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June 02, 2005

Wanting What You Want

I'm not going to pretend that I understand a damned thing that William S. Burroughs says, but it makes for a damned fine monologue in the music of Bill Laswell. One thing that he said in 'The Road to the Western Lands' went something like, why doesn't a man know that he can't want what he wants? I think I understand that, even though I don't want to.

BTW, The Naked Lunch was one of those movies I used to be embarrassed to say that I was embarrassed about. Now I know it's expository crap.

Aside from all of that, it's my birthday tomorrow. The Spousal Unit was well on her way to taking care of me, as she does so well, but we ran into a budget issue. So now she had to ask me, in lieu of the surprise she had waiting, what I want. What do I want? That's impossible to answer.

I recall believing only one fortune cookie. It said that I will never be a millionaire, but I will be so accustomed to living low that I won't care. I think that it's coming true. I think I have found my place.... Naaah. But what do I want? There has only been one person who has ever come close to giving me exactly what I wanted, and he flaked out on me big time. If he hadn't, I'd be writing this blog from a penthouse in Beijing. Nobody can give me what I want. You can't afford me. Listen to my attitude. Who in their right mind would give me what I want?

So I have a level of desire which is moderated, as well as a sense of humility and practicality which has to do with the Way of the Servant. I am the master of my fate, and I find myself managing and moderating, having experimental mental flirtations with the dark side. I watch the fictional character Vic Mackey and even though I want to be a crusader for justice, I let him do it. I am vicariously satiated, because I have to run in place. I am a river to my people.

My people are my family, and they get all the rest of the chicken after I take the big piece. I don't often want chicken *and* steak. I'm cool without it, in fact I'm happier when I announce that I will be providing steak for the fam. That's more fun than eating my own.

I know that selflessness is self-destructive. Ayn Rand wasn't wasted (or overspent) on me. I love myself in the mirror, but I'm Daddy. It's not about me.

But what do I want?

I want a bike, but I know that my wife knows that my kind of bike is too expensive. I'd have to have a Trek or else it wouldn't be worth it. Why? Because I had a Trek back in the day when biking was important to me, when it was what I really wanted. Do I want to relive my past? No. Been there, done that. Who cares what I do next? Nobody really. So what difference does it make what I want? I only thought about a bike because of the guy I saw on the cover of Men's Health yesterday at the drug store. I ought to look like that. It's something I want for myself, but like Neo in the Matrix, it's just my reflexive self-image. It's how I see myself even though I don't look like that. So what would I be trying to prove by looking like that? Do I want other people to see me as I see myself? I guess I'm not sure I care enough to find out.

I have a right to be demanding. I know how to get what I want, but the fact is that I mostly do get my way, and I am satisfied enough so that I don't feel like I have to prove anything. I don't have anything to prove - there's a formula for a lack of desire. But there must be something I want.

I want a million dollars to fall into my lap. If I wished for this and got it, it would probably be in the form of my neighbor's house in Laguna sliding down the hill. I don't engage in wishful thinking. I don't really want what I want.

You see, I'm in transition from feeling relatively assured that I was going to get most everything I could wish for. It was right there in the palm of my hand. And it failed in the best way, in the way that I could take none of the blame for the failure. I had my moment of glory in knowing that my moment of glory was close at hand. I had the moment before capture, I was like the youth on the grecian urn with success in my grasp. And then the urn shattered but it was not my fault. I was liberated by the prospect of liberation. And now I am living that down, knowing that I am just one or two degrees of separation from my destiny - the alternate destiny, the wealthy and international me.

I wanted it. I had it. I simply didn't realize it. Now I feel lucky and unlucky about it. But what do I want?

I think it would be interesting to get what I want just to see what happens. I really want to be Santa Claus - a rogue philanthropist with the juice to play Mr. Rourke of Fantasy Island. But see, that's not about me, it's about me giving people what they want.

This sounds so very uplifting and charismatic, but it makes me prone to the Dark Side. I am a prisoner of good character because I am genuinely empathetic. I like helping, and I rarely get in a mood to be destructive. Wreckless perhaps, but never purposefully destructive. I like Adam Sandler's Mr. Deeds. I like Adam Sandler - the very idea of him getting drunk and wrecking his girlfriend's new Lexus. That's funny to me. Wreckless...

Perhaps what I want is license to be wreckless. That requires more money and time than I can afford. It would be a luxury for a responsible ass like myself. I don't mind that I can't afford it because life has luck ahead for me - good or bad, it will be a surprise, and I am confident I'll pull through. So I just want to be around to be a good example for my kids. I need the good health, that's all. It's not about me.

On the other hand, there are always fine watches. A Hamilton Trent would be nice right about now. Eh.. maybe I'll just get the XBox fixed. No, scratch that... What I need is more socks. Socks and underwear. ..and this chair. That's all I need. But what do I want?

I guess I'm like a reverse Hall & Oates, singing 'I could go for that'. Let's just see what happens.

Posted by mbowen at June 2, 2005 05:41 PM

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My birthday is Sunday. I feel the same way.

Posted by: Lester Spence [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 2, 2005 07:30 PM

My birthday passed in April. I got what I wanted without knowing what I wanted ahead of time: a Cleveland Browns sign for my house, and a LeBron James bobblehead for my desk at work.

Just as you stated you have a personal image of yourself that is different from your real image others see you might have wants that you think you want, but others see what you really want.

Happy Birthday Cobb!

Posted by: Matt at June 3, 2005 09:43 AM

Glad you realize that things can't give you what you want. There's a vaccuum that only God can fill. We all have one. You are so much like me that it is scary! The old me before I was born again.

Posted by: Anonymous at June 3, 2005 06:51 PM

Dear Cobb, no one understands Burroughs. He's one of those writers people pretend to admire because it makes them superior to those who object to his total obscureness. I hope that's the right word.

Posted by: Anita at June 6, 2005 07:12 AM

happy birthday (again), son.


Posted by: bobowen at June 6, 2005 04:48 PM

it's reckless, no 'w'

Posted by: your commentary is awesome! at June 14, 2005 12:55 PM