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Longing

 

I live in a constant state of longing, for safety and comfort, for love, for excitement, for satisfaction, for a lot of things. Longing is both the engine that keeps me going, and the pain that keeps me stuck. There are some things that help for a little while, like: chocolate frosting, puppy kisses, therapy. I keep thinking that a publishing contract would help a lot, because I want to know for sure that my books will be published, not to make a million dollars, just to be sure that people will get the chance to read my work. Because one of my biggest longings is to be heard, and understood.

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“What is Mommy doing here? Why isn’t she scratching me?”

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“You’ll get used to it.”

I think that I use the word longing, rather than anticipation, though, because I don’t really believe these needs will ever be filled. I am afraid that I will never get what I want; but I’m also afraid that I will get what I want, and it will disappoint me, or overwhelm me. I’m often longing for things I’ve never had, rather than things I’ve had in the past, and maybe that’s why it feels like the longing is hopeless.

Longing for things is an intense feeling, it’s not like wanting, or appreciating, or expecting; it’s painful and has a doomed, melodramatic feel to it. There’s a push pull in longing, a sense of opposites fighting it out; I long for food and weight loss, companionship and time alone, work and rest. Longing feels like keening sounds, as if there’s a wounded animal trapped in my chest. Which, I guess, there is.

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Miss Butterfly

Longing isn’t like liking. I like Caesar salad, or PB&J sandwiches, or lentil soup, but I long for a chocolate sundae with whipped cream and chocolate fudge. Longing has a level of guilt to it as well, and density, and overwhelming-ness. Longing doesn’t really lend itself to a happy-go-lucky life where you can take or leave things and just accept your lot in life.

Longing implies that there is something so much better out there, so much more satisfying, and that it is worth trekking through mountains, and ice, and fire to get to it. It implies desperation. I feel like that describes me too well, because I don’t know how to seek and accept the B+ version of my life. I’d almost rather suffer, and fail to reach my goals, than accept a life I haven’t been longing for.

I’ve worked hard to change this; to accept that most experiences will be mixed, and that very few will feel wholly satisfying. But, sometimes, I think my longing acts as a safeguard, a way to keep me from accepting things that I won’t be able to live with long term. A voice in my head is always looking around and saying, I don’t know what I do want, but I know I don’t want that.

When I watch Cricket and Ellie’s excitement – at going out for a walk, eating chicken, playing with a toy – I want to feel like that. I like spending time with the dogs, I even love it, but I long to have Butterfly back. I like doing jigsaw puzzles, and eating cherries (though the season is clearly over and the crispy, sweet, juicy cherries have been replaced with zombie cherries, and the thrill is gone), but I long for the chance to feel healthy enough to go for a run, and actually run full out.

Maybe I just long to be Cricket, instead of just being around her. I long to feel joy with the intensity that she feels it: ears flying in the wind, every thought absent except, “I’m flying!!!!!”

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(I wouldn’t want to eat chicken treats, though. They seem like they’d be very hard to chew.)

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“I’ll take the chicken treats, if you really don’t want them.”

 

 

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

94 responses »

  1. Rachel, you remind me of the heroines in stories like Wuthering Heights. I say, go for it!

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  2. Well I would certainly buy your books. Your writing is great. I tried cat food when I was kid once and it’s yucky.

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  3. Another thoughtful piece, Rachel, and your dog additions are priceless!

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  4. You’re an amazing writer!

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  5. I watched the cherries move up the West Coast, reaching their perfection in Eastern Washington which I figured would be the end. Then a little bag of wonderful ones from British Columbia. A real surprise for the grand finale. May some of your longings turn into reality. Like the cherries, reality comes in seasons. But what a treat.

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  6. Do you know Rachel, every Saturday I look so forward to your writing. You’re honest and funny and make me think of so very many things worth thinking of. You were the very first person on WordPress to believe in me enough to take a chance on me. I will always treasure you for that. I cannot wait to read your books. Take care, suzanne ❤️

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  7. What a wonderfully thoughtful and well written post. Not to mention the adorable photos. My own puppy is such an enormous source of joy, and clearly yours is too.
    I’m with you 100% on wanting my writing to be published not for the money, but for the opportunity to share my stories. Best of luck to you.

