Calm. That is how I feel. My feet firmly planted in front of this iconic Parisian bookstore. Last night was tumultuous. I had an awful bout of food poisoning. Don and I argued over my latest plan: Occupy Shakespeare and Company. He warned me, “You might get us thrown in jail!” Yep, that is what he said.
Still, I persisted.
For months, my book publisher contacted the bookstore. He pitched the idea of me giving a book reading. My media guy, Keith Kelly, also contacted them. Management never said “no.” They also never said “yes.” So here I stand after leading two Women Writing to Unfold in Paris retreats. They culminate with this reading.
This story has more twists and turns than a roller coaster at Disneyland. I will save it for another time. For now, let us focus on longing.
What is longing?
It is not a function of thinking. Not an idea like “wouldn’t it be nice if…” It comes in a flash or a sensation, or an image. Longing is an inkling, a whisper. It may not make sense. We might have a challenging time explaining it to others or even to ourselves.
Why is it so difficult to trust longing?
We live in our thinking mind. A mind that is taught and shaped through culture. Longing comes from our souls. Often it is not in alignment with cultural expectations.
I am not drawn to play the piano. Basketball never called to me. I do not long to knit a beautiful sweater or climb Mount Everest. I admire people who do. I respect the effort it takes to make all these a reality. They are not mine.
I seek to offer deep, soul-touching writing. I want you to be better off by reading my words. I also come alive when I sit with women as they claim who they are.
That is the shape of my longing.
What is the shape of your longing?
It does not have to be some grandiose thing. Notice where you are drawn. Do you want to be fully present to friends and family? Do you desire to spend hours in nature? Recently in a retreat, a woman shared her deep ache to have a dog. Who knows where that might lead her? It is in those simple things where we meet ourselves. Pay attention to your inklings.
We do not always know what we want until we dare to step forward and trust our longing. It will not be easy. It will be satisfying. A unique expression of you is ready to unfold. Who you are waits inside of you, like the oak inside the acorn. If you give what is there beneficial growing conditions, you will unfold more of who you are.
My Occupy Shakespeare and Company campaign was a success. But not at all what I expected. I did read in front not inside the bookstore. A small crowd did gather. Several women hung on every word. I felt them pulling for me.
That little girl part of me wants to be heard. She was not heard as a child. That day in Paris was different. I was heard.
My reading ends, a woman walks up to me. She looks me straight in the eye and says, “Thank you for doing that. I needed to hear your words.” I do not know what my message means for her, but it does mean something. My words touched another woman who may find the courage to follow her own longing.
The adult me longed for recognition as a “real author.” But recognition was not what I received. I got something better. Heartfelt appreciation!
What is the shape of your longing?
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