“I am going to tell you a secret. Everything is about wanting. Everything. Things happen because of people wanting. Watch closely, and you’ll see what I mean.”
Some time back, I read this quote on the Internet. I mulled over the quote for a few minutes, then forgot about it. Then recently, I re-read it, and decided to figure out if *everything* really was about wanting.
Sure, a lot of things happen because we want. People go the movies because they want to relax. People go to a restaurant because they don’t want to have to cook. They spend time on the Internet because they want to get away from the distractions of the real world, or for some other reason that they want. Want, want, want. The last time I was at the mall, I did one of my favorite things: people watching. I saw people at the food court, because they wanted something to eat. I saw people purchasing clothes, because they wanted to add something to their wardrobe. There were people on their phones, wanting to stay in the know-how.
But then I realized that there were certain things that were a bit trickier. Why do people work? They need money for food, clothing, shelter—the necessities. So are those directly related to wanting, or more due to a sense of need? For a few minutes, I wasn’t certain if it all boiled down to wanting, because working seemed to be something that had to be done, not necessarily because people want to work. But people work for their necessities, because they don’t want to starve. They don’t want to be homeless. They don’t want their children to suffer. It’s not automatically a selfish sort of want, but nonetheless, it is a want. We crave safety and security, and so we do what we have to in order to have what we want.
Things happen because of wanting. I want, you want, we all want. I do something for a friend’s birthday because I want them to enjoy it, and I don’t want them to think that I’m a coldhearted being. I write because I want to get thoughts out of my head. I want what I want, and there’s no stopping it.
So then, what about when someone helps an old lady cross the street? When you give someone a hefty tip? When I offer to take care of kids for no reason? We don’t want anything in return, and we don’t need to offer our assistance. For most of the day, I tried to work around what happens when we do the right thing without wanting everything, and then it struck me: We do the right thing because we want to do the right thing. It was so obviously simple that I’d completely missed it. All of our actions that we do are intrinsically and invariably related to wanting. We work, relax, socialize, love, and believe because of wanting. Wanting.
I believe that Jess Walter expressed it best in one of his books when he said, “We want what we want.” Our motivation, our drive, our nature is based in wanting. We might say that we don’t, but we do. To admit to wanting is difficult for most of us because we don’t want to appear shallow and selfish, but it is the truth.
Because the truth, in fact, is really quite simple, yet so hopelessly confounding: We want what we want.
Less than three,