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Wanting, Cake and Stasis

By June 23, 2010Myth or Reality

If I was sitting in my favorite cushioned rocker from Crate and Barrel circa 1995 with a great book, an ice cold Kombucha, a bag of peanuts and Silas—why would I ever move? I’d have to want something else. Like the toilet or my Blackberry.

Think about it.

I’ve been told that wanting is good. That it actually keeps us alive—because we chase our desires, because the wanting keeps us moving actionably forward towards the getting. It follows, then, that without the wanting, you would hit stasis. Forever. Because there would be nothing to move you out of your current spot.

We would die of starvation if we didn’t get hungry and want food. We would die of dehydration if we didn’t get thirsty and want water. We would die as a species if we didn’t get all kinds of turned on and want sex.

It makes sense. I get it.

But what happens when there’s something you want that you can’t have no matter what? (Or at least the probability is so low, even ants stand too high to see it.) Does that kind of wanting move you forward? Or does it just offer up a different kind of equilibrium—more akin to inactivity or, more aptly, wheel spinning.

And if the way out is still ‘wanting’? Do we just need to want something else?


Have you ever wanted to eat a piece of chocolate cake, but didn’t let yourself have it because you weren’t eating crap that week. So instead, you ate everything else in your kitchen. It doesn’t work to just want something else. ‘Something else’ never fills the hole, never satisfies. No matter how many eggs, carrots, potato chips and pickles you eat and no matter how full you get, you still want the cake.

So, I don’t know about that option. I suppose that would keep us from stasis (or dying). But not from getting fat or fulfilled.

What to do if you can’t have your want, and you can’t eat it too?

Image credit: Chatirygirl

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Kerryqp says:

    And sometimes our eyes are bigger than our heads…because we want what we want when we want it, not necessarily because we need it.

  • Andi says:

    You try to use the pain, the want, the desire. Nothing will replace the cake but sometimes you can dull the pain by tricking your mind. Wanting is a good thing, sometimes when you get what you want you are sure the joy of getting that want will last a lifetime and you may realize that it was the wanting, not the actual object of the want that was the electric charge. You can’t really know, sometimes the fulfillment of getting exactly what you want is exactly what you thought it would be, but sometimes….

  • patrick says:

    How about the famous mythical Winston Churchill quote- “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”?

  • Leon Noone says:

    G’Day Julie,

    I’ve been feeling poorly for a couple of days. At 5pm today, Thursday, I got up to check my emails. I read yours and guffawed.

    I felt lots better. The stuff about gobbling up everything else while avoiding what you really want really amused me. Then I thought, maybe it’s not supposed to be funny…..what the hell. I enjoyed it.

    By the way, my answer to your question is Louis Armstrong Hot Seven tracks with Earl Hines on piano and old Sophia Loren films. That is, old films of the young Soph……which reminds me: how’s S-o-p-h-i-e coming along with D-o-w-n U-n-d-e-r?

    Good fun for all


  • Jill says:

    I say just eat the cake first and skip all the stuff you don’t really want and get on with life!!!!!

  • Dave Doolin says:

    I know what I want. I write and program instead.

  • Hi Juile,
    I came over here via Aaron’s place. This post made such sense to me, I had to leave a comment.

    Because I know you used cake as an example, but this made me think about relationships too. Like if you’re happily married with children, adore your husband, but are also in love your best friend? That would be a big want that absolutely could never, should never happen.

    And bringing in the cake illustration, I think it’s just a case of having a bit of it. For me, having a teeny tiny piece of the cake is enough and (usually!) stops me eating the rest of the kitchen.

    That’s with cake but it’s the same with relationships too I suspect. You just have the healthy, friendship thing and avoid the elephant in the room. Sorted ;)

  • Amy Oscar says:

    Im thinking that longing for the cake is almost the same thing as eating the cake. If we could simply bless and eat the cake – just honor what our body (or, as this is allegorical/metaphorical cake) what our soul wants – perhaps the longing for cake would step aside and we could open to what’s hidden behind it.

    Cuz it’s not about the cake. And it’s not about controlling our desires. It’s about feeling our lives. And sometimes, what we feel is a distinct longing for cake.

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