The Barbara Brennan School of Healing, Class of 1999, spoke these words - out loud and to each other - during our final, sacred ceremony. It was the evening before graduation, and we came together in joy and remembrance and deep gratitude for the journey we had completed and the one we were just beginning. These lovely words penetrated and awakened my very soul that day, and whenever I read or recall them I feel their incredible sweetness. To me they speak of longing.
Most days, we don’t think about longing. It seems too big for our lives. But that’s the whole point: longing is eternal and infinite, just as we are. And yet we spend so much of our lives being small. We go about the tasks of daily living, brushing our teeth and watching our weight and getting to work on time and planning our next vacation. Occasionally we drop into moments of awe and wonder, and we realize that life – that we – are so much more than the sum of these things. We discover parts of ourselves that have never seen the light of day. And they long to be seen. We long to be seen, and at the same time we are terrified of being seen. But we must be seen – it is why we are here. Finally the need to fully express ourselves sweeps past the terror, and we take our first, tentative steps toward wholeness. Our longing shows us the way.
And that is why, quite simply, we must be willing to connect with it. If we don’t accept and engage and encourage our longing, it will remain in hiding, quiet and probably a wee bit grumpy. It will be underfed and undernourished, and it won’t be able to muster the bravado to look our fears in the eye and say, “Enough of you for now. Step aside.” How can we ever hope to fulfill our longing if we do not acknowledge it?
We cannot. And so as we stand in the freshness of a new year, what better resolution can we set than to reconnect with our deepest yearnings, our passion for life that, once ignited, breathes new life into us? What greater gift could we give the world than the joyful, authentic expression of our best selves? And only our longings can reveal that truth to us - the truth of who we are.
What is it that, perhaps secretly, you have always longed to do or be? Many of us get a little paralyzed when we consider something as tremendous and deep as longing. Good heavens, we think, I’m just trying to pay the bills and remember to make that dentist appointment and keep the kids from driving me crazy. I haven’t got a clue what my secret longings are…I’m not even sure I have any! Or maybe our paralysis comes from a different place: we may know exactly what we long for, yet we’re terrified of claiming it. We’re sure that we can never have it, and so we believe that wanting it will bring nothing but dissatisfaction or despair. And so we convince ourselves that we don’t really want it or that it’s simply not possible. It’s just too big, too far away.
But here’s a lovely little thing to know about longing: it exists on many levels, all at once. We don’t have to start with the grand, deep, sweeping longing to save the world. Nor do we even have to know with any certainty what our longing is. We have only to ask ourselves, “What do I need in my life right now? What gives me real pleasure?” Consider that all of your longings, small and large – to be healthy, to experience intimacy, to reconnect with nature, to take a nap, to do work you love – are in service of the deeper longing to express the truth of who you are. I have a deep longing to be a writer, but I also long to teach and dance and spend time with friends and sink my feet into the sand, and I make room in my life for all of those things. Acknowledging our longing on any level is like cracking open a window that’s been closed for years: just a little opening lets in much-needed air, and that fresh current feels so good we open the window even further and then, finally, push it up all the way.
So go ahead, throw open the window to your longings – usher them in and give yourself full permission to want what you truly want. Your longings are here for a sacred purpose – your purpose. Let them become your trusted guide on the journey of creating a passionate life. The life you came here to live, and the one that starts anew – here, now – in 2010.
Copyright © 2009
Suzanne E. Eder