I know sometimes longing hurts. It feels like your heart is being squeezed by a cruel unseen hand. When you are in the grip of it, it can feel like hell. And if someone comes along and tells you that you can soften, even inside of that torturous grip, you may just want to slap that oh so enlightened soul. That mix of frustration and desire.
Here’s the thing. Your longing is not a curse.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the Lover archetype. We’ve all found ourselves in the drama of what they used to call “unrequited love.”That mix of frustration and desire, wanting them so badly but it just isn’t happening in the way we are sure could be so good! But it’s not only romance that can give you the sting of unrequited love. Anything you want badly but that seems out of your grasp can put you in this state of longing. Often we experience it as some kind of torture.
I know this terrain. When I started delving into “personal development” I tried to “heal” from this unenlightened, much too melancholy, embarrassingly sentimental streak. So then, on top of feeling terrible because I was caught up in the longing, I added another layer of feeling ashamed that I was wired like this.
But, what I really wanted was something deeper, something that I sensed when I read a great poem or lost myself in music. I don’t like to use words like divine, but I guess divine refers to the ineffable, the thing beyond words, what the mystics have always tried and never totally succeeded in putting into language.
I stopped seeing this part of me as some mental health issue to work my way through in therapy. I found that if I can be with it and accept myself exactly as I am in those moments, I see this longing actually connects me in a direct line which I can trace to the deepest recesses of my heart.
What I find there is the flame of pure desire. And I mean desire not just in the sexual or erotic sense, though these are certainly expressions of that flame. I mean desire as an animating force. The outer expression could be any number of things, but that is not so important. Ultimately I believe on the other end of that line of longing that connects to my heart is nothing less than god.
So now when that heart wrenching longing wakes up in me, I pay attention. If I can drop the judgment, drop the reflex to numb it out or diffuse it, and instead go into the center of the longing itself, I find the beating core of my life. Here is the place where anguish and joy meet and dance and become indistinguishable. The place where poems are born, and ecstasy is available, and the place where the lover in me feels so alive. And for that, regardless of outcomes, for that experience I am so grateful. I get to feel the pulse of my desire and that pulse is love.
Here is some Rumi. He knew.
the touch of Spirit on the body.
to break its shell.
it needs some wild Darling!
Breathe into me.
and open the love-window.
only the window.