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A Place of Yearning

Wherever we are, we are always, it seems, in the same place–a place of yearning. Yearning to rest, yearning to work; yearning to be someone better, yearning to do something great. Yearning to be relevant and yearning to be invisible, unburdened. Yearning to finally start, yearning to finish. Yearning to be free and yearning to love. Even in our moments of supreme happiness and contentment, there are flashes of how it could be better if…

Exhibit A: I was lying down on my yoga mat on the terrace, sunbathing as I do every morning now (vitamin D vs COVID-19, people), when I heard the determined singing of a bird. I scanned my mother’s plants, then the spots where my two-year-old niece Nami leaves biscuits for her bird friends; I finally found it perched on our metal sliding door–the little sparrow belting out like it was in a karaoke bar. I don’t know if it sensed a human watching but it stopped singing, glanced at me, and flew off. And I laughed at such snotty behavior. I thought, oh how nice it would be to be a sparrow just fluttering off to wherever, whenever. Think of all the air miles I’d save travelling if I were that bird. Then I thought, how long will a tiny bird like that have to fly to reach, say, Japan or Switzerland? That must be exhausting. So I decided, it’s better to be a big bird, an eagle. That wingspan should cut my travel time by at least half. And then I wondered, what else does an eagle do besides fly and arrive? That must be exhausting, too, and eventually, boring. Plus, birds don’t drink coffee when it rains or wear boots in autumn, two of my favorite things to do.

And so I’m back to being a human sprawled on a mat, staring at the sky, thinking weird thoughts before breakfast. I hear a Korean song blasting downstairs, Nami singing along with her garbled lyrics; sisters discussing plans for the day, which really isn’t much when you’re in the middle of a pandemic; parents (mother, mostly) badgering each other about eating food they should not eat. And I am here, wrapped in sunshine, relishing my alone time.

Do I yearn for more than I have right now, in this place? Bien sur. I mean, who doesn’t? There are days when you want more money–loads and loads of it–to give to every relative, friend and stranger in need, and to buy all those beach lots and farms and finally build that cottage. Some days, you want more time–for yourself, for your kids, for your hobbies; time to make memories or make reparations, time to do nothing and everything.

Do I yearn to be more “successful” by the standards we have all imposed on ourselves? Occasionally. There are moments when you think, I could have more, be more, do more. Or I could’ve been this and that, like him or her, if only I had or hadn’t… Maybe I would feel better if I were achieving and becoming. But then if I were someone else in some other place, who’s to say I wouldn’t yearn to be where I am now, sunbathing at 10 a.m., listening to birdsong, writing, collecting my thoughts, knowing that what I do with my day is up to me (there are deadlines, yes, but we can handle that).

Being confined in a space for so long, stuck with our deepest longings, we realize that wherever we find ourselves in life, we take that place of yearning with us. Recognizing this has given me some kind of permission to not be OK with where I am some days; it has also given me immense gratitude to not be where I might have been if life had dealt me worse cards. My biggest and constant yearning now is to not waste my time here, to not be so preoccupied with what could be that I miss what is. I want to live with the purpose God had in mind when He formed me and numbered my days. At the core of all our yearnings, I think, is the desire to be what we were meant to be. The question now is–what is that?

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