You Don’t Always Get What You Want


I have been meditating on the teachings of those yogis, the Rolling Stones. You don’t always get what you want, but if you try– sometimes– you get what you need. So true.

What is it really that I want, and what is it that I need? The difference can be so minute that it can be hard to tell. The thing is, you can tell if you needed it or just wanted it when you don’t get it.

I have noticed a tendency among yogis to greet any personal struggles or tales of not getting what we want or need with some variation of the consolation “what’s meant to be will be”. Which I don’t think is true. There are many things in the world that are not meant to be—so many that I don’t have to list them. We do not live in the best of all possible worlds. There is great and meaningless suffering and many people are victims of cruelty that I cannot imagine, and I do not agree that it is meant to be.

There is truth in this phrase, but it is not the whole truth.

Sometimes we want things that we don’t need. When we are disappointed in these cases, perhaps it is meant to be. But there’s more to it than that. There’s powerful learning in this disappointment. It’s an opportunity to understand ourselves and our choices more fully. To examine our motivation. Brushing this off cuts off this avenue of exploration.

Our struggles, pain, and disappointment make us stronger so in that sense they are meant to be. As Earnest Hemmingway said: the world breaks everyone and afterwards some are strong at the broken places. A committed yoga practice allows us to be strong where we used to be broken. And to get what we need.

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