1st Order Desire – A simple desire. The desire for food, comfort, and sex.
2nd Order Desire – A desire about a desire: I desire not to desire food so much, because it will make me fat. I desire not to desire sex so much, because I will catch VD. Etc.
It was just after dawn. I thundered along the track, kicking up wet gravel and splashing through puddles. I was on my second two mile run of the morning. My lungs burned. No matter how hard I pumped my legs, I knew my time was going to be miserable. I doubled over three feet past the finish line, sucking wind.
My running shoes were soaked. I felt the blisters on my feet with every short, robotic stride. My knees ached from sprinting in body armor in the days before. I was running unencumbered, but you wouldn’t know it to look at me. I could taste blood on every breath.
I was more than passing, but less than perfect. 90-something percent.
The Shogun once told me that I had no quit in me. That isn’t true. I have a lot of quit in me. From the first quarter mile until the last twenty yards, I felt like quitting. My brain frantically tried to find a short-cut, a bypass, a way out. The word quit burned through my brain like tracer rounds, every fifth thought.
Somewhere on that run I though about my father. I remembered him crushing me for every imperfection.
I have a horrible fear of failure. No matter how implausible or far reaching my goals are, every step I take that deviates from the path fills me with anxiety. Then the negative feedback loop kicks in. Anger. Resentment. Frustration.
I desire happiness. I desire comfort. I desire love.
I desire to be hard.
The first three come without much effort. The last one is a complex desire. I desire not to desire comfort. I desire not to desire happiness. Embrace the suck.
Lying in a sleeping bag in the pouring rain, soaked to the skin and shivering, it occured to me that this is exactly what I volunteered for. Not a ribbon or a piece of cloth. Not a God damned merit badge.
Every test that comes, I find myself wanting to quit. Desperate to quit. Anything to make the pain stop. The desire grows stronger until I fumble across the finish line, feeling wretched. Afterward I realize that I finished. Whatever I think I’m capable of, there is a lot more left on the table.