"Yeah. I guess. If you put it that way," I agreed. "I'm not writing novels not to see them published. Fourteen of them to be exact—spanning over half my life! I'm not raising kids—two of them—a girl, twelve, and a boy, eight—pouring my entire heart into every fiber of their beings not to make sure they're healthy and happy and have the right size shoes and find a life that they love. I'm not married—to the same man, whom I've adored since my senior year in college—to live in loneliness. And I can't control any of those results. But I want them to be good ones. I'd be lying if I told you I didn't believe those positive results would make me happy."
"That's insanity," she said. "Just so you know."
"Fine. It might be insanity. But it's human nature to want. I can't deny myself my human nature. It's impossible."
"Really," she said, and she did that lift-of-the-eyebrow thing she does.
I know to pay attention when she does that. That there's more coming and it's gonna be good.
"There's a big difference between wanting and creating," she said. "Do you want to stop feeling anxious and depressed and scared and angry?"
"Of course. That's why I'm here in this office. But I'm not allowed to want, remember?"
"Fair enough. Do you believe you can create a life in which you are happy?"
"Absolutely. But doesn't it take two to tango?"
"Does it?" she said, her eyebrow raising. Then she saw my pain and filled it in for me. I love her for this quality. "It's when you stop wanting things outside of your control that you'll be happy."
Easy for her to say. Sitting there on her mauve couch with her manicure and her neat scarf and her presumably more- miserablethan-she clientele.
How can a person not want? You are born—you want to live. You get married—you want to build a life with your spouse. You have kids—you want them to live even though it seems at first like they're doing their best to try to off themselves—and later, you want them to be happy, and you want them to live even longer—long enough to provide you grandchildren. And you want them to live, too. In fact, you worry about them not living before they're even born. Because what would that do to your child, outliving their child? You want everybody to live, and you want to live until you are one hundred, still driving, mind intact, cheekbones and legs still not too bad, and then you want to die in your sleep. You want to be Katharine Hepburn. And in the meantime, you want a calling. You want to work hard at that calling—you want talent and you want success. How is it possible to live in this human body in this human world and not want?
Easy, too, for my fabulously famous, spiritually evolved novelist friend to say when I asked him in a letter: How do you spend your life writing without wanting to be published?
He responded with a phone call; that's when I know it's important news and that I should widen my third eye. "The only difference between being published and not being published," he said, "is being published."