I'm trying to cultivate an awareness of privilege. It's like cultivating an attitude of gratitude, a very overused and trite phrase (or has it become trite due to overuse?). At any rate, it occurred to me recently how privileged I am. Sometimes, I think we associate that word with Beverly Hills housewives, or wealthy white men in suits looking down their old noses at us from the cover of Forbes. But really, if you look at the world in general, I have a very privileged life.
If I want to download a book to read on my ipad, click, I have it. I stopped working one day a week because it stressed me out, so now I work four days. I can turn up the thermostat if I want, although if B is home, he might complain about being too hot—but not about the money it costs to keep me cozy. I have a cabinet with three shelves, loaded with tea and coffee products. I have a table that has no use except to hold my seasonal decorations and—another sign of privilege—our Bose sound dock.
We have a brand new kitchen. And not a cheap one—it's got quartz countertops and a pull-down faucet and soft-close drawers and sliding drawers and a heavy-duty lazy Susan, which we use for all of our pots.
Still, I complain about what I haven't got, what I want and can't have right now, and about other things: I'm lucky to have a job, when so many don't, and yet the clients irritate the shit out of me. I adore my animals, but sometimes, I just don't want to deal with them. I have sneakers without holes in the bottom, but I want new ones.
Buddhism is letting go of "want." Maybe not at its core, but that's a tenet. In some ways, so is Christianity—let go of "want," and the Lord provides. A financial counselor on Oprah used to advise that we cultivate a mindset in which we already have everything we need. Which we do, on a fundamental level (many don't, I realize, but for the majority, and certainly myself, we do).
It seems small, this writing of things I have, and even smaller, the list of things I want. Not the lists themselves, for they are almost endless. But what do I really want? Would I like a childhood do-over, in which my mother never dies? Do I want my beloved grandparents, her parents, to still be here? It's only been a few years since losing them, and I think of them often, and miss them. Do I wish for my favorite dog back, the one creature so devoted to me that I found that I had never understood the word "devotion" before—and probably have already lost its meaning, lost to the tide of "want."
Our souls are so small. Some say they are vast, that they are the universe itself. I feel that that is correct, and yet, the universe is so small. Everything is so tiny, it fits in a marble in my hand—that's how it feels.
And perhaps this is depression talking now, reducing things, because joy and the largeness of that joy are its opposite.
I cannot understand the size of my want or the solidity of my soul, and I cannot tell sometimes sadness and grief from love and love and more love. So this is all I can do today: make a list of what I have, and try not to think of what I want and do not have. And I have two hands to write this, and a computer to write it on, and dogs snoring next to me, and hot tea (although, bleh, I bought it and this one's not so good—see how I go, all the time? with the complaining?). It's an exercise, much like just living every day is. And exercise. At which I will, apparently, never become proficient. I'll drown the want of my desire to be a great writer in another document, and today, in just this minute, I will try to be satisfied. And grateful.