who will jolt awake
all the unwritten
and the unlived
i am waiting
~ Sanober Khan
Longing is that ache, that unmet echo, those unfulfilled needs. It's such a romantic notion. In poetry, everyone longs for everything else. Sometimes when we want something so bad, the joy of anticipatory longing is even more exciting than actual fulfillment. Certain people seem to be hopped up in this constant state, always with something to long for on the horizon--the next purchase, the next party, the next partner. Life eternally poised in possibility. What a way to feel alive, without actually doing any living.
Longing becomes its own orientation. Just as someone traumatized scans for danger and someone betrayed snoops for proofs of infidelity, so someone who has been deprived forever longs for something else. They can land the loving partner, the ideal job, the dream house and still get lost in longing. It's an addictive mind-state. Oftentimes spellbound states of wishing during childhood provided an escape or distraction from harsh reality. Intense longing might be preceded by an inability to handle ambivalence, usually described as life seeming "so blah." Longing is a cover-up for the inability to understand and express authentic needs.
Many times the needs underneath our longing remain unmet because we've never been able to articulate and share them. Early attempts might've been met with shaming, or perhaps we witnessed another's rejection and came to the conclusion that honesty results in pain. To bring the source of longing into the light of awareness rewires the brain pattern that constantly longs for relief without ever taking the obvious actions that would bring relief. Acknowledging our true needs doesn't guarantee they will be fulfilled, but moving beyond the fear that freezes us in a state of unfulfilled longing might elongate our capacity for inner peace.
DAILY HEALTHY ACTS
- Have you ever deeply longed for a person or object? List the first four examples of longing that come to mind.
- Summon the feeling of longing. As your nervous system becomes activated, look for similarities to the state of being triggered by danger, such as witnessing an argument or accident. Today, look for any triggers preceding each moment of longing.
- Longing is not loving, although they may coexist. The next time you feel longing, visualize sending out rays of love to everyone in need. Get yourself out of deprivation and into action.
"Love is the true state of the human heart. When we love, we unguard our hearts. We open ourselves up to the world without any restraint. When passion flows, desires stir, our earthy senses become dull, and our ethereal self becomes illumined. At this stage, we are naked, totally naked, with little or no covering of ego."
~ Salil Jha
Poets and scholars have pondered the meaning of lovefrom the beginning of time. The Greeks delineated three types of love: Agape, Philia, and Eros. Agape is a love that is so deep and profound it includes the universe; it is a feeling that emerges from inside our being and encompasses the depths of our soul. Philia is the love we feel for our friends--the warm, familial gentleness that brings security, laughter and kindness to our lives. Eros, or romantic love shot from Cupid's arrow, is the love that starts wars, moves mountains, and makes star-crossed lovers like Romeo and Juliet die for one another. Eros is passionate and sexual and, like a powerful drug, sends us into a swoon (and sometimes out of our right minds). It inoculates us to our lover's imperfections so that we enter the commitments of everlasting love which are necessary for building a family.
In the game of tennis "love" is a score of zero, suggesting that when we're in love the score is even and all is well. But how often do we keep a competitive score in love relationships? This "tit-for-tat" score-keeping holds the ball in play so that we don't have to look at ourselves. Research shows that when contempt, defensiveness, blame and shame are in the forefront of a couple's style of relating, divorce is surely on the horizon. Conversely, utterances of love and appreciation are antidotes to nasty, "I won, you lose!" words that eat at the foundation of love. Keep the score zero in your love relationship: Give generous doses of gratitude, make caring gestures to your partner daily, and watch the passion and abundance grow.
DAILY HEALTHY ACTS
- Keep a healthy score by counting how many times you utter something loving and positive to your partner in a day.
- Tell your friends and family members that you love them, and follow that by a loving action.
- Give thanks to your Higher Power (whether spiritual or philosophical) by making a gesture that has meaning to mankind, such as holding a door open for someone, offering a smile, or making a donation to a charity or person in need.