the question of longing.

Rob Bell! Another prolific, thoughtful
person about desires and human
 Years ago, I was obsessed with a show called The L Word. L, for lesbian. Lesbian love. All about the lesbians. But more than that! It was about human relationships and how complex they can be. And also, I completely and utterly identified with one of the main characters, Jenny Schecter. I still do, actually. There was one scene in which Jenny goes to an Aquarium and sits, all dreamy and thinking, in front of the white belugas. I really, really want to recreate this scene for myself. And every time I go to the Georgia Aquarium, I try to. But the Georgia Aquarium is typically an overcrowded place of chaos and crowd rage for me, and so all the other human beings always muck up my scene recreation. Stupid human beings. Same thing at the penguin part, and the dolphins. It's quietest near the jellyfish, though. Maybe I should start there.

Anyway. On the show, the character of Jenny Schecter was a writer who moved out to Los Angeles to (a) become a famous writer and (b) marry her love. Except her love was a man when she first moved to LA. He owned a little bungalow next door to lesbians. And there were a lot of lesbians running around all over this little area of LA; it was like Little Lesbian Town. And they all hung out at this coffee shop. And then Jenny met the coffee shop owner Marina (a lesbian), who rocked her world, and so Jenny became a lesbian. Or she was bisexual, but later by the time the show ended, Jenny was just a lesbian. I don't know. Plus, I personally believe love is fluid, and so is sexuality. Plus also, the first season of any TV show is always so, so strong. By the final season, sometimes it's gone completely confusing or you forget what some of the characters' original goals were because now their goals are totally off the wall so the show writers can keep a dying vehicle going so the network can keep making money. And thus, the problem with American television. Sometimes a story needs a strong beginning, a really interesting middle, and at some point everybody at the network just needs to recognize: we've milked the middle for all it's worth, time to come up with a real strong end. Go out with a bang. Story arc. It's how stories (are supposed to) work.

But The L Word is actually not the point of this blog entry. This blog entry is actually about the concept of Eros, which is not erotic necessarily but really just longing, which is also an L word. And if you have Netflix, you can watch all the seasons of The L Word, which I highly recommend you do...at least amazing Season 1. (And here, sadly, I am compelled to add...Dear gentlemen: yes, there are boobies in the show, and yes there is a lot of girl-on-girl in the show, and yes many of the girls are very very attractive and nice to look at. But please. Please! This show was not designed for YOU, or for you to get your happy endings off of. It really is about the complexities of relationships, and finding your place in the world. Just really feel the need to put that out there, because I remember having to talk about this with male heterosexual people and really rolling my eyes really hard back then.)

So at one point in the show, Marina is kind of sort of hitting on one of Jenny's new love interests (like I said: it's a show about human relationship complexities) and she gives Jenny's new love a book that I think maybe actually inspired the show to begin with. It was a book by Anne Cameron called Eros, The Bittersweet. Eros, in Greek mythology, was the god of falling in love. Cameron wrote about the concept of love, basing her philosophy about it on Sappho's (Sappho was the person to first write that love was a bittersweet kind of feeling). Sappho thought that to love another person involved a mixture of pleasure and pain, which well...yes. Or why do it? I mean, Life (and Love) can really suck sometimes and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Nobody wants to read a book or see a movie about The Village of the Happy People (credit to Jason Isaacs for that thought), and so to really appreciate the good things, you have to have a little bad every now and then. To truly understand the gorgeously brilliant sunny day you have to endure about a full week of shitty rainy ones. I'd think the same concept applies to loving another human being - whether they're a lover, a friend, a parent, or a child. People are complex, and they fuck up a lot and they have weird quirks that'll drive you batshit crazy. Sometimes you figure out you can't live with them anymore; you work better away from each other. Sometimes they won't follow directions and get into your make up and make a huge mess and it makes you scream a lot of crazy things at them...and then later you kiss their sweet, sleeping cheek most tenderly and wonder what the hell you did to deserve them. That's love, right?

But the Greeks, when talking about eros, weren't necessarily always referring to desire between people; they also thought eros was a longing to learn, to know, to understand. In ancient Greece, gods weren't just men and women who existed somewhere far off, controlling all that happened to human beings and nature, gods and goddesses were human states of mind. For example: Eros was the god of falling in love. BEING in love was a completely different matter, and therefore controlled by other, hopefully wiser, gods. 

