Listening Post: Holiday cravings–a cautionary tale

Tanha, the Pali word for “thirst,” is usually translated as craving or desire. According to the sutras, it (along with ignorance) is the taproot of suffering. Yay.

I’ve been having my usual annual problem advising my near and dear as to what I might like to have for Christmas. It’s not that I have transcended material desires, more that I have poor impulse control, and tend to buy what I want when I want it. When prompted for suggestions, my mind just goes blank. My wife and daughter have a more mature and restrained approach, and create nice lists to send me in email. Good thing, too. I have just as hard a time figuring out what to give to others.

Another part of my problem also gets back to poor impulse control. It’s been about two weeks since I have had a cigarette. So whenever someone asks me what I might like–well–I might like a cigarette. I’ve been chewing nicotine gum somewhat maniacally, but that really doesn’t satisfy the craving. It’s like wanting a nasty bright red hot dog full of parts and byproducts and nitrites, and being given a soy dog. You may not be hungry anymore, but you still crave a hot dog.

That’s just the way it is with cravings. Having the object of desire is unrelated to having the desire. If I had a real nasty hot dog and a disgusting cigarette, I’d just want another of each–with everything. That’s where all the holiday cookies go, too. Having stuff is a chump’s game in the end.

A more advanced spirit would probably say that my desire to quit smoking is no different than my desire to smoke. I’m just craving better impulse control. I’d like to think better of myself–and there’s just no end to going down that road. Nothing is more annoying than a reformed man.


3 Comments on “Listening Post: Holiday cravings–a cautionary tale”

  1. Good on you for facing this, and may you’re good willpower win out over the power of lust for the old habit. Kicking it is the best gift you can give yourself and those who love you.

    Happy holidays, Dale!

  2. Tim Savage says:


    You always write good stuff in your Listening Post. This may be your best one so far. Right you are – and funny, too!

    Warm Regards,

  3. @tourpro says:

    That’s one of the hardest habits to break. Good for you Dale, you can do it.

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