Desire is an interesting emotion. Desire seems to be dramatically more forceful than mere want. Yet desire is less powerful than need.  Or is it? Are the two inextricably combined? Desire may not be articulated openly; unlike need, desire often is expressed through hints. Want or need usually is either obvious or readily identified and broadcast to an audience that might meet the want. Desire, though, may be deniably implied, as if overt expression might be dangerous or, worse, viewed as unwelcome or inappropriate. If the object of desire does not possess a reciprocal emotion, it is either inanimate or unattainable. Philosophies and hypotheticals. The eternal “what-ifs” toy with the mind.

Among the reasons the relationship between desire and need is on my mind was last night’s viewing of a bit more of the series, The Crown. I saw desire and need—both expressed and implied. Watching the program, I sensed the characters’ emotional desires in some contexts and their psychological needs in others. And, sometimes, both emotions competed within the same context. The flames of desire can be quenched through rejection, while needs are not vulnerable to extinguishment  until they are met.  I think my cryptic consideration of this matter is far too esoteric to be understood by most people who might come across this post; so, I shall abandon my meandering ponderings for the moment.

Love is simply the name for the desire and the pursuit of the whole.

~ Aristophanes ~


Arguments could be made that the Colorado State University students—who chanted “Russia” toward a Ukrainian junior guard for Utah State during a game day before yesterday in Fort Collins, Colorado—are simply immature. Some might argue that a strong reprimand might teach the students a lesson. Is it possible, though, to teach basic human decency to people who have reached college age? If it is, would a strong reprimand accomplish the objective? I doubt it. Compassion arises from emotional connections with others; repeatedly putting oneself in another’s shoes solidifies those connections. The people who chanted “Russia” as the Ukrainian student went to the free throw line obviously did not put themselves in his shoes. In my view, a reprimand—no matter its strength—is unlikely to imbue them with compassion. While the kids are not irredeemable, their behavior has demonstrated their appalling cruelty and malicious spitefulness. That level of malevolence merits more than a reprimand. If the chanters can be identified, I would be in favor of a three-pronged response: 1) nullifying any college credits they may have earned to date; 2) requiring a full semester of sensitivity training, ending with a pass-fail exam that measures emotional and psychological fitness to participate in society; and 3) subjecting them to public shaming and ridicule. Perhaps that reaction is too severe. Perhaps the response would be viewed as vengeance, rather than correction. So be it. Flagrant cruelty, demonstrating the lack of compassion, makes my blood boil and causes my own compassion to dissolve into a mist of rage and retribution. If I were to reveal how I really feel about the students who taunted the Ukrainian basketball player, I would write about how I feel they deserve public flogging and torturous imprisonment. Hypocritical thinking erupts in me when a desire for retaliation replaces compassion. I am glad I took my blood pressure this morning before reading about the game night incident.


My wish for quiet solitude and my hope for peaceful enjoyment of this early morning has gone to hell. I recognize my hypocrisy in wanting peace, on one hand, and retributive justice, on the other. I understand the disconnect between my worship of compassion and my embrace of mercilessness. Intellectually, I can view my attitudes and my behaviors from the perspective of detachment and impartial assessment. But emotionally, flames of rage and almost uncontrollable anger almost consume me. And the white heat of those emotions threatens to overwhelm my feelings of compassion. No, it is far beyond a threat; I have absolutely no compassion for people who demonstrate an utter lack of compassion. In some circumstances, compassion necessarily requires forgiveness. When I find myself unwilling or unable to forgive, I realize I have deconstructed the passion of compassion. It is then I allow punishment and/or revenge to become more desirable than redemption. And, then, I wonder whether I am truly compassionate or I am simply playing along, masking my true self—showing my similarities to those bastards who taunted the Ukrainian player.


I had a dream last night in which I was attempting to make a phone call to my mother. I was given a desk phone that would reach her number, regardless of which of several area code prefixes I used. In the same dream, I think, I walked into a Home Depot to buy something, but realized after I entered that I had in my pockets some unopened items I had bought at another Home Depot; but no receipts. I worried that I might be accused of attempting to shoplift those items in my pocket. There was more, of course. But the rest, as blurry as it is, seemed to be just as meaningless and troubling. No matter how certain I am, at times, that dreams have no intrinsic “meaning,” I often wonder whether they convey messages I simply am not sufficiently intelligent to understand.


Today, I have a follow-up visit with my primary care doctor’s APN, who will make a determination as to how well I am doing in my efforts to control what was diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. I think I am doing a bang-up job of it, the proof of which is my ongoing deprivation of foods I crave. And, of course, my blood glucose numbers. But my assessment is based on a two-dimensional understanding of the affliction. Hers is more comprehensive; it is a three-dimensional understanding based on far greater knowledge of the body’s intricacies than I will ever have. We shall see.


Speaking of food, I feel famished, despite the fact that we had a very nice meal last night, consisting of a petite filet mignon and a nice salad for each of us.  Dinner would have been even better if a nice glass of malbec or sauvignon blanc had accompanied it. Instead, we drank water with our meals. My pride in eating sensibly is eclipsed by my wish that I could eat and drink anything I desire, without worry that the food could damage my health. Yet I cling to that eclipsed pride, a consolation prize that must be allowed to stand in for the unavailable gastronomic trophy.


And, now, I’m off to conquer the day.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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