The Abyss of Want

Growing up, my parents treated crying as a both shameful and usually deliberate act. When I cried, I felt that I could stop crying if I wanted to, and that I was consciously choosing to cry. After all, if I just concentrated really hard on shutting my mouth and holding my breath and thinking about other things, the crying would stop, which meant that I had power over it. The sensation of crying as deliberate made crying very uncomfortable to me, and caused me to question my motivations whenever I cried. Was I trying to make me pity myself? Was I hoping someone would walk in and see me cry? Why was I intentionally being so weak by allowing myself to cry?

After I became an adult, part of the process of coming to terms with crying was believing that it was inevitable. When I cried and the thought “I could stop this” crept into my mind, I responded with “no, I can’t.” Believing crying is inevitable is vital for me to surrender to the crying, but I always have the sensation that I’m ‘play believing,’ that I’m humoring myself.

If you ask the question ‘what do you want,’ and then follow it up with an infinite series of ‘why do you want that’, it quickly gets murky.

When I took acid, my primary (goal?) activity was learning what I wanted. It helped me see through the Abyss of Want, and eventually I came to realize that the abyssal floor was something like this:

“I have full self knowledge. I have no attachment myself. I hold no beliefs. I am experiencing the present moment. I am shuddering in ecstacy (of pain or pleasure). There is no difference between what ought to happen and what is.”

Phrasing this in a more accessable narrative way: “I want my life to be lived fully. I want to soak up the beauty of everything around me. I want to experience maximum love. I want to be someone who is at peace. I want this because failing it would be a waste of an incredible gift. I want my deathbed to be the final page to a book of glory.”

My excess use of acid granted me my want. It sank me to the floor of the abyss, and there I lived, a shuddering mess of contentment. I entered a state, months long, where I was at peace. I had no attachment to myself. I held no beliefs.

It took me months of swimming in the answer to realize that there was another, deeper level – and it was a level that looked suspiciously similar to all the ones I had passed through to get here.

I realized that what I had actually wanted, this whole time, was to not get what I wanted. I wanted to feel want. I wanted to be in that state of tension, answerless and seeking. I wanted to unknow.

I wanted to unknow much like I wanted to unknow that I was able to stop myself from crying. I didn’t want to feel the invisible god of my own watching eye, destroying my ability to feel unsatisfied, much as I didn’t want to feel my own sense of control over my tears, destroying my ability to immerse myself in the crying.

When I cry now, I “believe” that I can’t stop it, because I have to believe I can’t stop it in order to properly cry. When I feel anxious or sad in life, I “believe” that I don’t have the ability to stop my own distress, because the floor of my Abyss of Want is to not get what I want. It is a continual exercise in self-deception.

This Abyss of Want has reframed the way I view other people’s personal journeys. Pre-acid it felt almost like something measurable – that “he knows more about himself than I do” or “I’m closer to knowing than she is.” It was easy to feel a sense of judgment.

But what I found was that the Abyss is a circle, and there can be no comparison in a line that starts where it ended. I want to not get what I want, and people anywhere else have already attained that. The purpose is in the desire, not the fulfillment of it. All you have to do is desire.