I’ve been avoiding this word for about a month. I wrote it down in my writing journal, underlined it to come back to, and then promptly forgot about it. I’ve had every intention of returning to it, looking it up and exploring it further. For some reason, I’ve been procrastinating. A nudge to follow through and investigate came from my poetry board. My friend Paola used to work at a frame shop, and she made up a metal 2’ by 2’ board for me. It’s the perfect home for my magnetic refrigerator poetry sets. I haven’t decided where its permanent place in my temporary loft should be, so it leans against the wall in my living room space. Last week, the word “want” fell off of the board onto the floor as I was dusting it. There are over 500 words on this board. Ok, ok, “Uncle.”

The word “want” in Joseph T. Shipley’s Dictionary of Word Origins says “See win.” The first “win” meant merely to struggle (from the Anglo-Saxon winnan, or to strive after), but since stories are told by, or about, the winner, “win” came to mean to struggle successfully. Going further back in time is a common Teutonic word, wan, which means to desire. Another source of the word “want” came from the Icelandic language, offering up vant, meaning to lack and therefore need. Sanskrit gives us the word van, which is to ask. And Latin later provided us with venus and veneris, also referring to desire.

As I reshape my life, I find all of the above swirling around in my experience:  struggle, success, need, ask and desire. Acknowledging the complexity and depth of “want” melts away any judgment I was feeling toward myself. This is no easy task. However, I can humbly ask for spiritual guidance. Why not refer to the Handbook (i.e., my spirituality) and to the best of my ability “read” the instructions first, keeping in mind what I truly want? And that would be love, joy, meaning, purpose, creativity, health, time, gratitude... (And, Oh yeah, a good cup of coffee in the afternoon, a mini-vacation in a cup).   

I choose to be patient, but intentional, as I endeavor to understand what I want for my life, and to have the courage to take action towards those desires.