Reading and longing

A friend messaged me this week and said he was hungry for something to read and wanted to know if I had something shareable to feast upon because he couldn’t find anything that moved him. It made me reflect on my own casting about for something to read for inspiration.

That yearning has always been in me, like a dark hungry shape in the water that sticks its head up and looks around watching, waiting for something. I never know what it will leap upon to feast. And I’ve never quite understood what this yearning is or what it’s searching for but it’s been there for as long as I can remember. Is it a search for meaning or inspiration, to be lifted out of the humdrum? Or is it some yearning for connection, to be touched by the world or to come home to myself?

In my twenties it was like an addiction. I was a glutton for self help books and workshops. It was like eating junk food. Things satisfied me while I was devouring them but the hunger would return, stronger. Meditation helped while I was disciplined enough to keep it up but I couldn’t always translate the insight of meditation into my everyday. It created a split personality; a would-be saint while I was on the meditation cushion, and a flawed human when I walked in the world, and the hunger always grew back.

It’s only been in writing and other creative pursuits that I’ve been able to feed the hunger consistently. I’ve sometimes wondered if the hunger is my writing. It is what calls me to write, to dive deeper into myself, and the world, to find something beautiful or fascinating, some deeper meaning under the surface of mundanity.

In this moment the yearning is in me as I try to find words to hold this hunger and write it down. It’s like a frustration, an agitation, a child banging on the door to come in. I don’t know what’s inside, I only know I have to get inside to find out. Yes, it’s like an intense curiosity.

I press into this mystery, trying to understand the yearning. I feel frustrated, running around in circles chasing a dog’s tail that I can’t quite catch. It makes my head ache.

I wait. I watch the tide turning. I try to catch the wave and ride it even though I don’t know where it will take me, or if it will dump me.

I think this is the point where the reader differs from the writer. The reader goes to find something to read that will feed this longing, while the writer stays with the frustration, and surrenders to the longing.

I let the yearning feast on me.

And now everything is still. I breathe deep like a sigh. There’s a fragrance of feeling so familiar, but it has no name. It’s the sweet sadness of coming home when you’ve been away too long because you’ve been too much in the world.

Yes I think this is the yearning to come home to who we are. We are so pulled and tugged by our busy lives that it’s hard to remember to come back to ourselves. Often it’s the longing that calls to us to come back to ourselves to listen to the whispering of the soul to remember what we really love.

Perhaps more than the writing or the reading it is the sharing, the effort of the writer to name what is hard to name, and the engagement of the reader, that remind us that we are all muddling along in the same messy human condition. And at times the best we can do is remind each other of what is wonderful and beautiful in the world, especially our longing to connect to each other, which may be the most remarkable of all human capabilities.


And some words from the master of beautiful words on longing, Rumi.

Some Kiss We Want


There is some kiss we want with

our whole lives, the touch of


spirit on the body. Seawater

begs the pearl to break its shell.


And the lily, how passionately

it needs some wild darling! At


night, I open the window and ask

the moon to come and press its


face against mine. Breathe into me

Close the language- door and


open the love window. The moon

won’t use the door, only the window.


From Soul of Rumi

by Coleman Barks

(borrowed from




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