Center of Longing

Center of Longing

I want to know if you know how to melt in that fierce heat of living falling toward the center of your longing.

David Whyte, Self Portrait

It comes with no surprise that David Whyte often spurs me into thinking more deeply about my life, or at least allows me to stop and consider “Who are you? Where are you living from?” Where I am living from is more of question of a particular geographical location that’s within myself – this original shape or location that is really me, a location that it utterly my own as well as a place that I haven’t yet fully discovered. I am only given glimpses, at least in my own experience, but it’s only when I’m given those glimpses that I feel this gravitational pull to keep living into that location as well as out of that location.

The latter half of my twenties has consisted of me thinking about all the change I’ve gone through over this past decade of my life. My life looks utterly different than I thought it would and I have felt so much loss. There were so many things I thought I needed to hang onto but I had to face the necessary reality that I had outgrown those things. And this is exactly what I think this “center of longing” does for us – it’s ready to call us out of something that no longer works for us and invites us into new frontiers of becoming.

John O’Donohue (another poet that I often lean into) I think speaks to something similar in his poem For A New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

There are always new beginnings. Every day is a new beginning. There are constant invitations, whether good or bad, to live a life that we can really claim as ours (and we also sometimes, like myself, listen to voices that dissuade us from this center of longing). I think the trick is, at least for me, is this: how to remain open enough to be able to hear these honest invitations and respond to them but also be able to discern whether this invitation will disintegrate from that center or bring us into something transformational.

I’m still learning and still growing. In my own professional work as a photographer, as a husband, father, friend, and in all the other aspects of my life, I’m trying to remain open, to disclose my life, to live in such a way that keeps leaning towards this center of longing. Although it’s difficult work and I often find myself going about living in the fear of making myself look like I fool, I think I would regret if I didn’t really give myself to this life as I know I should.

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