In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “All or Nothing?.”
“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.” — Sylvia Plath
Which one of these two states of mind do I find more dangerous: wanting nothing, or wanting everything?
Well, the first state is ‘wanting everything’ which is a strong desire that shows lack of focus and coherence. This state of mind may occur when we are trying to hold on to things, hold on to our unfulfilled dreams. When we know our end is near or when awareness strikes that all the things we didn’t even notice before, are going to slip out of our fingers, it is then that our desperation shows and we want them all at once. We just want them.
This state of mind may start to show up when middle age strikes and old age is not too far away. We wake up to this fact that time is less but we didn’t do as much as we should have, we didn’t see this world enough, we didn’t travel enough, didn’t have enough parties, didn’t enjoy material comfort, didn’t wear any diamonds ever, didn’t change the curtains since long. This bombardment of desires creates panic and pressure, and in an attempt to do all things at once, people are unable to do justice to all. But that’s ok. They will end up doing a few at least. It is like when we have exams, we do end up studying a lot because there is less time and we make the most of it.
Contrary to this is an extreme state of mind that Eastern religions call ‘renunciation’ and ‘detachment’, giving up of everything. Often people have seen life and can see meaninglessness of it all, the futility of rat-race of life. After that there is lack of interest in anything. They want nothing. No attachments left to any human being, to material things, the whole motivation of life is gone.
Even in this second state of mind the desires are unfulfilled but a person tries a different approach, that is to not have any desires, to learn to curb them. This is ok if one is at peace with oneself. But if by doing so one is shunning worldly responsibilities then they are making their dependents, their children suffer while they themselves rejoice in their make-believe detached state of mind.
I would say, this renouncing is not good for a living person. Life should not be finished before we die. Life itself means looking after our body, having material comforts and provide a good life to others if we can. Having wishes is life, desiring is life, living is life. This also involves, not to weigh up things too much, not to analyse issues too much – but just to live and live as it comes. Meaning of life will reveal itself even when we are living life to its fullest
Thus if one has to make a choice between the two above states, All or Nothing?, the first one is fine if it can be controlled by will and guidance, after which it won’t give panic but happiness. Moreover, the first state of mind means holding on to things (life) too tight… while the second state means running away from life itself.
It’s the right balance that’s needed. Otherwise, we all know what happened to Sylvia Plath’s life.