Want. Not Want.

At lunch with friends today, the topic of “wanting” came up. I said I didn’t want anything. “You have no ambition,” one woman remarked. Ambition is defined as an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment. So yes, she’s right. I have no ambition. Since I have no earnest desire for anything, I have no particular willingness to strive for its attainment. I would like to be renowned as a writer, of course, but that’s not really an earnest desire, more of a wistful longing. Still, some people love my writing, so that’s renown of a sort, maybe even more so than being recognized by an admiring (or unadmiring) bog.

I do want to dance yinyangbetter, and I am willing to strive for that goal by doing my best at as many classes as I can take, but dancing is not really a “want,” maybe more of a need. Learning is what I do — the ability to learn is the one true talent I have — and at the moment, I am focused on dancing.

I softened the blow of my non-ambition by admitting that I did want to want something. My family, my life mate/soul mate, my various loves — both human and inanimate — have defined my life at different times, but now there is only me. Wanting something would help set a path, create a passion, establish a goal. Wanting something would define my life for me.

And yet . . . I am just mystical enough to not want to want anything — to simply go with the flow of life and see where it takes me, to be open to possibilities of all kinds, to be spontaneous and follow my instincts of the moment, to experience the world in a more intimate way than through the shutters of a familiar room. (Besides, the very act of definition imposes limits, and I am trying to open up my life, not limit it.)

Taking dance classes came from a spontaneous flowing when I noticed a nearby dance studio. I never had any desire to dance, never even conceived of such a possibility, in great part because I am not limber, disciplined, or musical. (To show how non-musical I am, for the past seventeen months in Hawaiian class, we’ve been doing two different types of warm-up exercises to the same piece of music, and I never even noticed that the music was the same until someone pointed it out to me a couple of days ago. Eek. How is that possible?)

I also want an epic adventure, and to that end, I consider such foreign ideas (foreign to my nature, that is) as walking across the country, hiking a national trail, stealth camping wherever I might find myself, and whatever else my magpie mind fancies at the moment. But whether I physically set out on such a journey or just live as fully as I can, there will always be epic adventures. Dancing is such an adventure for me. Leaving my father’s house after it is sold, will be another adventure since I have no idea where I am going or what I will do (except continue to take dance classes).

So . . . Want. Not want. Either way, it doesn’t make much difference to me. Seems as if that’s an adventure in itself.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

7 Responses to “Want. Not Want.”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    The yin-yang symbol up there is perfect for this post. You are sometimes very Daoist Pat, you just go with the flow and don’t fight against the universe. I think eventually the universe will allow the flow to take you to whatever’s next when the time comes.

  2. sumalama Says:

    One doesn’t need to have ambition to live a good life, a life that fulfills, a life that is complete and adventurous. I have no ambitiion and I am one of the happiest people I know. Adventures come to me. Life can be like that for you, too. You already have the joy of dancing. You will eventually have the adventure of deciding where to live. I guess what I’m trying to say is it is all a matter of point of view.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I don’t think ambition is important, either. It seems to be part of our cultural conditioning, and I’ve spent my life trying to undo that conditioning, to find out lies beneath the veneer of our society and its mores.

      I like the idea that adventures might come to me. Or maybe the impetus might come on the spur of the moment. I just don’t want to live a stagnant life of nothing special. (Special to me, that is.)

  3. Constance Koch Says:

    Wanting or desires? To be happy in what ever you do.

  4. mickeyhoffman Says:

    Ambition is a strange word which seems linked with monetary success or the desire to be best in a competition. If I wanted to be terrific at Tai Chi, for example, I wouldn’t use the word ambition with it unless I intended to compete. Maybe you’re just not that into competition? I’ve had plenty hair-raising adventures. They’re great to talk about AFTER but at the time mostly what I thought (when I could even think straight) was “How did I get myself into this and how do I get out?”

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