In praise of longing.

I came across this quote in one of the books I am re-reading, The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard:

But isn’t waiting itself and longing a wonder, being played on by wind, sun, and shade?


I have often associated longing as a paralyzing, waste of time. It just screams weary and melancholic.

But of course, I am an Eeyore plus a walking contradiction most days so I have fallen in LOVE with this feeling.

Psalm #2: In praise of longing.

I long for the days when I didn’t have to get up to pee in the middle of the night. They were literally only a handful of days in lay life – I was pregnant or nursing for most of my 20s and early 30s.

But on this night. This particular night that I have to get up and go pee, it’s a new moon.

There it is again. That feeling. (No, not the feeling of having to pee but this longing.)

Getting up in the middle of the night to pee means going outside in the dark. I can see the Milky Way. The absence of the moon gives the stars a chance to have their moment. There is a rhythm – the wax and the wane – where we begin to stop longing and relax into it. Except when I long for the light at night. The full moon. The empty nighttime bladder.

(Practical side note: I won’t turn on the light because then I will have fully woken up instead of being semi-conscious enough to go back to sleep.)

With age, comes an acceptance and almost a welcome to longing.

The older we get, the more chances we have to look back, playing with the elements.

Yes yes. Live in the present. Be here now. The past and future don’t exist.

But there is something romantic about longing. Something very Victorian era. Something tangible that Jane Austen would write about, as my third child would say.

A longing for a time when there was no shame in forgetting to squirt the hand sanitizer before entering the grocery store. A longing for frolicking in the ocean. A longing that teeters on that precipice of hope but shies away from the brightness of that light, opting for the cool shade of nostalgia.

I will not convince myself to shake off the grasping and yearning.

Today as I celebrate longing. I know I won’t remain here in this in-between of time and spaces of my heart. (My husband won’t allow it.) But as I sit and breathe in those memories of when my five kids fit in my arms all at once, I will let that lump in my throat stay. As I look at pictures of my grandparents and my great-aunts who have all passed in the last three years while I have been miles away, I will stay long enough to hear the echo of a language that used to ring in my ears.

And above all, as I look now at the sliver of the moon waxing slowly, I will long for the darkness.






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