we should always get our way? We have a great reason to do that – if we believe that what we want isn’t always what is good, then we SHOULDN’T always get what we want. It would actually be best if we got what we hate, fear, or find unpleasant in those situations where what we want is evil, unwise, or illegitimate. In these situations it is useless, – or worse – evil for us to try to seek after what we want. In significant situations where we find ourselves displesed we should then ask what thwarted desire lies behind our displeasure, and whether that desire is legit, wise, and good. It has been a REAL surprise to find the dark, twisted, stunningly evil desires that lurk around in the shadows of my soul.