The quote above is from one of my favourite authors and I think about it a lot. For myself mainly, but sometimes for family or friends. Sometimes even people I meet randomly, and wonder what choices they made to get to where they are.
Occasionally I wonder what I would do if given the opportunity to have anything I want. Then it occurs to me that I do. And I'm not going to go all hippy-bullshit on you, say that we have all we need and all we need is what we want, etc., etc.
Go with me on this however.
I wanted a new job; well-paying, challenging but not stressful (much), a slightly bigger company (but not massive) and the opportunity to do something I was interested in and passionate about.
And I got it. Seriously.
I wanted to have someone (or someones) pay attention to me, make me feel beautiful again, and love me, just a little bit, after my breakup.
And I did. Twice now, so far.
More than that, I wanted to feel alive. Like the world was on fire for me as it has been before, that everything was possible, I just had to focus and choose which path I wanted to wander down.
And I do. It's still happening now.
But (you knew that was coming), what makes me remember that quote above is this; how. And when. In the midst of all this happening, it still took me an inordinate amount of time to realise I was getting what I want - and also what I needed. Because that's the real crux of it - you can't really have just what you want, without being given what you need, otherwise your whole life implodes. But more on that in a moment.
I finally got a new job. It's amazing, challenging and slightly frustrating; which is what I wanted. I may not have said that all at once, but it's always what I wanted - because it's what I need.
The slightly baffling conversations I have with IT; reassuring and familiar. The ability to do more than I thought because my skill set is outside of the rest of the teams' abilities, and just what they were looking for; satisfying and confidence-building. Management who simultaneously understand me and are amazed by me; what I strive for.
All the things I crave to help me grow and become inspired. Not the things that I generally vocalise that I want.
Like a bolt of lightning from the heavens, suitors started popping up out of the grey to woo me with varying states of success (from truly woeful to moderately pleasing - we haven't yet reached delightful, but I remain hopeful).
I'm reasonably sure this is in part due to my foray into the intriguing world of internet dating, as well as the return of my mojo in its usual capacity (as opposed to the pitiful state it was a little while back). And I asked for attention. I prayed for a little appreciation. I fairly begged for quick wit and lusty looks.
I did not mention anything about how to find something long-lasting; I asked for the starter kit, as it were. I did not specify what nature this attention should take; I just wanted some to soothe my ego.
I certainly didn't ask to find myself in mutual attraction (read = red-hot lust) with someone who is clearly in no position to do anything about it.
But, especially in relation to the above, this is what I needed. How do I know this? Because I got what I wanted - in forms that I needed.
From the depth of my soul to the tips of my pointed little ears, I truly believe the universe is looking out for me. And you too. We just need to listen in more often and take note of the signs when they come. The universe is vast and we are minuscule, so the message can sometimes get jumbled in translation. It's fair to say the powers that be must be uber-stressed dealing with seven and a half billion people. Do you know what sort of multi-tasking that requires!?
But I digress.
This is a job I wanted - in a form I needed. Sentient beings thrive on adversity; we are driven to survive, to better our situations at every turn. And anyone who tells you that they have never had to do this is mistaken; we endeavour every day to look better, feel better, be valued in our environments by both our peers and our intimates.
Even faerie-princess-warriors like yours truly desperately seek approval from someone every day. Sometimes it's just from my own ego.
What I mean is this; there are many jobs I could have taken, many roads I could have walked. But this is the one I took, and in a few short months it has given me more of what I needed than any job I've had in years.
The traveller, as we shall call him, is not by any means a long-term prospect. We will never go on dates, never hold hands in public, never make plans to do smug-couples things.
We met briefly and crashed into each other's lives like meteorites. The connection was instant and undeniable, no matter how much we prevaricated otherwise.
While things probably should have stayed purely friendly from the word go, they got very passionate, very quickly, and have been mildly awkward since. I wish I could say it's purely because of the non-single status (theirs, not mine), but I figured out that's only part of the issue.
Now, we make small talk about shit neither of us really cares about, peppered with occasional jokes. He laughs when I get serious, I make sarcastic jibes when he gets confused. We're trying to be 'friends'...
This is not what I asked for. Didn't I ask for tall, dark, mysterious, handsome AND free? Well, no, actually, I didn't.
