Desire. Desiring. Wanting.
I desire many things. Intensely deep, rich, dark, tarry chocolate. Exercising till I sweat rivers down my back, between my breasts, into my eyes. Soulful conversations that draw me into a deeper understanding of my rich friendships. Belly laughs that turn contagious and nonsensical, ending in fits on the floor, alternating sighing and laughing until fatigue burns through the impulse. Butter that is cultured and snobby, tasting of so much more than just butter, melting on my mouth as my eyes roll back. Losing-my-head sex. Dinner parties with friends, finished off with my mother’s glorious devil’s coffee.
I desire these things, and so much more.
I desire these things, and I often get them. Although sometimes I desire them and don’t get them, savouring the memory of getting them in the past and planning how to satisfy my desire in the future feels just as exquisite. These desires are achievable. These desires are pleasurable. These desires are rooted in my own self, my felt senses, and these desires feed me.
Desire. Desiring. Wanting.
These words draw up inside of me a fire of energy, a fire of movement, a fire towards seeking, stepping into actualizing that which is desired. Desire and wanting inspire an animated assertive claiming of myself, my sovereignty.
A foot-stamping down declaration of ‘I WANT!!!’
Longing. Yearning. Wistfulness.
I long and yearn for many things too. I long for financial abundance. For enough money that I don’t have to worry about being a single mother and how I’m going to carry on and afford holidays or schooling for my daughter or what happens if I get sick and when I get old. I long for looooooooooove. I long for an epic love, replete with a handsome man pursuing me and desiring me. For friends and family that seek me out and adore me and express it to me so that I feel loved all the time. I long for uninterrupted time to create art and I long to be successful and sell my art. I long for a tiny home on wheels. I long for extended spiritual retreats with like-minded people.
I long for so many things, yearn for them, wistfully look in the direction of other people that have what I long for, and in this state, the object of my longing always seems entirely out of reach. Unattainable. Hopeless.
Longing. Yearning. Wistfulness.
These words do not draw up a fire inside of me. They do not create movement or an actualizing. Instead, they inspire an inert hopelessness. When I long I feel cold and small and distant. A heart-emptying energy-draining soul-sucking sense of being entirely not enough.
These two concepts of desire and longing, they have been brewing inside of me for a while. I’ve been thinking about how much of my life has been taken over with longing for what feels unattainable and frustrating versus how much of my life has been taken up with wanting that which I truly desire.
As so often happens when I pay attention, intuition and synchronicities arrive to guide and teach me.
It’s no surprise then, that I recently came across a most incredible definition of desire vs. longing, quite by accident, entirely through serendipity, bringing me the exact words I needed to read.
Will writes on the difference between wanting and longing as well as why it’s wise to want and desire but wiser to let go of the longing. He asks:
“Is that giving up, or is it more about reclaiming [oneself]? I think the latter. Wanting is “to feel a need or a desire for; wish for.” I am all about desire and wishing. I celebrate that I can want. It feeds me to want. I feel empowered and alive and capable.
What is longing? A dictionary definition is a “strong, persistent desire or craving, especially for something unattainable or distant.” Craving…something unattainable or distant. Longing requires that you give up before you even start.
Longing is reaching out, looking for a reflection and affirmation of my needs from someone external. It’s painful and difficult to long for something or someone. Longing seems to require an inability to be satisfied.
Longing is at its core about my own insecurity and hopelessness, and therefore it is all about me. If I am longing for someone, I am actually mourning my loss of them or what they stand for. I have made them a source of my pain, which is probably neither kind nor fair to them…and certainly affects how close I can feel to them.
Longing is also about giving up my power. Getting back to desire from a place of longing requires strength and hope. Rekindling desire is about taking responsibility for where I have given up power, and taking it back. I am responsible for my own needs, wants and desires.”
Being in the midst of the desire, but giving up the longing.
What would happen if I practiced feeling desire, without yearning for it? Making it a spiritual practice, then, to desire, without longing. To want, without being attached to getting.
To admire others’ circumstances without falling into the log boom trap of envy and longing. To feel the charge of desire when I see someone living a life I want, or have wanted, without poisoning it?
I no longer want to feel longing when it means giving up my power. I no longer want to long for that which makes someone else the source of my pain. I no longer want to long for and seek out a reflection of my beliefs by projecting them onto someone outside of myself. I no longer want to give up before I even start, and I no longer want to envy others and resent my own life.
My own life in my own body. She has been this dusty gorgeous goddess, gathering lint, making homes for spiders in a small corner of my mind’s basement. She’s been thrust aside as not enough, cast down the stairs into the darkness, and I say enough!
My own life.
My own life. She deserves all of that energy that has been so tied up in longings. Yearnings. Wistfulness. Envy.
My own life. With my own child. My own talents. My own interests. My own body. My own desires. She deserves to be the source of everything that satisfies me. She deserves the displaced adoration and misplaced hungers that have for so long been given away to others’ situations, to others in general.
Why not live this life, this life right now, as if the object of my longing is my own beautiful body, heart and mind.
In my own circumstances: yes – bellyaches, single-parenting, self-doubting, creative artist, healing worker, insatiable seeker of the mysteries, complicated pendulum swings of interests, money stresses, worries and all sides and aspects of me.
This feels most right.
How could I ever have thought otherwise?
As usual, I’m so curious.
What role has longing played in your heart? What about desire? Where is your life right now? Are you allowing it to come up from the basement and express it’s wishes?
Where has your power been directed away and out, and other people that seem to get more, have more, be happier, be something that you long for? How can you pull that back into yourself?
How can you desire for your own life in your own body, and really own that as the most beautiful thing around?
Until next time,
ps – do my stories and discussions resonate? Are you wanting change in your life? Join my transformational memoir-writing course, the Art of Personal Mythmaking.