Wednesday, July 04, 2007

You don't get what you don't ask for

In an email, a friend said: "I already knew you'd ask for what you wanted when you wanted and expect to have it granted too."

My response to him was: "Do I seem the demanding type? Hmm. I'm not, really. It is just rare that I really want something that I cannot provide myself, and if I do find myself in such a situation, if after thinking about it, I really do want it, I will ask. And you are right, if I do ask, I do expect it granted, mainly because I rarely ask. And since I so rarely ask for anything, the people in my life usually go out of their way to give me what I ask for. Being aware of this, I am careful not to abuse them or make excessive demands, nor to have unrealistic expectations. I feel good when I can do what someone asks of me, and I like to think it is a pleasurable experience for those whom I ask, as well. Without reciprocity, without exchange, why bother?"

I typed it quickly and sent it off, and then re-read it. Something about the circular nature of the statement niggled at me. Something about this is familiar, an echo of something else I've recently read. He had written something circular a few weeks earlier, something that reminded me of...

Ah, yes. I reached my right hand out to the bookshelf near my desk and drew forth the slim volume of poems by RD Laing, "knots". And there, on page 32, I found part of it:
I never got what I wanted. I always got what I did not want. What I want I shall not get.
Therefore, to get it I must not want it, since I get only what I don't want.
What I want, I can't get, what I get, I don't want.
I can't get it because I want it, I get it because I don't want it.
I want what I can't get because what I can't get is what I want.
I don't want what I can get because what I can get is what I don't want.
I never get what I want, I never want what I get.

And then on page 50:
She does not get what she wants from him, so she feels that he is mean.
She cannot give him what he wants from her, so she feels that he is greedy.
He does not get what he wants from her, so he feels that she is mean, and, he cannot give her what she wants from him, so he feels that she is greedy.

Dr Laing did have a gift for describing complex interrelations.

As for me and my wants and asking for what I want... Hmm. Yes, if it is something I really want, I'll ask. I'll ask, and I'll expect, well, I'll expect a response, at the very least. But I'll hope, really hard, that I get it. Because if I didn't think that person couldn't give it, I wouldn't have asked him or her.

But that is a pretty safe approach to geting what I want, I realize, so I've been practicing something else recently, too. I've been practicing asking for something even when I am pretty sure I won't get it, when I am sure the answer will be NO. Like when I asked my Dutchman if he would give me any hints on what is inside the package he shipped me. He said "no" and I expected he would and I was not bothered by the "no." I risked very little in asking. And I'm sure he enjoyed my asking, and enjoyed saying "no", knowing that he was prolonging my anticipation. And besdies, if I hadn't asked, he might have thought I wasn't interested or curious, and that is so not true.

Lately, I've noticed that I've been surprised by how often I've heard "yes" when I've asked for something that I expected to hear a "no" on. And it reinforces for me that old adage: "You don't get what you don't ask for"--and more than that, it makes me wonder how many things I would have heard "yes" to but did not because I was afraid to ask. Because I was afraid of "no." Why am I afraid of such a little word? What power in the world is an imaginary no? I am no longer a child afraid to reach for something because I don't want the humiliation of getting my hand slapped with a loud "NO" for emphasis. No, I am an adult, and my reach often surpasses my expectation of what I can grasp. Surprise!

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Blogger kujmous said...

Wanting is the root of all suffering. To ease your suffering, it is for me to provide before you know you want. For this to occur, I must know you more than you know you. Knowing you as I do, I think it is the suffering that you find most delicious and enticing. Therefore, all I can say is that I have what you want, and you must take from me until I have expired.

4:10 AM, July 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I know you from your writings, recordings and our conversations in the past. In everthing you do there is always love, compassion and a giving spirit. You are one of the few people I don't think I could refuse anything, I think pertaining to you the word "no" is not in my vocabulary. Even-though we don't know each other very well, I think of you as friend.

Friends always and forever

11:16 AM, July 09, 2007  

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