On Cravings and Choice

by lizhuston

Last weekend I went out to dinner to a fabulous new Mexican restaurant near a friend’s house, and all I wanted was machaca tacos. So much so that I could almost taste the spices in my mind. Which was weird, because I’ve been vegetarian for many years and vegan for the last year and a half. Don’t worry – this isn’t about pushing my dietary choices on you, the backstory is important because this craving was really strange! Was my body in need of iron? Why suddenly the intense need for red meat? I labored over my choice. Investigated my desires. Took a deep breath and defiantly thought, “I deserve to have what I want. If I want meat, I’m going to order meat!” When faced with the option by the waiter, however, I couldn’t actually bring myself to order meat. Much as I craved the taste, I don’t actually want to eat meat. Feeling defeated on one level, I ordered the vegan-friendly veggie fajita (which was delicious, btw) and called it a day.

Tonight I felt fed up with the usual restaurants near my studio shoppe, and set out on an adventure looking for new place to eat. Eventually, I stumbled upon a tiny little Mexican joint which was new to me. Something told me to check them out…turns out they had Beyond meat on the menu, which was quite the delightful surprise! I have not had a beyond taco yet, but the burgers are good, so this had to be good! I couldn’t decide between the vegan nachos and the vegan taco, but went with the beyond taco. Wouldn’t you know it, but it tasted exactly like machaca! I think I actually squealed in joy with my first bite. Full disclaimer: I will say that it’s been so long I may not remember what machaca actually tastes like, but this was cooked in very similar spices and my week-long craving was completely satiated!

Walking back to work, I thought about desires, wants and satiation. I really wanted that machaca last weekend. Like, really wanted it – but didn’t indulge because it went against my own preferences. In making the choice not to have it, I also let the desire go. I even completely forgot about it, to tell you the truth – only to have it suddenly come to me in a way that was in complete alignment with my values. (and the taco was only four bucks to boot!)

My point is, we all have things we want… maybe even desperately want. The craving is strong, and sometimes it’s so strong that we make choices which go against the grain of who we are just so we can scratch some itch. But what is the payoff there? Temporary relief, sure, but at what price?

There are things I really desire right now, but for various reasons, am not actually aligned with, and therefore are not part of my life experience. Truth be told, I’ve wasted far too much time lamenting these lacks. Today, though, my silly, delicious, not-machacha taco reminded me of something really valuable. It is vitally important to let go of what is not working, let go of what is not in alignment, let go of who or what is not choosing you – in order to receive what is truly nourishing. It’s almost as if once you let go of a non-productive desire, the subconscious can go about solving that particular riddle, and scratch the itch in a way which is deeply satisfying.

I know what you’re thinking. There is nothing more infuriating than the instruction to “let go”. We don’t know how to let go. We are not well versed in accepting the way things are, and we don’t know how to say goodbye, for that matter. But it is something we truly must learn to do if we are to have what we really want, and have what will be satisfying on multiple levels.

So, with faith and conviction…let go.