Dangerous Compassions

what motivates me

I made a list of questions to ask my friend.  A main one is–what do you most want; what’s motivating you.  So I asked myself this question.

I decided I most want pleasure and meaning.  I mostly get pleasure from touch and connection, and I get meaning from helping people, having a helpful vision I’m working toward. 

I asked Ming what’s motivating him.  He couldn’t tell me–it was too early.  He’d just stumbled out of bed.

“I think you’re motivated by responsibility.  And fun, desire for fun,” I ventured.

He told me he thought that was not true, about responsibility.

“Yeah, you take care of me like crazy!  You’re always there for me, making sure I’m ok.  You never waver in that.  You’re super-responsible!” I said.

He said he didn’t want to be remembered for being responsible.  That he’s only super-responsible to me.

“Hmm, I’m special,” I said.  I decided maybe he’s all motivated by fun.  And he has to be responsible to me so he can keep being my family member and keep having fun with me.

“You’re a hedonist!”  I said.  “You’re like me–just hedonism, tempered by a desire to help people, which keeps it from turning Bacchanalian.  No wonder we like each other so much!  We’re the same!”

He wasn’t so sure.  He won’t commit.  “It’s still 4 in the morning, for me,” he said.

I told him that even if I’m wrong, it’s cool I could use Bacchanalian in a sentence.

Ming said I’m motivated by love.  I said yeah, the pleasure and meaning I want is all love-related.  But that’s more vague.

I can tell Ming’s not a man because the men I’ve known were all motivated by work, money, wanting to be a good provider, getting their life meaning by being good at “what they do.”

Or maybe he’s just an anarchist.  His appetite for pleasure seems endless, but not grabby, and he’s totally without worry that he’s spending his time the wrong way.  Yeah, he really wants pleasure, but not so badly that it makes him stupid or hurtful.  Sounds perfect.

What motivates you?  What do you most want? 

I used to be motivated by fear, a desire for safety.  Then I learned I was wrong about what safety is.  The more I can change, the safer I am, actually.  Fear has its place, but I want an energy that’s reaching out.

When I hide a lot, it’s not about fear–it’s a desire to conserve my resources so I can do more of what I want, more connecting. 

Well, I guess there’s a third thing I really want, which is self-preservation, so I can keep doing what I want.  I hide out to preserve myself.

Maybe there’s something about authenticity also–I need a lot of honesty so the connecting is real.

I need to go back to bed.  I keep telling my therapist, every time I see her, “Things are changing.”  Sleep, moods, feelings, relationships, tactics, ideas, seasons, plans, resources, perspectives. 

But the motivations are staying the same.  Maybe those are based on deeper values.

The other day I wrote something that said I’m not really strange, if someone actually talks to me and gets to know me.  Ming and I had a conversation about whether that’s true. 

He said no, I am strange.  I told him the things I want are totally normal–it’s not like I want to make elaborate sculptures out of golf tees every day.  I want for people to be safe from a bomb getting dropped on them, and for people to get the nurturing that we all need.  Those are totally normal desires.

So that’s nice, a way I’m not bizarre.  He said I want normal things but can have incomprehensible ways of trying to get them.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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