I asked for attention, someone to play with, someone to talk to. Someone who looks at me like I'm some sort of marvellous, and tells me so. Someone who makes me smile.
And that. Is exactly. What I got.
Before you all lose your minds and call bullshit, let me explain some other things first.
The traveller made the situation clear to me before anything happened. I wasn't blindsided; I didn't believe that this was going to turn into a secret romance, something that would end with us dashing off into the sunset.
I'm a hopeless romantic. Not an idiot.
What I did learn - very fucking quickly - was this; sometimes P. Charming is busy. Sometimes the poor fool is stuck up a tree, so in order to give you what you want, at the time that you need it, the universe sends someone else.
This person is not of the Charming lineage. Sadly, they may not even be related. Or have any similar features.
What they do have is this; their own brand of charm, some magic that reels you in like a tidal force. Be it eyes like an Summer afternoon, or a voice like a low roll of thunder. Whatever it is, it will be your siren song. But it doesn't have to be your downfall.
You learn just as much about yourself as you do about other people during these encounters. For example, I'd forgotten how intuitive I am. I forgot that I'm much more self-aware than others. And I remembered that cowardice isn't in my nature, but for some, the safety of never knowing is stronger than the desire to find adventure.
This isn't about ego (or not all about it anyway!), it's about self-esteem and self-worth; how much you give yourself and how much you let others chip away.
Don't mistake me here; the traveller hasn't taken anything I didn't want to give, but in the initial foray, I certainly let my guard down more than I would have liked.
When you let someone set all the goal posts, you also give them the power to set all the rules. Which isn't to say you shouldn't let yourself be led a merry dance occasionally - sometimes it's the best way to be surprised. It's also how things snowball out of your control.
If we all got precisely what we wanted, here is what would happen - at least to me anyway; fabulous new job, no effort, minimal movement, either physically or mentally, and an average salary aligned with average skills, neither of which ever changed or evolved.
Men and woman would fall at my feet on a regular basis. Each would offer exactly what I wanted, at literally the time I wanted it, on a constantly rotating basis. I'd miss my soulmates entirely, as the merry-go-round would never end, and I'd never put in enough effort to find out with anyone ever.
The world would never have lit up for me in the first place; my eyes would always have been at half mast, at no time looking up or down. No chance to trip and fall into something amazing, no happy accidents of catching the microcosm at the right moment.
To hell with that. Death before dull, my darlings.
In any adventure, the hero/ine takes a leap of faith and gives up something of themselves for something more worthy. Most of the time it's for the greater good, as well as for themselves, and you like to think they are the better for it, even if it seems like they are carving out a piece of their heart.
There is absolutely no way to know if you will be better off unless you try, and you need the courage of your convictions to see through such endeavours. Most people are terrified of what might happen if they could be better off, if they could gain their heart's desire, precisely because to do so, you need to change.
To further paraphrase the glorious Laurell K. Hamilton's quote from above, people always find it easier to blame someone else. That way, you can convince yourself the possibility of happiness wasn't real, avoid examining those pesky feelings of regret, and nothing has to change.
An extraordinary percentage of people believe that they've changed enough; I've moved house, I've changed jobs, I've found a new partner. I've changed.
No. You haven't. You've taken two steps forward and one step back.
You've side-swiped to the left, into a different lane, with a different view, and the same gear in a different package.
You mistake motion for growth, and get lured into vexing situations*
Without beating the point to death, I'm sure it's clear now; change is evolution, and you've all been on this rollercoaster with me before. And that brings me around to my final point...
The world is again on fire like it has been before. Everything is shiny and fresh like the dawn after rain. I wake with possibilities surging through my mind, and the desire to seek and grow is tangible.
Because I've been given what I want, just the way I need.
There's no great boom of enlightenment (well, mostly), and there's no billboard or manual that gets handed out for levelling up. It just happens and you just know.
It's a phenomenal balancing act to align all the right elements to make something like this happen. I'm not giving the fates all the credit, and I'm not ego-tripping all the way. It's synchronicity, it's serendipity, it's good fortune - the kind you make yourself.
At the end of the day - or the middle of the afternoon, as la mama says - it's about remembering to put the effort in, make the play, at least show up for the epic moment.
In the immortal words of the Rolling Stones; You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you get what you need.
And what you need is what you really wanted all along.
*Shampoo Planet, by Douglas Coupland