Who Was Ever Satisfied?

Who was ever satisfied, after attainment, with that which loomed up large as he prayed for it? — Seneca, Epistles.

Getting what we desire seldom produces the satisfaction we imagined. We want more. It is as if our appetite is never filled. After my surgery I was always thirsty. I was inhaling fluids only to discover that the more I drank the thirstier I became. It turned out the only way for me to stop being thirsty and lose the ten pounds of water I had accumulated, was to stop drinking water as opposed to continuing to quench my thirst.

Stoics explain this phenomena by saying we have two appetites. One being those which are natural such as hunger which can be temporarily satisfied, and artificial appetites such as social status or things we don’t need. Artificial appetites are seldom satisfied, and our appetite increases for more and more. There is never enough.

As we grow older we realize we have accumulated way too much stuff, but for many the attachment is hard to let loose. Perhaps, the Rolling Stones said it best in two song lyrics: I can’t get no satisfaction and You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

Are your desires natural or artificial?


About the author

Webb Hubbell is the former Associate Attorney General of The United States. His novels, When Men Betray, Ginger Snaps, A Game of Inches, The Eighteenth Green, and The East End are published by Beaufort Books and are available online or at your local bookstore. When Men Betray won one of the IndieFab awards for best novel in 2014. Ginger Snaps and The Eighteenth Green won the IPPY Awards Gold Medal for best suspense/thriller. His latest, “Light of Day” will be on the bookstands soon.

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