Despair and Desire

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  • Post category:Poetry

Of late, I’ve noticed despair and desire arising and sometimes becoming a distraction and a focus of my meditation for several days. I, at times, intentionally try, and impossibly fail, to avoid feelings of despair and feelings of desire. Despair often creates hopeless sadness. Desire becomes an obsessive urge, often harmful, to change the way that I feel or to escape the way that I feel. And yet, like so many things I notice, despair and desire are inextricably connected.

Accepting their connection makes them useful in my life. Meditation and mindfulness practiced throughout my days, deepens my appreciation for these seeming oppositional/conflicting, yet potentially synergistic emotions. My understanding of how despair and desire connect in my life, as many things do, emerged recently as I sat with uneasy feelings and began to write about them.

Writing is something that I began doing in my first shaky sober days and is now a daily practice that is a refuge where uncertainty, doubt, regret, guilt, shame, hopelessness, hope, clarity, confidence, trust, and resolve dance, teaching me things about myself that previously had been difficult to see. These sets of verses emerged one by one over six consecutive days. The idea that emerged is that I can hold and experience despair and desire at the same moment and that both can be useful to me as I live my life.

Despair and Desire


To know despair
Is to have known desire
The yin and the yang
Of the human heart


Despair and desire
Like eddies in a stream
Throughout my life and times
Connecting past and present


Despair’s chains bind me
Within the dark abyss
The wings of desire
Carry me towards the sun


Despair it did break my heart
Until it shrank and shut its door tight
Desire opened the door of my heart
Just a crack before it grew and was flung open wide


Despair and desire
Two sides of the same coin
Flipping and twirling in the air
As I anxiously await the answer


I hold despair and desire
Gently cupped in my hands
To nourish each equally
With love and compassion

About the Author

Robert B. is a sober alcoholic in Madison, WI participating in AA and AlAnon at Fitchburg Serenity Club. He has been sober since April 21, 2007. He also began writing and sharing poetry on Facebook during his first year sober as part of his recovery from alcohol dependency, acute anxiety, and chronic depression. He has found that creativity expressed primarily through writing poetry and playing various stringed instruments helped him heal and thrive.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Michael Smith

    Another “d” world that comes to mind and really dominates my consciousness is disbelief. I shudder to accept so many
    Of the events and reactions to events (or lack of reaction !)
    My tradition teaches me “life as it is, my only teacher” is a constant opportunity to learn and grow. And so often “desire” for the world to be otherwise shuts this opening of opportunity.
    Thank you, Robert, for sharing your practice. It helps me have perspective and feel support. 🙏

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