I began to realize it when Maude and I lived together after college.
We'd known each other since we were born, you know? Well, since I was born. She was born six weeks before me. We were practically siblings. Except that we'd grown up in different families. And much of the time in different countries, actually.
But we had, and still have, the kind of rapport, the kind of closeness, that is often limited to family. The close-as-skin closeness. The you can say anything, and do, and even if they temporarily hate you, they will always love you kind of closeness.
So you get used to knowing close people the way they are. And then you have a sudden epiphany.
"Don't you ever want anything?"
She never wanted. When given a choice between A or B, she could never choose. When asked if she'd prefer something else, well, no, it wasn't that she'd rather something else entirely. She just couldn't make a choice.
"But what do you want?"
She didn't want.
She said I was the first person to point this out. "You never want. How can you never want? Just want something!"
What I didn't realize, what took me years to realize, was that I had plenty of the not wanting as well. It's just easier to see in someone else.
Because, you see, if you don't want, you can't be disappointed. You learn this. If I want and I can't have, it will leave a hole for ache to stretch out in. But if I don't want, it will be OK. I can't get hurt if I don't wish. I can't feel like I'm missing out on something I never hoped to have.
And eventually you stop wanting. You stop preferring X over Y. Either would be fine. If you can't have one over the other, you don't care. In fact, if you wind up with neither, that's fine too. Because you didn't want in the first place.
It's not a charade; it's not martyrdom. You can actually learn to turn off the wanting. And pressed for a choice, you truly don't know what to pick. You don't feel it. In fact, there are a lot of things you don't feel.
Not wanting is not difficult. The hard part is when you turn it back on.
Wanting sets you up for not getting. Wanting is risk. Wanting? Wanting is scary.