I Will Say I Want It All

If you had walked by my house at 9:15 this morning, you would have heard the music, a muffled blast from inside the rolled-up windows of our beat-up old Camry. You’d have spotted me sitting the driver’s seat, keys dangling from the ignition, unbuckled, eyes closed, palms drumming the steering wheel.

This song, this oldie but goodie, seems to be following me around these days. It’s Greg’s theme song, really, his mantra in times of self-reflection. But clearly the Universe wants me to sing along, too, to sing my heart out. You can’t always get what you want.

If you ask me what do I want, I will say that I want it all. It’s what I’ve always said: through tears, mischief, and laughter, optimistically and in moments of doubt and anguish. And of course I’ve asked the question, over and over: What does “wanting it all” mean, when I have everything I could possibly need?


If you ask how much do I want,
I’ll tell you that I want it all.
This morning, you and I
and all men
are flowing into the marvelous stream
of oneness.

Small pieces of imagination as we are,
we have come a long way to find ourselves
and for ourselves, in the dark, the illusion of emancipation.

This morning, my brother is back from his long adventure.
He kneels before the altar,
his eyes full of tears.
His soul is longing for a shore to set anchor at
(a yearning I once had).
Let him kneel there and weep.
Let him cry his heart out.
Let him have his refuge there for a thousand years,
enough to dry all his tears.

One night, I will come
and set fire to his shelter, the small cottage on the hill.
My fire will destroy everything
and remove his only life raft after a shipwreck.

In the utmost anguish of his soul,
the shell will break.
The light of the burning hut will witness
his glorious deliverance.
I will wait for him
beside the burning cottage.
Tears will run down my cheeks.
I will be there to contemplate his new being.
And as I hold his hands in mine
and ask him how much he wants,
he will smile and say that he wants it all – just as I did.

From Call Me By My True Names, by Thich Nhat Hanh

4 thoughts on “I Will Say I Want It All

  1. Lisa says:

    Very thought-provoking. I’m right in the midst of my adventure, longing for my one shelter…yet knowing in my heart that it too will have to burned down.

    What a scary – yet Vitalizing – place to be.

    Sing out loud — I LOVE those few minutes in the car during a favorite song!! :)


  2. Karen Pery says:

    I was going to say something all witty and clever and insightful because just last night in a workshop, I stated that it’s not about ordering everything off of the menu (of life), it’s about choosing exactly and precisely what you want and having more of that (in life). Then I read the poem and got all humbled.




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