The Cacti of Tantalus
A few years ago, I took a trip out West and saw a cactus growing in the wild for the first time. The more I learned about cacti, the more I became impressed with how they’d adapted to withstand one of the harshest climates on Earth. It inspired me.
Plus, the little cactus gardens they sold at the gift shop at Meteor Crater were freaking adorable. So I bought one. Touristy, sure. But I brought a piece of the desert home with me.
And it might sound silly, but I feel a deep affection for my cacti. They’re basically desk pets at this point.
Perhaps it’s because I am always on the verge of petting them because of their cuteness but never do because of their prickly spines.
This fills me with an odd sort of tender longing and affection that is never appeased.
Basically, because I can never consummate my desire to pet my cacti, emotionally I am always petting them. Like Tantalus of mythology, starving and always reaching for fruit that cringes away from him. Or Sisyphus forever pushing the rock up the hill only to have it roll the heck back down.
Crushing on the Monogamous
It’s been a rare occurrence, but every now and then, much to my chagrin, I’ll develop a crush on a person in a committed monogamous relationship.
And I’ll feel the same damn way. Become consumed by a longing that’s never quite appeased, never quite realized.
And in that state of perpetual limbo, that desire will intensify.
Or as Keats wrote in “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (thanks Brit Lit):