Alan Watts, my dead gay-crush, translated it as "thirst." In an essay entitled The World As Emptiness, he says:
Better, perhaps, is 'craving, clinging, grasping,' or even, to use our modern psychological word, 'blocking.' When, for example, somebody is blocked, and dithers and hesitates, and doesn't know what to do, he is in the strictest Buddhist sense attached, he's stuck. But a buddha can't be stuck, he cannot be phased. He always flows, just as water always flows, even if you dam it, the water just keeps on getting higher and higher and higher until it flows over the dam. It's unstoppable.
Now, really, I'm not a Buddhist. At best I'm a wannabe Buddhist. There are times when I consider the meaning of the word "clinging" and it really makes sense to me, like your mind attaches to some idea and fixates on it. For example, there's a story about two Zen monks who see a hot, rich MILF sitting by a river,
Today, however, I had a new understanding of desire. It's not that you're forbidden from wanting things. That kind of instruction will never help you because in order to stop wanting, you have to WANT to stop wanting. That's not gonna work. Rather than thinking of is as desire, I understand it as desperation. It's not wanting things that causes problems, but desperately needing something to change. If you're quiet for a minute, you can start to feel that sense of desperation flood your mind and hijack your body. For me, it feels like a little heat and burning in my chest
and genitals*. It's like I'm being drawn to something unconsciously, almost like a hallucination. Then I identify it and bring myself back to zero without desperation.
I think it'd be cool if we all did the same exercise together. Even if we're not physically together, it's cool to think that somewhere in the world, a bunch of shmucks are all trying to unravel the secrets of human experience.
For the next 30 minutes, contemplate the difference between desire and desperation. When you see desperation pop up into your experience, just identify it. There's no rush to do anything with it or freak out. Try gently bringing yourself back to baseline by releasing any desperation, any need to desperately have something or change something in you, in others, or in your environment. We're not saying we'll never change anything, we're just that for the next 30 minutes, we don't need it to change right away.
* My doctor informs me that that's something else.