Donna was her name. My first love. Hook, line and sinker I swallowed the promise of romance. For two years, bliss. Then one day I couldn’t breathe for grief. I was sinking in quicksand, alone again.
Love and Desire – they’re not finished with us until we’re going under for the third time.
Don’t let anyone tell you that the goal of Desire is pleasure. In my experience, Desire aims beyond pleasure to futility, emptiness, and despair.
Let me tell you another story about Desire – the lure of adventure:
My buddies and I were heading into the mountains in an old Volvo station wagon. As dusk fell on top of a steady drizzle, we found ourselves hungry and tired and nowhere near our camping spot. The dirt road was a quagmire. Three of us had to get out and push. The more the wheels spun, the deeper that car sank. The driver, Murray (I’ll remember him forever), from his enviable position behind the wheel, craned his neck out the window:
“Remember! You’re having an adventure when you wish you weren’t having an adventure.”
Once again, Desire led not to pleasure, but to mud. Muck and misery. Except that this time our pain had a context — adventure. And we knew what adventure was – the broken promise of desire.
Yes, Desire, that sexy beast, had a hidden agenda.
This next story isn’t mine. It’s The Odyssey by Homer, the oldest of legends. Odysseus spends ten sex-and-adventure-filled years trying to reach home after fighting in the Trojan Wars. His ship enters straits famous for the deadly promise of the Sirens. No mortal can resist their song, and Odysseus is no exception.
He becomes mad with Desire.
But Odysseus has learned a thing or two. He’s living in the aftermath of failure, and has become intimate with the nature of Desire. He can see its consequences. He’s wise enough now that he no longer needs the punishing but necessary lessons that Desire offers less conscious lovers and adventurers.
So Odysseus commands his crew to block their ears with beeswax and steer an unfaltering course past temptation. Odysseus, ears wide open, orders himself bound firm to the ship’s mast. He binds himself to the mast of his higher nature! His sights are set on completing his mythical journey ‘home’.
Odysseus is not immune to Desire, but he has transcended Desire.
And so – so what? (We must always ask, So what?)
She who understands her deepest impulses can participate in her own evolution. And if “evolution” is too hifalutin a concept, then “education”. And if “education” sounds too boring, then you probably need to meet Donna and go on an extended camping trip.
Ten years should about do it.