I'm writing about this because whenever I think about longing, I always think about the exchange between Marina and Jenny's new love interest (I forget who this was and I'm too lazy to look it up right now, sorry). Marina quotes from Cameron's book, and the quote goes like this (I did look this up, because it was worth it):

The Greek word eros denotes want, lack. The desire for that which is missing. The lover wants what he does not have; it is by definition impossible for him to have what he wants if, as soon as it is had, it is no longer wanted.

Aren't those three beautiful sentences, one beautiful thought? I mean, she's talking about love (or is she? "The desire for that which is missing..." maybe he's missing chocolate), and the show used her thought about love because the L word...L, for love, lesbian, longing. But I'm more interested in these sentences because of the concept of Eros as longing. Desiring that which you think you want most in the world but knowing that, once it's yours, you won't want it anymore. Or as much. Or you'll move on to something else. 

I'm not talking about falling in love or sleeping with someone. I'm going full Greek here and talking about things like: thinking you must, absolutely MUST, take a trip Edinburgh, Scotland and then getting there and it's not as awesome as you built up in your brain (or maybe it is! I hear you really are amazing, Edinburgh). Or thinking you must, absolutely MUST, have those new Prada shoes and then getting them and now you think you like Louboutin better. Or meeting one of your life's greatest heroes and they turn out to be an asshole. That kind of thing.

So once you get the thing you desire most, DO you? Do you grow disillusioned with it? Or bored? I'm just wondering because I'm spending an awful lot of time in tears at night talking to the air, begging it (which I personally think is listening to me, in the form of Ohm, the Universe) to help me be where I'm not dying inside just so I can pay rent. You know what I mean? 

And are these the right things to long for? Why am I not longing for my daughter to grow up healthy and strong and happy? Why is THAT not my longing. Or why am I not in tears begging the great Ohm, the air, for religions to stop killing each other and terrorists to stop terrorizing everyone. Why are THOSE not my longings? 

Probably because I'm weird. And self-absorbed. Although, wait! Maybe...maybe! Maybe if Sappho and Plato and all the other Greeks were right about eros, the mindset of longing, and we DID get our peace on earth, we'd get bored. Maybe constant battling each other is for a purpose. Maybe the point of longing is to keep us going. The point of possibility is the proverbial carrot, to keep us all growing and getting better. We are so much more advanced than back in the Dark Ages, when most people believed in changelings and spectral hounds and a flat earth and that the sky was actually a sea and real Science wasn't yet a Thing. 

At any rate. That's a lot for a Sunday night, and I have to enter some grades in a gradebook because now I'm not just officially behind I'm WTF behind. 

But before I go! Can I give you a list of my innermost longings? I'm trusting you with this, please don't share it with a lot of other people:

*To tell stories for a living (or, alternately, if I can't do storytelling, I'd at least like a job I can't wait to do every day, not one that makes me want to go back in time and kick the shit out of my college girl self's ass)
*To live by the sea
*To always be surrounded by art and music and literature and nature
*A consistent, constant sense that I'm okay, Miss M is okay, everything is okay
*To travel, a lot

There's a quote by Rumi that I've burned into my soul, that a sweet friend sent to me in the form of a ring I wear on my thumb most days of the week: What you seek is seeking you. I think this essentially defines longing for me: to be seeking something, hoping it's seeking you. 

And I hope the Greeks were wrong about eros, because I'm not kidding - if I had a house by the sea filled with music, art, literature, and things of nature; that if Miss M was strong and happy and healthy; that I got to take a lot of trips and loved my job in ways I can only dream about right now...I'm quite certain I'd never get bored with any of that. I don't think I'd start to wish for other things instead. I do think I'd find other things to wish for, but I wouldn't wish for more or instead of what I'd gotten. I think I'd be pretty fucking happy and I think if I had any further longings beyond what I had, it would be to find a way to help other people have their longings come true. 

.......and maybe someone out there is reading all of this, going: be grateful for what you do have; someone else out there wishes they had what you do. And they'd be absolutely right. Unless they'd seen me last Thursday or Friday. And then I think they'd probably want to get themselves a different set of desires. Quandries of being human.

But I think longings, desires, are a lot different from dreams. Dreams are wishes. Longings are possibilities. I'm all about possibilities right now, not dreams. 

Christopher Poindexter! I have no idea who he is, but he's all over Pinterest.
And sometimes he's got quotes that encapsulate how I feel.

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