I’m sitting here in a perfectly nice apartment. I’m healthy, rested, satiated, awash in winter light. And yet I’m plagued by disquiet. What is it? Something in my thoughts; I’m somewhere else.

I’m thinking about an ex-girlfriend, for instance. I think of her twinkling eyes and warm embrace. I wonder how she’s doing. I think of the times we spent feeling so good with each other, and I can feel myself miss those feelings. I wonder if she’s being loved, if she’s happy, if she thinks of me. I think about my heart and can feel a hunger in it. I’m missing. Missing is wanting.

Let’s say hours pass – I connect myself to other people, busy myself with other tasks. Suddenly I am not thinking of the ex. My heart feels well enough in order, able to even beat for someone else. If a broken heart is a real affliction (and I surely won’t deny it), I can’t say for sure that I suffer from it, if I can successfully distract myself for long stretches. Surely it is this specific thought of the past that causes me pain. It is brain activity: nostalgia, a meditation on the past. It has the power to drive me crazy, and like I fire, I feed it.

I stop.

Now I’m thinking of something else, or someone – another girl, let’s say. She’s a girl I’ve met, or perhaps intend to meet. Can we call her the girl of my dreams? Whatever the case, I picture her at the end of a tunnel, like light. I make her out to be my future and I paint her with my favorite characteristics (perhaps including unavailability). I am in pain again because I crave everything I’ve made her out to be – some panacea to whatever discomfort I’m experiencing (in my root chakra and elsewhere). All I think about is how she’s not texting me. I’m missing something again, wanting.

I’m not here. I’m not now. I’m anywhere else.

This is what hurts, maybe. It’s the flooding in of the past and the craving for an uncertain future. Or? When I take a deep breath, it all goes away. When I let go of the thoughts, I am free. I let in other thoughts, of which there are plenty.

We talk so much about “being in the moment,” about “letting go” of these other things. And yes, “happiness” is there. But might there be a benefit to meditations on the past and present, even if painful? Maybe pain is a good thing…

Let’s talk for a moment about donuts.

Donuts are round, spherical shapes with a hole in their center. But is it really a hole? They are designed like this: dough is rolled out, elongated and then attached at the ends. If anything, the donut is a beautiful shape that implies a completed circle, two ends meeting to become one whole thing.

And then there are donut holes. These are spherical balls of dough, their name implying that donuts are made like disks, that this ball is then removed from it.

When I let go of the past, stop worrying about the future, tune out the external pressures of the world around me, I am a donut. My life completes itself. I am the dough of a good upbringing, the sweetness of loving friends and family, the shape of my personal identity and the glaze of my interests.

Sure, there are these other big things that we tend to define ourselves by: a relationship, a career, a home. But maybe these are donut holes. They are good, but they are not how I define myself.

And yet, if I’m being honest, I want these things. I want that sphere in me, as part of my shape, to be stuffed, to surround it with my being. I want to be the more expensive donut: full, without holes, creme-filled even. (I’m fine with any innuendos inadvertently made by this analogy.) I want it all. And I look around at the other donuts in envy.

Want is a feeling I’m very familiar with. I identify it. And I wonder how it serves me. Should I let it go, or accept it as natural? This I do not know. But I know that I want, and that when I have, I am happy, and that when I don’t have, I am not.

I sit here, typing. I want a glass of water and I get it. I do not talk myself out of wanting the water. With food, perhaps I delay it. With companionship, I engage in a more complex conversation: Do I feel like talking out loud? DO I feel like drinking? What about company will bring me joy? Am I bored and just need stimulation? Can I not provide that stimulation on my own?

The conversations in my head grow even longer, deeper with each ascension on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And I wonder if these things – these donut holes – bring me any closer to the top, to self-actualization. Sometimes, in these moments of meditation, I feel “actualized.” I feel a profound knowledge of myself, and I wonder if this is enough. Or if it’s never enough. I keep wanting, missing.