There is a lot to examine and our different aspects are pulling us in different directions. What is salient to my biological self may be just static to myself the American or myself the traveler or myself the atheist. Which signs are brightest, loudest, most beautiful, most threatening are not just a matter of how bright or loud or beautiful or threatening they are. It is also an indication of what WE are and what we are looking for, what I am and what I am looking for. We see what we see because we are what we are. So, maybe catharsis can be achieved by seeing something else, or by not seeing, or by listening when we normally look, or by caring when we would normally be oblivious.
Our self, whichever we are being at the time, already knows what it wants to experience. It is only a matter of sorting through the “static” that is the majority of our lives. But what a tragedy to view our lives and the majority of life and existence as mere static to be filtered out.
We cannot be grateful for our lives unless it has brought us that which we are looking for and wanting or unless we gain the ability to change that which we are wanting and looking for.
The Christian solution is the empty promise that we will find what we were looking for and experience what we were wanting if only we live a good life and die in good standing with a supposed God.
The Buddhist solution is to expend tremendous time and effort trying to nullify our wanting and reflexive searching by various philosophical, psychological, emotional, and even physical contortionism. The warrant to that approach would seem to be that if we are incapable of being unhappy, angry, sad, lonely, hungry, tired, etc., then we will default to something more desirable.
The ascetic and the hedonist are two sides of the same coin. One seeks to build a tolerance to our lacking, an endurance of our suffering, an embrasure, acceptance, contentment with the negative experiences. The other seeks to fill his or her life with the positive.
But did no one think to wonder why we want what we want? Whether or not we should want it? How we should feel for getting it or not? Or that maybe it is not the acquisition, but the pursuit that fulfills us? Because it is not the having so much as the getting that declares who and what we are, not the knowing, but the learning, not the owning, but the earning, not the arrival and existence in paradise, but the struggle to prove that we are worthy of such a place.
What we are wanting and which pursuit will make us content at any given time has everything to do with which person we are being, with which mask we are currently wearing. Learning to recognize which of our many selves we are being, which of our multitude modes of operation we are currently in is crucial to knowing what and how to pursue. And that will determine our success at finding and attaining what what want.