“The best antidote I have found is to yearn for something. As long as you yearn, you can’t congeal; there is a forward motion about yearning.” ~ Gail Godwin …
Somewhere along the path of graduating into adulthood, many of us have picked up the idea that happiness lies in our ability to accept our lives as they are, even if that means giving up our wants and desires. But our happiness is not tied to our desires–we do not feel discontent and unhappy because we want something, as desire is part of our humanity. We are creatures who desire, often with intense passion; and when we can use that desire as a catalyst for growth and positive change, then that yearning for something realistic and positive is an amazing and beautiful thing.
But therein lies the rub. All too often, we are narrowly focused on yearning for materialistic things that are not necessarily positive or helpful for our personal growth. And so we have to recognize that the yearning that Gail is talking about here is not for things harmful, unhealthy, unrealistic, or distracting things, such as yearning for that expensive new car or an intimate relationship with a married friend of ours–for such desires are harmful to us and those we love. Instead, she is talking about a fire within us to live with great purpose. Such a healthy yearning can be a catalyst to propel us into new and exciting things, greater challenges and opportunities, and more positive states of being. A desire to spend time on the beaches of St. Lucia might cause us to economize and simplify our lives so that we might be able to afford the trip. And wanting a career change might help us to find the motivation to go back to school to get a degree or further degrees.
To have passion is a wonderful thing. It drives us forth on the journeys of life and carries us through even the darkest of days–the ones when we feel like giving up and do not know if we can continue any further. And if we feel like our lives are becoming stagnant, yearning can push us in a “forward motion,” as opposed to congealing or staying where we are. All that is necessary is finding positive and healthy things to yearn for–things like a caring and nourishing relationship or a home filled with love. Or perhaps something that adds depth such as a job that is rewarding and adds purpose to our lives, or an education for our children or for ourselves. Or maybe something that makes our lives less stressful like a vehicle that is safe, practical, and reliable, or an active way of living that allows us to reach a healthy physical state. There are countless things that we can desire that might benefit our lives and the lives of those around us if we would only do so with an open heart and mind.
Find something positive to yearn for in your life.
Questions to consider:
What kinds of things do you tend to yearn for? Do these things tend to be positive for you, or do they add to stress and tension in your life?
What kinds of things might you change in your life to make the things that you yearn for actually become reality?
Why do so many people yearn after things that are ultimately bad for them?
For further thought:
“And yes, there definitely are many good desires. For example, without the desire for food we would not stay alive. It is when our desire becomes an unquenchable craving or obsession, or causes us to do harm to ourselves or others, that it creates suffering and unhappiness. If you have ever been hurt because you tied your happiness or well-being to a person, place, opinion, self-identity, behavior, or goal, then you have firsthand experience of desire.” ~ Donald Altman