What is true, heartfelt desire?
This is one of those big questions without concrete answers.
And after writing yesterday about a certain kind of wanting — that insistent drumbeat going on around us all the time — I feel compelled to write about true, heartfelt desire.
Because I believe in the power of desire. And I’m pretty sure that desire is quite different from wanting, at least for me.
Wanting often feels like hard pushing, striving, being attached to the outcome.
Desire feels more like being swept away, surrendering, letting go of the need to know exactly where it will take me.
In the throes of deep desire, you feel captured by what you love. You take a few steps toward it, and it reels you in.
Sometimes you’re not sure what’s propelling the forward movement: you or it. Sometimes, as you connect with it, you even lose track of where you leave off and it begins.
Desire, in its most elemental form, is the swirling life force: love, fascination, passion, curiosity, pleasure, coupling.
Be the passion vine.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with Dave a few summers ago. We were out in the garden and he’d been admiring the passion vines. He said, “If anyone ever doubts the power of the life force, they should just go spend some time with those passion vines.”
I love the symbol of the passion vine as a teacher of true desire.
The passion vine grows toward the sun with wild abandon. It’s captured by those structures that support its growth: a trellis, an arbor, an old table, the side of the house, a tree. It can’t really do it alone, and needs help to proceed with its vigorous desire for sun and light.
It’s also really good at pushing out beyond its boundaries, and surrendering to its desire. Reaching. Twining. Wrapping.
But it can burn itself out too. Its passion to go toward what it loves can be so furious that it wipes out its support. The weight of the vine causes the arbor or trellis to fall to the ground, broken. And the passion vine falls with them, spent. Covering itself up and cutting off further growth.
So I help it along by trimming it back before it collapses. (Well, except for that one time I neglected it and it crashed to the ground.)
I know this is what it wants, though. How do I know? Because as my trusty electric pruner releases the first layer, we get to the old dried out buds and tendrils and leaves underneath. The passion vine revives as they begin to fall away.
Suddenly it’s lighter. Freer. Ready to grow again with wild abandon. Ready to be swept away by its desires.
What does desire need?
Maybe desire, like the passion vine, needs support, along with a continuing cycle of growth and replenishment. By doing a little careful pruning now and then, we’re able look underneath and ask, “What is the desire beneath the desire?” That helps us tune out the constant drumbeat of wanting that I wrote about yesterday, and drop down into what’s real and true.
Of course, we all have unique and very personal desires. You can experience desire and love for people, places, ideas, work, feelings, values. Anything, really.
I know the passion vine loves sun and air and water and space and support.
And me? I love stories and creativity and deep connection and natural beauty.
And you? What are your most heartfelt desires? What captures you and pulls you toward it?
What is the desire beneath the desire?
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