Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It

I am still processing the book I just finished reading – “Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It” by Maile Meloy. The book is great on its own – I couldn’t help but admire the precision of each sentence, phrases that stick to your mind and re-emerge when you least expect it. There aren’t many descriptions but it’s one of the most “visual” books I’ve ever read, when you can see everything so clearly like you are a silent witness, as if you are actually there. But it’s the idea at the basis of the book that strikes me the most, one of those obvious notions that somehow we fail to notice and acknowledge until someone points the idea out. It leaves you astonished: I knew it but I didn’t know it!

It’s one of the biggest ironies of life – wanting everything, wanting the opposite from what we have, wanting both the things even knowing that having one excludes the possibility of the other. We are being torn by our contradictory desires, trying to establish what it is that we want more and stick to the choice derived in the torturous battle of mind. When we choose one way we cross out the other still secretly longing for it, half-mourning the loss. If we try to have it both ways, to float in the middle, we are burdened by guilt and dissatisfaction from having it only half-way. We begin to hurt from hurting the others.

“The force with which he wanted it both ways made him grit his teeth. What kind of fool wanted it only one way?”

A mindful approach can provide some relief. Acknowledging both the wants, consciously choosing one, giving yourself reasons to justify the choice may quiet down the troubled mind. We can control our actions but can we ever be truly in control of our desires? Can we stop wanting something because that’s an order given by sense which knows better? Or we just learn to live with this paramount longing, our secret wants, unfulfilled desires, rebelling occasionally, trying to have it both ways but always failing.

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