“When we are lost in our longings, Aurelius, already it is too late”
– Kathleen Graber, “Book Nine”
We’re all addicted. There is no end to our wanting. Not hunger, but obsession. For passion, poison, perfection. Not desire but mechanism. The ceaseless grind of life. I used to think I could die when I no longer want for anything. Now I think I will die if I stop wanting, finish crossing off all reasons to breathe.
There’s no escaping it: to live you must pick your poison. Something to hang your cares on. Some people drink, some paint, some run. Mine is a secret, not so much a vice as a pathology: a kind of compulsion, a necessary affliction. Torrent rushing in to fill a void I can’t. I can’t help it, can’t stop, I can’t. Make it go away.
I am always running—on the track, on the trail, off to school, off to work, on a quest, after love, after deadlines, after dreams. There are no finish lines, only milestones and pit stops, detours and roadblocks. It isn’t easy to want so much.
On the highway to the highlands I think of (all I want to give) you. One day, look, look. Fields, mountains, rivers, sky. All this. Beauty, a hand held out.
And by “you” I mean “no one.” For there is no one that I desire, and perhaps that is my problem. I reach out to touch air.
There is a tiny bakery in the corner of a dingy street that I often pass by on the way home, and it sells breads and cakes at discounted rates around closing time. One night as I am walking on this street leading home, rain pours, muddying the road and spattering my shoes, soaking my bag and my shirt. I run to the tiny bakery and take shelter under its eaves, and stare at its glass shelves reflecting rain, at the breads and the cakes illuminated by orange lamplight—tarts, tempting, in a dingy street. But I am not hungry. I don’t even like eating cakes or bread. I buy fifty pesos’ worth of bread.
“If you ask me what I want, I’ll tell you. I want everything.” NOW.
Some people, they can’t take it; they burn or wither for wanting too little, too much. Some people hang their cares on a rope around their necks, pull the brakes.
But I’m fine, I’m good, I’m okay.