Do you ever yearn? Some folks yearn to write. Others yearn to paint, or to capture images with a camera, or yearn to connect to a husband or wife or daughter or son…or to God. Yearning embraces a sense that somethings missing, that perfection or wholeness or actualization or some other buzzword of fulfillment is incomplete. Is yearning the sign of an emotionally healthy person? Beats me, I don’t have the definitive answer, but I have observed yearning, pining, hankering, craving and emotional thirst as a common characteristic of the humanity I’ve encountered in my relational universe. Yearning is even expressed in pop culture. Remember the Seinfeld episode with Kramer revealing to George his yearning to go to California to act in movies. Kramer moves over into the booth at the diner next to George and gets right in his face and asks him if he ever yearns.
KRAMER: Do you ever yearn? GEORGE: Yearn? Do I yearn? KRAMER: I yearn. GEORGE: You yearn. KRAMER: Oh, yes. Yes, I yearn. Often, I…I sit…and yearn. Have you yearned? GEORGE: Well, not recently. I craved. I crave all the time, constant craving…but I haven’t yearned.
Then Kramer recalls his one movie job and speaking part with the line, “These pretzels are making me thirsty.” He tells George about his yearning to go to California. Then George reminds him that his stint in the Woody Allen movie didn’t end well and he got fired. To which Kramer replies, “I know, I know, but man! I never felt so alive!”
So what does it mean to yearn? Is it to be alive? Is it to feel the unexpressed within our creative nature? Is it a longing for what we can’t reach and have? Are yearnings simply cravings to satisfy? What about faith? Does confidence in a transcendent being, one outside ourselves, outside our control, change how we yearn? In other words, do atheists, agnostics, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus…all yearn in the same way? How much is yearning simply part of our organic nature as humans? I don’t know, but I have been pondering the idea of yearning as it relates to writing. Here’s my thought.
The inspiration to write is not easily manufactured or artificially produced. It’s a yearning that begins with the collision of the why that resides within me and the inspiration that knocks on my front door in moments of lucidity. Inspiration enters from my environment and begins a leisurely backstroke through my stream of consciousness, leering and meandering in the backwaters and inlets of my being, striking up conversation with the who that I am. As inspiration mingles with who and why, they begin a conversation. If they enjoy one another and bond, they have a cup of coffee as more visitors arrive. What, where, when and how stop by the café, pull up chairs, prop their feet on the table, and the rumbling stumbling ruminations commence. Then I get uncomfortable, physically, in the same way one feels hunger or cold or fear. And the only outlet for the feeling is to let the dogs run, let the thoughts out, let the feelings animate and fall on the page. And then…I feel better. Does anyone else feel this strangeness, this yearning to express something via artistic expression? I was just wondering.
“I believe in the Kingdom come, then all the colors will bleed into one…but yes I’m still running. You broke the bonds and you loosed the chains, carried the cross of my shame, you know I believe it. But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” U2 (from an old african-american gospel song)