What I Want Is What I’ve Not Got

“What I want is what I’ve not got
But what I need is all around me
Reaching searching never stop”

Jimi Thing

A fundamental human condition: we are burdened with desire for something we don’t have.

We may not know exactly what we need – but what feels most certain is that we don’t have it. What we need is all around us – but never actually in our possession. This catalyzes a lifetime of seeking and experiencing and acquiring… to scratch an itch that refuses to be scratched.

Many interpretations of this song relate to sex, drugs, and other desires. These interpretations all feel aligned with the core reflection… they are ways to experience freedom from a deep and nebulous appetite – at least for “a small time”. A cycle, where “Reaching and searching never stop”.

Hearing With New Ears

A perk of driving an old car? It’s a time capsule. A friend discovered a large stack of CDs in the glovebox that I hadn’t touched in over a decade, and I made an offer: pick one and we’ll listen to the first song fully no matter what – even if the music is terrible.

It took about two seconds to know it was Dave Matthews. I admit – during the first few seconds – all I could feel was the immaturity of listening to this music while dazed-and-confused as a teenager. Not just me, an entire generation in the late 90s when this album defined the era. A background track to escape life with.

Two days later I was back in the car and the music played again. This time – the fogginess of younger days was absent – all I experienced was beautiful intricate melodies and poetry without past associations and projections.

Not only is this music truly complex and unique – there is some timeless wisdom within. While it might have felt obvious in the 90s to use this song as an escape companion, it is now a sober invitation to observe the basic human appetite itself. Noticing and understanding this appetite, as opposed to merely indulging it, leads to a level comfort I could not possibly fathom long ago.

It’s interesting to find – again and again – reflections about insatiable desire strewn about history… embedded in music, art, stories. They open a door to consider this aspect of life more deeply. In doing so, a feeling of relief can set in.

“In the short-run, habitual movement toward something that we imagine as pleasant seems to work. In the long-run, the more we scratch the itch, the more it itches, and pretty soon we have a festering sore.”
Joan Tollifson

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