I look at her, trying to gauge the intent of the question. Seeing my confusion, she holds her notes up for me to see. “Right there, question fourteen; ‘What does Jed want?'”

It’s still not clear to me what she means, but the answer is probably the same no matter how the question is interpreted. “I don’t want anything. I don’t want.”

Her eyes go wide. “I knew you were gonna say that! I’ve been thinking about it for days and I just can’t put it together. How can you not want anything? What does that even mean? What is life without desires? Goals? Dreams? Don’t you have aspirations? Isn’t there something you’d like to achieve or some quality you’d like to possess? It seems like life is all about expanding and attaining, moving toward the next thing. Ambition, growth, conquest. You can’t mean that you… I’m not even sure how to say it… you don’t want anything? You have to want something.”

I’m amused by her perplexity. “Well, I might want a cup of coffee or some new video game or something, but there’s nothing in any larger sense that I want.”

“World peace?” she tries. “The liberation of all sentient beings? Fame and fortune? Power? Prestige? Wealth? Adulation? Uh, your own island? Six-pack abs? Compose a symphony? Dinner with the Buddha? There must be something… something that drives you, something you… you know, want.”

I answer through my laughter. “Sorry to be so bland, but no, nothing. Well, maybe the abs. I don’t have to wish for possessions because I have a pretty good idea of how the universe works and my wishes are fulfilled practically before I know I wished them. World peace and the liberation of sentient beings would indicate a belief on my part that something was wrong or that something needs fixing, and I’m not capable of any such belief. I’m certainly not a bodhisattva or a satguru, as I understand those terms. The other things you mentioned are just… uh, outer adornments. They would have no meaning to anyone in my, uh, situation.” – Jed McKenna, Spiritual Enlightenment, The Damnedest Thing