‘I can’t get no…satisfaction.’
How true. I have been pondering whether we are destined to go through life in a state of vague dissatisfaction. As my partner said when I expressed this to him, it’s a thought that Alain de Botton would be proud of. If any of you have read his work, de Botton does seem to have a strange affection for the melancholy and bleak, seeing an acceptance of the less glamorous aspects of life as a necessary part of achieving happiness. To paraphrase him dreadfully, if we expect life to be the gold-plated, celebrity perfect version, then we are bound to be disappointed. Accept that it will be more ordinary, and there is less to get annoyed about.
It’s a viewpoint which I suspect fits quite well with Buddhist theology as well, although I’m certainly no expert. However, I do know enough to say that part of the practice of Buddhism seems to be letting go of the ever grasping, materialistic and sensory ego, which drives us all the time, and feeds our dissatisfaction with the world.
The dissatisfaction I’m talking about though isn’t one which is concerned with money, or status, pretty things or pretty people. It’s about having a strange inner need to do certain things, that I fancy doing just because I want to. There is always a nagging dissatisfaction that I can’t get to them fast enough, complete them as well as I would like, or do them as well as others I admire. I suspect that I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew! I seem to manage to gulp most of it down though, somehow.
My dissatisfaction is in fact probably the thing which drives me to keep producing creative work, whether it’s writing, painting, design work or whatever other thing I decide to try my hand at. I’m sorry to say that lack of any previous experience doesn’t seem to actually deter me from trying anything: I’m currently up to my ears in bits of shredded magazine, as I’m working on some collages. Never done it before? Never mind. It can’t be that hard! After all, if it’s only for my own satisfaction, then if I stuff it up, then that’s OK, I figure. I’ll learn every time, and maybe those mistakes will fuel sufficient dissatisfaction with the result that I’ll be spurred to on to something better.
A strange cycle of creativity perhaps, but perhaps dissatisfaction isn’t an entirely negative emotion after all.