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  8. I love the joy shown in the pic of Cricket in the snow.

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  9. Beautifully written. I know the longing 🙂

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  10. Nice action shot of the Cricket in full flight.

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  11. This is a wonderful post, Rachel. I can very much relate 😊

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  12. Kathrin King Segal

    ‘Zombie cherries.’ LOL This is so insightful. Consider self-publishing your other works. Fuck the publishing industry. It’s so 20th century. 🙂

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  13. Wonderful post, Rachel. Let your longing fuel you, keep you working at your goals, your life, your purpose. Beautifully put together post, moving. Thank you.

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  14. Just last week I heard of Neal Stephenson for the first time. He is a successful writer in your country. Writes in the Cyberpunk sub genre of Science Fiction. I had never heard of Cyberpunk before that, though I did read a lot of Science Fiction years ago. I found a talk of his on youtube and watched all of it; almost an hour. He seems like a very interesting writer, with a good sense of humor. At the end of his talk, people asked him questions. One woman asked him if he has any advice for beginning writers. He said, my advice is instead of spending two years running around to publishers after writing your first book, better to write another book. Keep writing, because writing is like any other craft; the more you do it, the better you get at it. I think that’s very good advice. I think it might be worth your while to start publishing your fiction writing on a separate page of your blog. So that people can get to know your story telling, even though we can get to know your style in your blogging as well. I agree with Kathrin Segal. Nowadays, a blog can be a good vehicle to publishing, if you just do it. It’s a gateway that is already open for you. Wishing you success and the fruition of your desires, Rachel.

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  15. I love the way you describe longing. Like it hurts. Life is a delicious blend of ups and downs. Unless you’re Cricket with your ears flying. Love that photo.

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  16. There is always guilt in real longing, which you express so well. I have reached that age where I feel that I am still longing for something, but doubly frustrated because I don’t know what it is I am longing for.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  17. Such an honest, heartfelt, painful post

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  18. I guess most of us crave for something we haven’t got in abundance – especially those non-materialistic things like love, respect and appreciation. Interesting post!

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  19. Thank you for this. You articulated some of my feelings, although I call mine depression, because I’m pretty sure I won’t get what I long for and am not even sure how to try. But after reading this, I will try more for longing and work for what I want. That said, I would also like to experience the joy and contentment enjoyed by dogs (I positively MUST get a dog! I’ve been dogless since Spunky died over a year ago). I think it is about moments. I have had the “I’m flying!” sort of thing during along run. I wasn’t flying, of course, and I think my thoughts were, “I LOVE to run!” I hope you find a moments of joy. And I love your dog pictures.

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  20. So pleased to see the dogs settling down together Rachel.
    I wish I could have my Dad for just five minutes to hug him and tell him how much I love and miss him. I would love to be able to hold my Mum close, breathe in her scent, and tell her again how much I wish I had been able to visit more often than I did. I made sure I hugged her every time I saw her, and told her I loved her every time we spoke.
    I wish my efforts at losing weight paid off and my mood swings balanced out so that I wasn’t grumpy so often. I wish Hubby had a break with his health issues and for once be able to enjoy his food without the worry of a sleepless night due to reflux, or go for a leisurely walk without having to take pain meds as soon as he gets home.
    I am content with what we have and the way we live, but it would be nice to have it a little easier perhaps. Have a good week.

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  21. Always love reading your posts, esp this one really touches home. Hope you get a publishing contract, your writing surely deserves it.

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  22. Think positively, Rachel.
    You are published every time you click the WordPress button that brings your thoughtful words and lovely photos to your many followers I see commenting before me right here. This is an empathetic, appreciative audience.
    Not a thing you mention in your longings sounds unattainable. Look at life around you. People have found love, success, moderation in diet and exercise … even new cherished pets (hello Cricket and Ellie!).
    Have a good day, and maybe start with a little bit of getting.

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  23. Each time I read your posts, I scold myself for not checking your blog weekly. I enjoy your writing and love how you get your points across. I understand your longing to be published and your inquisitive longing to be Cricket. Dogs do have such a great way of showing joy, sadness and loyalty. Why not self-publish?

