I’ve been thinking lately about Mick Jagger and the Book of Daniel.
There’s this riveting scene at the opulent temple of Balshsazzar on the eve of the Babylonians’ ruin (of course they don’t know it’s the eve of their ruin, at least not yet), where this disembodied finger eerily appears and writes on the wall:
Mene, Mene, Tekel, u-Pharsin (or Peres)
It’s a prophecy, couched in the language of economics. These are Aramaic terms for various units of currency. (Tekel, for example, is an alternate spelling of shekel.) Daniel gives the interpretation: it has to do with King Balshazzar, and it is not especially good news: the King’s days are over.
You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
That very night the kingdom was invaded. Balshazzar didn’t live to see the sun rise.
The part of this I’ve been thinking about is that phrase, “You have been found wanting.” Which brings us to Mick Jagger:
You can’t always get what you want.
It’s that word, want.
It seems to me, it isn’t just that you can’t always get what you want. It’s that you can’t ever get what you want. Because wanting and having are two mutually exclusive states of being.
The word “want” originally meant “to lack,” that is, to not have. And it meant this for at least a good five hundred years before anyone thought of persuading the word to mean to desire, to wish for. That’s a lot of years. This is in our phonetic DNA. Whether you are consciously aware of it or not, when you say “I want…” you are saying “I lack….”
“I want dinner…” I lack dinner.
“I want to succeed…” I lack success.
“I want to be loved…” I am not loved, nobody loves me, I must not be lovable.
You see the trap? We think we’re articulating a wish, a desire — and what we’re secretly doing is articulating our failings, the emptinesses and unfulfillments of our lives.
This is why the prayer of petition is often so self-defeating. Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz, is really just another way of saying, Lord, you won’t buy me a Mercedes Benz.
I want, I want, I want…. The perfect way to keep ourselves in poverty.
I’m so grateful for having …