I’ll be honest, I’m battling a little bit with the theme of “desire” for this month.
Back in the olden days (January), May seemed like a good month. It’s spring, flowers are blooming, there’s usually optimism and freshness in the air.
It’s hard to think about desire when there are kids running around your work desk (or spot on the couch), when you can’t work, when a loved one is sick, when you’re afraid of getting yourself or someone else sick, when the systems around us are crumbling, when so much is uncertain.
It’s hard to think about desire when it seems the world is upside down and inside out.
But – what if we could think about desire not as productivity, but as keeping the littlest of sparks in us alive?
Desire doesn’t have to be an outcome goal, “Write 300 words, finish the first draft of a novel, learn guitar/Spanish/knitting.”
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: just because Shakespeare wrote King Lear during the plague doesn’t mean you have to complete anything during this time.
What would desire look like if you detached it from an endpoint?
For me, that’s looking like free writing 15 minutes a day, without trying to make it be “for” anything – I’m not writing a book or a story, but I’m stoking my desire to write.
It’s looking like running without a plan, without trying to hit times or mileage – I’m not training for a race, but I’m stoking my desire to run and be outside and move my body.
It’s taking breaks in the backyard, giving J an extra hug, slowing down on beach walks, watching the sunset every night.
One thing this pandemic is really cementing for me is that we’ve built a society where we value productivity, busyness, objective and tangible outputs, efficiency, convenience, labels, status, money, and it’s really really hard to break out of that because we’ve been in it for generations. It’s a society that tells us how much we should do with all of this “spare time” now that we’re not commuting or working or going out.
What if we lived in a society that valued health and safety and connection and being human?
What if we built our time to understand the value of decompressing, of staying safe, of acting for the greater good, of letting go?
What if we valued the importance of having desire, true desire, not desire because we think we have to or should, but because it’s what makes us feel alive?
We wouldn’t build a structure that requires a single parent to work three jobs to make ends meet. That requires women (especially non-white women) to work more than men to earn the same amount. That requires a hierarchy, that requires billionaires, that requires a rat race or borders closing or lobbyists or corporations.
My version of utopia is that everyone can ask themselves, what do I desire, and get a real, human answer. And then make it possible for others to live their own desires.
I can start with myself.