Last week we talked about our yearnings, and I made the fairly scandalous declaration that your YEARNINGS are pointing you toward your own magic.
This makes sense, surely, if you long for things like justice, freedom, clean water, and worldwide healing. If you yearn to be a human rights attorney or a yoga teacher, you’re in luck. Those things get virtue stickers.
But what if you long for something FRIVOLOUS?
Something– kind of– embarrassing?
Well let me tell you some stories.
In 2010, when I was living in Tokyo and wearing suits every day, I began longing for a very specific couch. It was a couch from Ikea, sweet and simple, with cream-colored slipcovers covered in pink cabbage roses. It wasn’t expensive, as furniture goes. But it was an absolute impossibility.
At the time, I was sharing a life and an apartment with someone who was definitely not into pink rose couches. In fact, our apartment was sleek and modern, with a distinct Mad Men vibe, 16 floors up in the sky. Our space was all industrial grey tweed and dark antique wood, ironic movie posters and mustard yellow accents. Our space was cool. This couch was romantic, charming, cozy– not cool.
So my pink ruffled cabbage rose yearnings made me angry– at myself. That didn’t FIT into this life. (Never mind that I myself didn’t fit into that life very well– it pinched horribly around the edges, particularly in my soul.) But there I was, dressing in sharp jackets and heels, taking the subway all over Tokyo, and longing for a couch that looked like it belonged in a shabby chic white cottage in rural England. I was exasperated with my silly self.
Then came the earthquake that changed my whole life.
And suddenly I was in Portland with my daughter and a suitcase, putting down a deposit on a tiny one-bedroom apartment, certain it was temporary, scrounging together a whole household from scratch and finding myself in need of– yes– a cheap couch. This new and tiny apartment was from the 1920s, with french windows and black and white tile on the kitchen floor. You know what would look perfect in there? Some shabby chic things from all the local vintage stores, and a fresh new little cream couch covered in pink flowers.
And so the cabbage roses came to live with me, and I bloomed like they did.
Then a new yearning arrived, a bad one.
It was mortifying. I longed for something truly awful– a sparkly ring. Not just any ring, mind you– a vintage DIAMOND one. Yes, it had to be diamond. No, cubic zirconia would not do. No, I did not know why. I just knew it to be true. (But conflict diamonds! And saving for retirement! Had I no morals?)
I was a happily single solo mom who craved the ridiculous (but so pretty!) symbol of a married woman.
Oh, I was horrified by myself. I wanted to be someone else; someone who longed for cooler, nobler things. But what I craved was that bit of sparkle on my hand that said that just because I was single didn’t mean I was worth less. That I got to create as much beauty as I wanted in my life. That I didn’t have to wait for a partner to give it to me.
That ring came to be one of the most powerful symbols of my whole life. It was an act of claiming myself.
I called it my EFBA ring, and eventually– oh hilarious irony– it became my engagement ring when shortly thereafter, I unexpectedly fell in love with my beloved.
That ring showed me who I wanted to be; who I was becoming. I’ve learned to take these yearnings seriously.
Sometimes my clients will tell me that they have a new and intense desire to go out and change their entire look; to cut their hair and throw out everything in their closet and start completely new. Or suddenly they hate every bit of furniture in their house; they’re obsessed with a blue velvet sofa or can’t stop fantasizing about painting everything white. They are often rather sheepish about these desires, which seem frivolous or beside the point when they’re navigating big seasons in their lives– but I always know that these are signposts, bits of their own inner map piping up helpfully to squeal, “Take a hard left!” or “Straight ahead, due north!” These yearnings for seemingly surface-level changes are almost always signs of a deep and sacred sea change taking place inside of them. They’re signs of something big and beautiful being ready to be born. And they often show up as a longing for a particular flavor of beauty.
Goodness knows that making changes in the physical world can shift our energy in powerful, dare I say even MAGICAL, ways.
So take your own yearnings seriously, even if you can’t figure out where they’re taking you. That part isn’t your job to figure out. I certainly never thought that my yearnings would take me from Tokyo to Portland, from single to married, to Canada and becoming a mom of five! I NEVER could have planned out that life trajectory. And yet here I am, not because I could see where it was all leading, but because each yearning shaped me, honed and strengthened me; changed me just enough that I was ready for what came next.
So I wonder– what are you yearning for?
What sacred inner shift is trying to get your attention with a nudge toward a particular color? What sweet thing in your life is calling you to itself with an obsession for crocheting? What new inner confidence or resolve is trying to take form as a new wallet, or a song you can’t get out of your head, or an unflatteringly bright red lipstick? Don’t dismiss your own yearnings as silly; they have an unhappy habit of getting louder and angrier when we do that, and morph from tender longings to insistent knocks– they’ll get our attention any way they can, you see. So greet them eagerly when they’re all tender and misty-eyed; it’ll go easier.
I’ll tell you my current and most sheepish yearning: the BRAMBLY HEDGE books. I am enthralled with those little mice and their cozy habitats. I am delighted by their old-fashioned bedrooms and pies and red berries. I crave raspberry bracken and crackling fires and bubbling tureens and pantries full of acorns. I don’t know where this is leading me– well, to be perfectly honest I do have an inkling, but I’m not quite ready to say it out loud yet– but I know that figuring that part out isn’t my job.
My job is much simpler: to simply follow my yearning.
This weekend, this looks like getting on the couch, curling up in a blanket, and losing myself in some whimsical children’s book illustrations. And to take time to create moments of coziness in my own life as it is right now– with fires, cups of cocoa, snug beds and conversations by candlelight– to give myself the essence of what I’m craving. Which is about being HOME in some way I don’t quite have words for yet. (And which is already tugging all sort of things into new shapes; see my P.S., below.)
What if you tried it this weekend? Just giving yourself a little taste of whatever it is you’re yearning for. You don’t have to assign it a deep meaning, or understand its symbolic significance… though you probably will, you literary kindred spirit, you.
Let your life show you things. Metaphors abound. So does magic.