For a time, I misplaced the meaning of desire.
At my worst, drinking and desire became inextricably linked. Back then, I was certain that being wasted was a sure-fire, all-access pass to the things I most longed for in my life — Love. Acceptance. Meaning. But, it didn’t take very long to discover — I was wrong. And, when everything collapsed, I struggled to begin again. Even with a clear head, I had trouble deciphering what it was I really wanted.
Long after getting sober, I found myself wondering why things continued to fall apart. All my desires, even my most deliberate and cognizant ones, lead me astray. And, later, I would learn that — I had completely missed the point.
Gratitude is the point. Perhaps the most notable of all my epic lessons is that — no matter where I stand in life — there must be gratitude there. It is the cornerstone. Because if we cannot love, at least in part, what we already have — there is no point desiring more. It’s a lesson that took years to learn. I denied it. I fought it. But, I never outran it. In my ungrateful state, I continued to meet disappointment, regret, and tragedy again and again. — Without gratitude, we become bitter and selfish.
The only way to tap into gratitude’s thick, gooey center is — Love. The unconditional kind. — But to know love unconditionally, you first have to tolerate things that are conditional — and it’s painful. But, every Yin will find its Yang.
Once, at the end of a relationship, I was told that we hadn’t made it because I hadn’t loved unconditionally. At the time, I believed I had given everything. Because, in some way, I had — I had given all I had to give. But, the condition of having given enough won’t save a relationship — or anything else for that matter. If love is truly unconditional, there is always more. There must be reciprocity, because — true love returns to itself. Unconditional love is without breaks or cracks. It’s cyclical. In the end, conditions will only breed resentment. And, where resentment grows — gratitude cannot.
Releasing my own conditions, giving of my heart as it beats today, and allowing that exchange to be enough — was a game changer. It made space where I once had none. I learned to adapt. In rewiring my heart for gratitude, I found joy in what little remained. At my rock bottom — it was meager — but it was a start.
There’s a line from an Elliott Smith song that has stuck with me from the moment I first heard it years ago: “You’ll take advantage ’til you think you’re being used. ‘Cause without an enemy, our anger gets confused.” That line continues to define my inner addict. I have to remember, daily, that nothing has been done to me. We do things and we allow things to happen. And, if we listen to our desires — truly listen — we can walk toward or away from anything with ease. Even the booze.
A grateful heart will treasure the scraps it finds in the soot and ashes. Inside my own guarded heart, love picks all my locks. And, when the latches release — it’s me who pushes the doors wide open.
On the other side, I find my desire again. In gratitude, I am shown the good of all my things — my people. Cyclical. Reciprocal. Gratitude is unconditional.
Today, I throw my love to the wind — without its old conditions. And, love sent out with gratitude returns like a boomerang.
So, throw open the doors to your heart. And when your desire returns — let it love you back.