The Blue of Longing

When I hear the words “the blue of longing,” I am transported to a dusty red four-speed Toyota that doesn’t have air conditioning, and I’m driving west across South Dakota.  It’s August and there’s a cassette tape playing since no radio stations will tune in without static.  After miles of corn fields give way to miles of grassy pasture; after the Missouri river valley gives way to rolling tall grass prairie; after I cross through the barren beauty of Badlands spires reaching toward the sky, after the signs for Wall Drug say, “wait, you missed it!”……after all of that I finally come to the place where the Black Hills loom in the distance, and I marvel at the sudden change in the horizon.  There is a reason these mountains are called what they are – when they appear in the windshield, it is like looking into layer upon layer of coal colored refreshment against the brightness of a late summer sky.  I am astonished at the majestic expanse that commands my sight lines and the welcoming darkness of what lays ahead.  Surely there is myth and magic to be found once I arrive at this oasis.  And then at some point as I continue on the westward journey, it’s gone.  Once I reach the point where identifying individual hills and trees is possible, the black has vanished and only the landscape remains.  They are just hills, now – beautiful and sacred as they always were, but the mystery that came with the space that was once between me and the place I sought is as gone as the distance that was closed to nothing.  And when I look up and out past the place where the hills give way to grasslands again, I can see hints of the next place that I seek, and the color that tints that desire to arrive.   The myth and magic remains just around the next corner.

Everyday we interact with others who are longing for something.  I might be so bold as to say that everyone reading this right now longs for something, too, whether that something feels completely unattainable or is as easy as walking down the hall for a cup of afternoon coffee.  The things that we want, the benefits that we hope to see come from our efforts in living a fulfilling life, the vision of success that we are working toward…it’s so easy to get caught up in the outcome. I tend to get drawn into the thinking of “making it” or “being successful with progress toward the goal” or “measuring notable progress.”  I doubt I’m alone.

And that makes me wonder what it would look like to just be with desire — to bear witness to it, to inhabit it fully, to not wish it away. There is something profound in truly feeling what we feel without trying to change it — In being right where we are right now, regardless the external circumstances or the progress that could potentially still be made.  I wonder what it would look like to just sit with a feeling, be it longing, or irritation or the urge to compose three emails at once and let it do its work in us, even if it’s uncomfortable or makes us look at something in our life that we’d rather not look at.  Maybe we would feel less stuck all the time.  Maybe we could then remember the beauty in the blackness of distant hills and let it carry us into whatever horizon might invite us in next.  Maybe we would find that the myth and magic is always within grasp, waiting for us to notice it.

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