A Meditation on Yearning
Yes, I binge-watched Bridgerton
Because of my work, because of life, because of Jonathan Bailey in Bridgerton and the way he whispers “lilies,” because we are on the precipice of summer, a season where the promise of romance is sweet note in the breeze, I have recently been thinking about yearning. The state of active want, deep, focused, aching desire. Specifically about yearning when it comes to partnership, love and intimacy. I think people are inclined to feel a shame or embarrassment about yearning. As if wanting something deeply, viscerally, calls at a weakness or an internal deficit, a lack, a vacuum.
I feel that yearning speaks at a fullness rather than a lack. When the bone-deep want rises so high that it touches our skin from the inside, making it cry for a thoughtful, thoughtless touch, the casual hand making its way to our arm to stroke during conversation, because the care and connection is so vital it needs to make itself known tangibly- it is proof that we are alive, that our heart is whirring, that it has something it wants to give, wants to share. Isn’t that beautiful? I think it is beautiful if we let it be.
When I have encountered yearning, it feels like a sweetpain in the pit of my stomach. I feel the whole weight of my heart, the metaphorical, spiritual one fusing with my physical one, I feel, the want filling it up and making it heavy like fruit ready to drop off the branch, like fruit ready to fulfil its purpose, like fruit, ready for its flesh and its juice to refresh the one hungry for it, the one who would lick the sweetness of their lips like waste not, want not, like it is liquid gold. The one who would bite into the flesh and thank God for the boon, who would utter a benediction, say “ah…this is what I said Grace for”, for what we are about to receive, may I be truly thankful, and may they be truly thankful. It is an exquisite frustration to have a love so alive it spills out of your hands but to find no one to give it to, no one worthy, an exquisite frustration when you can envision the person who is worthy, see clearly how sublime it would be, feel the ghost simulation of that joy.
I think if yearning is left too long, untouched, unlooked at, abandoned, it can harden into hopelessness, lose the sweetness and become unalloyed pain; it can rot, eat at the good we have inside, coat our tongues so all the honey in our world turns rancid and bitter because it is not the thing we specifically do not have. But when we acknowledge the yearning, confront it with no fear, look at what it means, how it is proof that we are alive in this world, I think it can be alchemised into hope. In choosing to revel in the sweetness rather than the pain, we can find in the yearning a true clarity of desire. I know it is tempting to rush this process and think, “I know what I want. A partner,. Have you not been listening???” and seek partnership for partnership’s sake. But if a friend was coming to see you after a long time, after a long journey, exhausted and hungry, would you seek to find out their favourite meal and cook (or order in, if you’re like me and Beyoncé and don’t cook) their favourite meal, or would you slap some butter on a slab of white bread and tell them to make do with that? I would hope most of us would order in their favourite Nandos meal at least. Like so, in interrogating our yearning, we find out the specificity of what we really want, so when finding a home for our love, it is welcomed into an environment that best serves it, and where it can best serve. We begin to understand ourselves and the places our hearts can thrive and give all it can without emptying, because it is filled right back up with the love we deserve.
Yearning allows us the space to learn the specificity of our want, of our taste. So instead of saying “I want a partner,” you say “I want a partner that does neck grabs like Jonathan Bailey in Bridgerton,” for example. Or “I want a partner that laughs with the full force of their soul,” or, “I want a partner who can read my quiet,” or “I want a partner so kind to me, so in love with me, that every look feels like the first sunbeam of spring”.
I think the specificity in our hearts is not unfounded, and I think it exists to be found. That is where the hope in yearning lies. Revel in the sweetpain, listen to it carefully, pray on it, meditate on it, let it guide your discernment so your love will not be wasted.