What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell)
Should is a difficult word for me. Now, could - could I can work with. What could I have done...
Coulda, shoulda, woulda. This line of thinking feels like a rat-hole of self-indulgent confession.
But Avoidance. That's a prompt that's not to be passed by unattended.
What am I avoiding? Here's one: Letting go of longing.
Longing gets in the way of my presence, and, longing feeds my imagination. Like TV feeds the imagination of millions, setting up standards and comparisons they can use to judge life status, my longing gives me a quick fix peek into what could be better than this.
My longing is like an addiction. It seems to be attached to particular wishes, but if they come to fruition, the longing just finds another host. Several things I long for seem just enough out of reach that they are perpetually outside the bounds of what currently seems possible. When something I long for happens, it's no time at all before I treat those miracles as common place, just "what is." And long for something else.
I have avoided letting go of longing, in part because I feel like it keeps me going. Without it, I would need to say, this is what I am, this is where I am, and it's not what I expected or even what I thought I wanted. Yet it is a wonderful life.
More than that, I think I'm afraid to let it go. Somewhere in me, I believe that longing keeps me from despair when things seem hard (impossible), sad (unbearable), dull (always the same), hard to understand (pointless). Longing says, it doesn't have to always be like this. If this thing or that happened, everything would be different! Better!
Longing pretends to be Hope, and it does a pretty good impersonation. But if you look closely, the makeup is caked on.
So here's my fear: what if I let go of longing, and there's nothing left of what I thought was hope? What then? Will I fall? Can I get back up from that, or does the fall alone take my breath from my body?
I'm hoping to wean myself off longing by building my muscles in curiosity, wonder, openness, attention, welcome, benefit-of-the-doubt/slack, compassion and love. To name a few. It takes practice to keep employing these when fear, anxiety, "what will they think" and "how will that impact me" take over. It's also hard to remember to change my thinking patterns before I spend too much time in the old ones.
All that work will be for naught if I'm too afraid to let the longing go. I guess where I really need to spend my time in on hope. It might help if I'm sure that I can even tell the difference between longing and hope, untangle that mess in my mind and heart.
2011, I'm ready. Let's make me hopeful.