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  24. I wish there was a “love” button on FB – this is my favorite of all your posts yet (and I am quite a fan)! And I know what you mean about longing to be Cricket … I have come to realize I am so much like my Scruffy (ADD – no focus or hyper-focused, stubborn)… but if I could just have his joyous energy in just being alive each day!

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  25. This is a beautiful post, Rachel. And from the response, you have such a huge thoughtful group of supporters. I hope that whatever the outcome is that you achieve the happiness you wish for and deserve.

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  26. This reminded me of my main takeaway from Buddhism — our attachment to objects is what leads to unhappiness. Or Wiki says: “The Four Truths express the basic orientation of Buddhism: we crave and cling to impermanent states and things, which is dukkha, “incapable of satisfying” and painful.” I like the way you put words together!

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  27. “Longing has a level of guilt to it as well”. Yeah, because it is not being satisfied with what we have. It is always wanting something more or something different and not accepting and appreciating what is. It is almost like giving a finger to God. Saying that what he has given us and where we are right now is not good enough for us. And as if we know better than Him, because we believe the thing(s) we long for are what we need to make us happy. We want MORE, we want different, we want exciting, we want adventure. Hmmmmm . . . . interesting. Seems like I have to get over it and get on with it! Thanks!

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  28. I understand completely! You only one step away just take it! 😊

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  29. We all experience longing, usually for what we don’t have…it’s part of the human condition. It can be very painful, but it can also stimulate our creativity (as it obviously does for you!) I guess I think that it’s better to live with the longing than to try to numb it…that’s when our lives can become content but empty ones. Very nice piece as always!

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  30. No one lives in the moment like dogs. I aspire to think like one when I grow up.

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  31. I’m longing for you to know Cricket’s joy, too!

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  32. Lovely post.. longing can be desire, wishing, hoping, and having willful ambition towards other goals or desires.. maybe dreaming of things is longing.. a kind of hunger to change, to move along.. got me thinking, and that’s always a good thing 😉

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  33. Don’t grow weary of doing good as you do with your blog, and in due course, you will reap for love is following you close by, just turn and embrace it.

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  34. I love reading your posts.

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  35. Reblogged this on Beyond the Flow and commented:
    So many of us can relate to that desperate, all-consuming sense of longing. It’s the force which pull us along towards our goals and dreams and the very same force which grips us in a vice. We fail, we suffer. But what if we succeed? Can we ever be satisfied? I thought you would appreciate Rachel’s great post into our longings xx Rowena

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  36. Hi Rachel,
    Great to catch up. I’ve been feeling much longing myself lately so your post was very well timed. I love the photo of cricket flying through the snow…such an energetic soul.
    I have been grappling with my violin practice and progress again lately but am starting to get back on deck. I do love it when it cooperates and makes a perfect note.
    Hope things are going well for you and the dogs.
    xx Rowena

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  37. I must be quite like you, the word longing is one I use often and totally understand your feelings.

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  38. Lovely blog Rachel. From the heart. Beautiful photograph of that gorgeous Cricket soaring over the snow. Such happiness.

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  39. Rachel you are an amazing writer and the way you express yourself is so connectable! I would love to read a book written by you… way to go girl! And not to miss your love for dogs is so infectious.. I am in awe of them😍

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  40. You expressed yourself so well.

    Thanks

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  41. Cricket has beautifully expressive eyes. No captions needed for most of those pictures.

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  42. Believe in yourself, you need not long for anything, sometimes just putting your hands out in expectation is enough to show you that in the longing you were really worth the receiving xxx
    Carry on writing and believing, your longing will be filled.

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  43. You are doing something very special in this many- layered cry from the heart. I need to read it again… and perhaps again. How thoughtfully your readers have responded: that is a tribute to your writing and your honesty.

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  44. You’re writing is some of the best stuff, Rachel. You really do have a way with your words…

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  45. Beautiful…. I am sure like for me, your words resonated in others….particularly those who without having the words to describe the feelings you share…..know only too well the feelings. 💙

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  46. I love the picture in the snow! Your writing is great! Thank you very much for visiting my page!

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  47. Is longing an antonym for contentment? When will the longing end and the doing and being begin?

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