Why do you desire what you desire?
Freedom is attained not by satisfying desires but by removing them. (Seneca)
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“Why do you desire x?“
“I don’t know. I just do. It’s part of who I am, I guess.”
“Can you recall a time when this desire was not part of who you are?“
“Yes, I can.”
“So the desire was acquired at some point along the way. It very likely started with a singular experience.
Who you are, your identity is a construct. And, as you very well know, by looking back at who you were at different stages of your life, identity is ever changing.
Identity is yet another instance of compounding.
One day you do something different. A new experience, an experiment. At that point, it feels insignificant. You get some benefit out of it, however small, so you repeat the experience. And then you do it again, and again, and again, and again… At every point, it feels just as insignificant, but, in time, their cumulative effect brings about a significant change:
I am the one who does y.
That initial action, apparently insignificant, was the SEED for a thousand subsequent actions.
If you think of their combined effect in terms of energy expenditure, time and money spent, physical and mental impact on your future-self, the result is dramatic, for better or for worse.
Given the significance of that first action, was it a wise choice?“
“If am to be honest with myself, no, it wasn’t. I did it unthinkingly.”
“I think most of us have a tendency to go through life unthinkingly.
One important facet of Wisdom is taking full ownership of the Process. ‘Living Intentionally’, as Cal Newport put it. Or, as someone else put it, ‘Living by Design, not by default’.
This means, among other things, scrutinizing ALL the things we take for granted, and ELIMINATING those that do not serve us, or serve us too little.
I view it in aesthetic terms. I call it Life Artistry.”
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)