• Casey McKinley

To desire is to be human



A fly regrettably finds itself inside on a beautiful sunny day. Suddenly, it sees a bright beam of sunlight coming through a window and races toward it.


Rather than escaping into the open air, the fly hits an unseen barrier just before it reaches its destination.


Once recovered from its injury, the fly refocuses on the light and rushes towards it, only to be blocked again by an invisible barrier just before reaching freedom.


The fly will follow this cycle endlessly until it lies lifelessly on the window sill.


We often follow the same pattern in our pursuit of desire.


Like the fly, we are programed to pursue our desires, even if it leads us to crashing headfirst into the window a few (or a lot) of times.


Being endowed with a superior intellect, we will eventually take action to interrupt this painful pattern. Often, we intervene by cutting ourselves off from the feeling we so badly want.


While this repression effectively stops the pattern of self-harm, it also steals any hope of ever quenching our desire. It numbs a vital part of our nature.


In this way, the fly is "smarter" than us. It would never give up its desire. Doing so would prevent it from having any chance of living as it was meant to live.


Like the fly, our unsatisfied desires never go away, no matter how deep we bury them. We are programmed to pursue them until they have been satisfied. Wielding this relentless drive, our desires will eventually break through their confinement. When they do, we will find ourselves banging into the window yet again.


Only for us, we will suffer twice. We will not only experience the physical wounds from hitting the window, but also the emotional shame of not living up to our standards.


The lesson of the fly reveals the flaw in our logic.


Rather than repressing our desire to seek freedom, the fly teaches us that our superior intellect would be better put to use by developing an alternative strategy for getting outside. When we discover that the window doesn't work, we must our attention to finding another way out. For example:


Reframing our unsatisfied desires in this way allows us to discover their true nature. We learn that what we seek is not a specific person, thing or experience, but a feeling.


We see that giving into desire through a harmful action gives us the feeling we crave so badly. However, in the same way the fly experiences freedom during its rush to the window, our feeling of elation is temporary and is followed by pain.


Collectively, we have been raised to believe that desire is bad and weak; that the strong and successful separate themselves by developing willpower to conquer it.


However, this thinking is false. It leads us to cycle endlessly between the pride and judgement of repression and the shame and envy of harmful action. Neither provide any peace.


The truth is that we're like the fly. Our desire to feel the freedom of the open air will live on as long as we do. Only by satisfying our desire will we be able to experience the satisfaction and contentment we've been craving.


While desires are not inherently bad, we must also recognize the enormous power they wield before attempting to tinker with them.


The power of desire is incredibly dangerous. It often blinds us into taking action that inflicts harm on ourself or others, like flying headfirst into a window.


Any attempt to satisfy a desire that could inflict pain must be carefully considered and kept to the bare minimum. Harming ourselves will cause shame, while harming others will produce shame amplified by guilt.


When faced with an action that would likely inflict harm, we must break the harmful pattern and trust that another opportunity will reveal itself. We must believe that we will find (or create) another open crack to escape through. A path free of shame and guilt.


Accepting our desires fully allows us to exit the destructive cycle of repression and harmful action to evaluate the problem with enhanced clarity. We intuitively know our path is not going to be the easiest option. Otherwise, we wouldn't find ourselves so deeply wounded by our previous attempts to escape.


In fact, the solution will require us to face all of the emotions and experiences we have accumulated along the way. While many of them have been buried, they must resurface and be faced with courage and honesty to move on.


This path to satisfy desire in a beneficial way is tumultuous, one that will lead to self destruction if taken alone and without the necessary preparations. However, taken in earnest with a trusted companion (e.g. family, friend, counselor), this is a majestic boulevard to freedom.


It starts with self trust -- trust that we're meant to make it outside and fly across the bright sunny sky.

"To the dull mind all nature is leaden. To the illumined mind the whole world sparkles with light."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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