Barry Smith: Wanting to be free of want |

Barry Smith: Wanting to be free of want

I saw in some Buddha movie that the key to happiness is to free yourself from want. I decided to try that last weekend and it was not pleasant.

It was easy enough at first ? I just walked around saying, “I don’t want anything” and giving a dismissive wave of my hand. But as the day wore on I found myself wanting some cheese doodles. This gave way to me wanting a new car, more money, a bigger house, to quit my job, and on and on. Then I realized that I actually WANTED to free myself from want! Huh? How do you sneak around this one?


Wanting Help


There are loopholes in the Universal Order, of course. The thing is, the Universe is listening to you, but it’s only sorta half listening, like when you’re talking to someone who’s reading the newspaper. This is not to say that you’re not Eternally Loved, it’s just that the Universe is quite busy, and your desire for cheese doodles is lower down on the Universal To Do List than, say, keeping the planets in orbit.

With that in mind, let’s go back to the newspaper analogy. If you want to borrow the car of the person reading the paper, you would couch this request in with some small talk. Like this: Nice day, huh? May rain later, though. Can I use your car? Hey, this salsa is good.

The trick is to not change your inflection or tone, forcing the person whose car you crave to mutter an offhanded, but still legally binding, “Uh huh.”

Try this next weekend. Continue with the dismissive wave thing while announcing to the Universe that you want nothing. Then somewhere in there, right when the Universe thinks it knows your rap, ask for those cheese doodles. I think you’ll be surprised at the results.

Dear Bad Guru,

Why is it that I insist on telling others what they should be doing to improve their lives, yet I can’t seem to get my own shit together? Why am I so quick to judge? Why can’t I just mind my own business?


Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Do Do,

Mark Twain once said, “Nothing is so in need of refining as other people’s habits.” At first this seems like quite an insightful bit of pith, until you consider that Twain used the N-word a lot.

When the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to your door, do you invite them in to chat or slam the door in their faces? They just want to help, you know. They, like you, truly believe that they know a better way, and it’s because of their love and devotion to humankind that they’ve come to tell you the News, just as you tell others your version of the News. The only real difference between the two of you is that they have pamphlets.

Bad Guru thinks you should just keep doing what you’re doing: think your thoughts, believe your beliefs, and point your stubby little finger at others. It’s not like you’re going to stand out or anything.

Just don’t go a-pounding on Bad Guru’s door with any of this News, because he’s busy watching Animal Planet.

Dear Bad Guru,

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Big John

Dear John,

Wow! It does work! So much for my vow of celibacy.

(Look for Bad Guru’s new book, out this spring: “GuRules ? Things You Still Haven’t Learned”)

[Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is, and his very own Web page is at]

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