I know it’s a simple question. Maybe even an obvious one. That we yearn is self-evident. But how often have you asked, Well, why? Why do we yearn?
We all want something so achingly badly, it hurts. To find love, to create something substantial, to leave a mark, to connect, to feel joy, to feel calm, to be safe, to have more, and then just a bit more, and on and on. But it’s always something that is just beyond our grasp.
And because we’re all so familiar with this fundamental state, I won’t keep on it. But when you ask “why”, well, that’s when the concept really gets interesting.
Do we yearn because it is an exquisite pain, something bigger than us, something so heartfelt it reminds us we’re alive? Do we yearn because it forces us to keep pushing ourselves to greater heights. I mean, without yearning, would any of this—this, look around, all this stuff—be here, or would we still be back in caves, not even a fire to warm us because we haven’t yearned it into existence?
I know what I yearn about. I yearn about love. So I seek it out, always striving to keep it around me, truly suffering when it is threatened (or worse). I yearn about getting my work out there, not so that it’ll be some award-winning achievement (although, sure, that would be nice), but in a way that will collect people around my “tribal fire” so I can tell them a story—true or fiction, both—and we can laugh or cry or wonder together (hello, blog buddies!). But here’s the rub: even when I have these things, the yearning doesn’t go away. The yearning yearns for that something to either be more than it is or it yearns against the fear that it might go away, as if there is an absolute certainty that something great will end and I will suffer.
So what do you yearn about? And why do you think we yearn at all?
Deb: What a provocative subject, Barb. Yearning, I think, is what keeps us going. I myself yearn for a very long life. That has always been my yearning. I want to live well and I want to live long. I yearn to travel the globe with my family. I want to see as much of it as I possibly can. The long life I yearn for will help with that quest. My yearning changed over the years. When I was younger it was always about art, and it still is, but not as strong as other yearnings, I guess. Clearly my yearning is still learning!