Longing is the thirst that never quite feels quenched. It is the salivating for and anticipation of satisfaction and completeness. Longing urges us toward something. It is energy. You can feel it, we all feel it. If we pay attention we can hear its name.
This is what the great love stories are made of. Be it the romantics, or the heroes journey to discover him/herself; the mystic reaching for heaven, the philosopher searching for meaning; the athlete striving for greatness, the discontented aching for vibrancy.
We are lovers. We yearn. We want more. More connection, more purpose. We yearn for union and communion and are pulled toward something beyond ourselves. Perhaps this is why when we long it feels like something crawling inside us, pulling us out and in and in and out, forever in motion. Longing reaches beyond the borders we call the self.
Humanity is made to feel deeply in love with this life. I believe that we are oriented towards that which calls us higher and deeper into the fullness of living. I often think that our longing is what invites us to look where we might feel inspired, a lack, discontent, a dream not yet realized.
Our longing is the fruit of a life lived. We cannot long for something we have not once encountered, in some way or another, before. Longing reminds us that we have let life leave its mark on us. Longing reminds us that we have let life in, we’ve let love in, we’ve let loss in.
As I write this there is an expanse within myself that I feel edging towards my own consciousness. It is a deep ache. I know its presence like a familiar scent reminding me of the lives I have lived and places and people I have let live in me. Longing is the whisper of eternal echoes that continue on even when life feels it has become bleak, stale. I cannot escape it, even though sometimes I wish I could. Because to know the presence of longing we must know the felt absence of something.
I used to wish it away. Then I began to realize, this is the gift of living a wholehearted life. Longing is the gift towards ever evolving love, healing, stories and connection with the very fabric of what life is; of what it is to be human.
I don’t have much advice here to give, on what to “do” with one’s longing. I have asked myself a million times, “What do I do with this? Where do I put this” I think I am still trying to figure that out myself. Perhaps sometimes there isn’t much to do with it. Perhaps that is a product of our utilitarian culture. Perhaps it is more about a welcoming of it. A naming of it. An acceptance of it.
I do know though that longing feels directional. It carries an energy with it. It is movement within us and it often feels the need to be directed somewhere. When I feel the force of it building in my body, I know that my body quite literally needs to move. It needs to run, dance or hold a posture. When I feel it, I need to let my heart speak to Divine Light and let it reach the ears of another. When I sense its lingering, I need to be exceedingly gentle with myself. Through some form of raw meditation and prayer, I need to let it break me open.
When I wake to her day after day, it is curiosity that helps me listen for what she is saying. I have chosen to listen (sometimes attentively, sometimes not) for how the longing in me invites me to tend to her fire. I open to the subtle gestures ushering me to keep the warmth of her presence without being consumed by her flame.
Longing will likely always be part of the life that yields to the complexity of the cosmos. But I am a lover. All of us are. And to be a lover means to be accompanied by the pulse of the Great Longing.
A Poem by Danielle Doby
Some days there is a pull
for something more
of a distant vision
that is just fingertip
out of reach
it’s as if my soul knows
I can no longer be held
by the earth I stand on
my feet grown too large
unable to feel
the warmth of the sun
I find myself moving
and what could be
what is known
and what is becoming
though it offers movement
swaying in the center
does not bring
so I must go
I must move forward
I must open
these palms wide
to a life that has yet
to be awakened.
3 thoughts on “Longing”
This is so beautiful and full of deep meaning. The poem is lovely, fitting.
I honestly have never heard longing, so eloquently explained, I feel it, but could never explain or understand it.
This is so helpful, it strips away its mystery.