Here’s a quote I came across yesterday (apparently it’s the star that Julian Assange steers by). I like it very much and thought you might too: If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the seas. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince
The quote brought up the question for me, “Is longing really a good thing?” It implies something is missing, as in desiring a man or woman in one’s life, if you’re a lonely single.
Another kind of hunger we have is to achieve. This can be a destructive driving force, the undisciplined energy of an obsessive painter or writer. Or, it can be a yen to manifest something from the innermost soul, a unique contribution to humankind, like designing a Chartres cathedral or finding a cure for malaria.
It’s possible to have small appetites, too. The photo above shows me on a slack rope a couple of meters off the ground at the Burning Man Festival. Something called to me to test my new titanium hips by walking in the air. It was exhilarating and made me want to do it all over again after I finished the course, which I subsequently did.
Yearning can also take one inwards, in a search for non-material fulfilment. It can start as simply as wanting to be alone. You create a quiet environment in which to explore being present to yourself, to your thoughts and sensations. When you go out into your worldly activities, and get hugely busy as we do at this time of year, you ache to get back to the sanctuary you’ve created. With continued reflective practice, the division between outer and inner worlds effaces, and your refuge is the world, and and the world is your refuge.