Longing is a double edged sword.
Longing that is backed by vision becomes the wind in your sails, and it will push you forward. Longing that cannot be explained, or that is rooted in selfishness or envy, will feel like rowing upstream. In one arena we will find ambition, and in the other we will find restlessness. In one we find content, and the other envy.
On both sides of longing there is a deep need for something more. Is this longing for success, recognition, glory, friendship, community, peace, or solitude? Is it a longing for money or security? These are just some aspects associated with longing, and none of them in themselves are inherently good or bad. In all of us, there is a feeling that there is something more in this life; and that is why we need to take the time to get to the roots of the longing.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs
Unrooted or inexplainable longing. What could it be?
You’ve felt this before right? You wake up and you are ready to get stuff done; only you don’t really know what it is that you are supposed to get done. Perhaps there is an ongoing to do list, and maybe those tasks seem just unimportant enough that they get deemed unworthy of our time; so you take care of something that seems more important, but it doesn’t take as long a you thought. Do the little unimportant things creep back up to eat at you? If so, maybe we just need to get them taken care of.
If the longing was solely related to a to do list, then we should feel better right? What if that longing, or restlessness, is still there? Is it just a physical build up of energy that we need to exert? If so, maybe you take a run or hit the gym. Sometimes that does it, and we find ourselves with a little more peace and clarity than we had before. What if it doesn’t help though?
I find myself stuck in these cycles sometimes. I will go through the list: run, read, write, play guitar, text a friend, clean up, and so on. I will find myself looking for an activity to feed my soul, an activity to calm this restlessness. It is in these moments that I begin to think that maybe this longing comes not just from my mind, but my heart and soul.
A longing for meaning.
When I do come to these crossroads where heart meets body meets mind meets soul, it is time to dig deep. In these times, I go through a different kind of list: Pray, meditate, run, write, and read. Some activities are on both lists, and that is because they lead me down the path of introspection. We have versions of ourselves that we experience throughout our days, and some versions feel better than others.
The nights that we fall asleep feeling at peace, or often the days that we have lived within the light of our purpose; those are the days that we need to remember. Each one is a glimpse of our purpose, and the impact that we can have.
When I think of the words purpose or meaning, I always come back to the word impact; because impact is the mark we leave on the day. If we follow the voice inside of us, and the times that we find peace, we can learn how to be intentional about our impact. The idea of this blog, The Story We Write, is that we are impacting the lives around us every day whether or not we are intentional about our words and actions. I believe that if we were honest with ourselves, we would prefer to positively impact the lives around us, and if that is the case, then intentionality and good practices are key.
Intentionality makes us mindful of the moments. Good practice creates an intentionally created autopilot that can maintain our course of good even if we are off of our game.
So let’s take some time today, and each day, to examine the state of our minds and the state of our hearts. What is the good you want to achieve? Start as local as possible: Parents can focus on being good parents, spouses can focus on being good spouses, friends can focus on being good friends; and if we can become great in the basic relationships of our life, then our impact can spread beyond what we can see and know.