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.

Life Is An Epic Adventure

Recently I’ve been thinking and blogging about my need for an adventure, such as walking up the Pacific coast, thru-hiking a national trail, or visiting all the national parks. Something life changing. Something truly epic.

I’ve never been a particularly adventuresome sort, but the waning of grief over the death of mate/soul mate has left me with a vast restlessness and a desire for expanding my boundaries, both personally and geographically. From the beginning (the beginning of my grief, that is), I’ve been determined not to waste his death, and somehow settling down somewhere and living a tame life seems a waste. I want to explore the wild woman within, find out what she is capable of, live a bolder life than I’ve always lived. (Well, bolder within certain parameters. I certainly have no interest in bold pursuits such as skydiving or jet skiing. Walking, one foot always solidly on the ground, is more my style.)

I don’t know if I will ever be able to follow the call of adventure — responsibilities and physical capabilities could be a deterrent. But the truth is, life itself is an adventure of epic proportions. From the moment we are born, we grow and learn, always trying to expand our reach. We love and hate, laugh and cry, connect with others and disconnect, dance, tell stories, wish upon a star, dream of things that never were. Some people have families and children that bring them sorrow and joy. Some people have wonderful careers that sustain them. Some people have otherworldly experiences that that comfort, challenge, terrify. Some people are lucky enough to fall deeply in love, and sometimes those same people fall deeply into grief. Such epic experiences!

Although I dream of a separate epic adventure within the adventure of life itself, I do try to see the epicness of each day and experience whatever life brings me. Sometimes I find myself in the mountains, in the desert, or by the coast. Sometimes I find myself offering support or accepting comfort. Sometimes I find myself at lunch with friends — and what a privilege that is! It’s amazing how the turns of life often bring people from all over the world to a single place for a while and then with another turn, disperses them.

I suppose even sitting here writing this is an epic adventure. The internet, which burst into life a mere 25 years ago, connects people in a way that even the vicissitudes of life haven’t managed. Break Time, the steampunk the anthology I’m putting together with authors from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, USA, could only be the product of the internet with all of us coming together (without ever meeting) for such a fascinating project.

Still, even though writing might satisfy some folks’ idea of adventure, right now the sun beckons me. I think I’ll go out for a walk and experience the epicness of life first hand.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and 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.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.