Longings unmet

Recent research has found a correlation between playing informal games as a child and being creative as an adult; the opposite was true of the time spent playing formal organised games.’*
(Tim Harford)

re-examine all you’ve been told at school or church or in any book; dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency no only in its words but in the silent lines**
(Walt Whitman)

Perhaps Nassim Taleb is picking up on what the formal games lead to when he writes of the predictability of our days:

‘If you know, in the morning, what your day looks like with any precision, you are a little bit dead – the more precision, the more dead you are.’^

Joseph Campbell points us in the direction of the inner life and what it is saying to us about what it wants to be about but if we haven’t cultivated this then we will be lost:

‘When you get older, and the concerns of the day have all been attended to, and you turn to your inner life – well, if you don’t know where it is or what it is, you’ll be sorry.’^^

Palliative-care nurse Bronnie Ware wrote an article on the top five regrets people in her care articulated: they had not lived a life true to who they are; they had worked too hard; they lacked courage to express their feelings; they had not remained in touch with friends; and, they hadn’t allowed themselves to be happier.*^

Our longings might be seen as tensions between our dreams and reality.  As Kelvy Bird points out, the interesting stuff happens in-between:

‘With vision above and reality at the base, creativity resides between the two.’^*

Longings are what make us human.  I appreciate that a number of faiths suggest overcoming longings and desires, though, as physicist Sean Carroll suggests, this too is a longing or desire:

“In human terms, the dynamic nature of life itself as a desire.  There is always some thing we want, even if what we want is to break free of the bonds of desire.  Curiosity is a form of desire.”⁺

If we do not pick up and run with our desires then we lay ourselves open to the pushing and pulling of others.  It is where we find our joy, which I guess is what a life without regrets is about.

Audre Lorde aligns with Campbell, encouraging us to go where our ‘true spirit rises.’  Although Lorde is writing for women, there is power in her words for every person;

‘For each of us as women, there is a dark place within where hidden and growing our true spirit rises,

and tough as chestnut
stanchion against your nightmares of weakness”

and of impotence.’⁺⁺

(*From Tim Harford’s Messy.)
(**From Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.)
(^From Nassim Taleb’s The Bed of Procrustes.)
(^^From Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth.)
(*^From Chip and Dan Heath’s The Power of Moments.)
(^*From Kelvy Bird’s Generative Scribing.)
(+Sean Carroll, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Existential Therapy from the Universe.)
(++From Audre Lorde’s The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.)

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