“…There is the heat of Love, the pulsing rush of Longing, the lover’s whisper, irresistible—magic to make the sanest man go mad.” ― Homer, The Iliad
We all have deeply ingrained yearnings that feed and nurture our inclinations, somehow sending out sub-atomic signals of unblushing desire that call for a response from whomever and who ever will hear our cry and acknowledge our need. Sometimes those signals are deliberate and obvious like a strutting peacock who needs to be noticed and at other times a more subtle yet equally incessant projection of an affectionate gaze.
Like a pheromone, our need for attention is released into the atmosphere in order to enhance our allure and attractive appeal, and hopefully collide with the muse of fulfilment who is working on our behalf.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life - Hebrew Proverb
Truth be told we will all experience the delay of gratification, a reminder that our hearts desires are at the mercy of timing and fate, a divine providence of sorts. Maybe that's why the ancients saw the tree as a metaphor for life eternal, (some trees live for thousands of years) natures poignant descriptor of how fulfilment and hope are multi-generational and not restricted to our individual existence. Sometimes my longings find fulfilment in those who come after me.
After landing at Brisbane airport on a recent trip to Australia I was walking to Customs only to be chased down by a woman who had been on my flight. Through hurried breath she proceeded to tell me that she felt compelled to give me a Leonard Cohen book of poetry called ‘Book of Longing’. As you can imagine I was a little surprised and bewildered, and even though I have had numerous such experiences over the years, it never ceases to amaze me how the mysterious conspires on our behalf.
After ascertaining that she had recognised me from a meeting I had spoken at in Vancouver 2 years prior we reintroduced ourselves and marvelled at how a chance meeting can be a timely response to the cry of the human heart. In times like this a lot of questions came flooding into our minds but these two caught my attention...
How did someone else know about my longings?
What longings are needing my immediate attention?
The book was not a repair manual or 10 point guide to a greater life, but rather a fountain of rambling metaphors and imaginative prose that was attempting to describe another persons journey of inclination.
When true desire surfaces in our life, especially in poetic form it comes with a raw honesty that will sometimes expose our feelings of self-consciousness.
Our longings are the points of connection that eventually form mutual bonds of shared communion. - GLB
Longing is sometimes likened to a‘lust' that goes to the core of our instinctual selves, that can only be met through the willing exchange of mutual embrace. Lust has been given a bad rap by the ‘moral police’ who have somehow muddied the waters of our divine sexuality, making it a problem to solve and a behaviour to monitor rather than a gift to be opened and enjoyed. We have spent so much time trying to reign in desire through strict boundaries, (which I am not saying are wrong), that our hearts are mostly on life support machines, sick with unrequited love.
Longing is a yearning desire that hides in the human heart, occasionally emerging when aroused by another who has brushed past, exposing our deepest need and giving us permission to climb the tree of life and look out on the vastness of all that existence offers us.
As I said earlier the tree as our metaphor for ‘eternal life’ is a reminder that there is something transcendental that is watching over us, arms stretched out like a canopy of protection and provision just waiting to drop its fruit into our lives at any given moment.
You go your way
I’ll go your way too
- Leonard Cohen