Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Rainy Day Musings ~ On Living and Longing

On a rainy afternoon, I pulled two books from the bookshelf and curled up on the couch. With a cup of strong coffee for company, it was going to be a morning of pleasant reading.

The first book I chose was Creating Character Emotions, by Ann Hood. I’ve been told by a circle of friends and colleagues (misguided though they are) that I should try my hand at writing fiction, before I fade into the sunset. Truth is, I have written and published a minimal amount of fiction, but I don’t have enough imagination to write consistent, great fiction, and the desire to write fiction is not strong enough to get me moving in that direction. Still … I thought I’d take a look inside the book anyway, as many fiction writing techniques are most helpful when writing non-fiction. What could it hurt?

And that was my undoing.

I opened Creating Character Emotions, and it fell to page 108—a chapter outlining how to evoke “longing” in a character.

“Longing,” Hood writes, “is a persistent yearning or desire that cannot be fulfilled. Therefore it has, inherent in it, a sadness, almost a mourning. It is what we feel for a lost love; or for a different, perhaps happier, time in our lives; or for people who are far away, or unreachable. We long to be younger, more innocent, more in love, more carefree.”

Upon reading that passage, and without warning, a host of longings rushed to the surface for a hearing. Being the usually contented soul that I am, this surprised me. What was going on?

On closer inspection, I recognized some of the longings from a previous visitation; they tend to show up about once a year or so. Others weren’t so easy to pin down. But what started as a promising day of quiet reading, soon became a melancholy meltdown. I would read a while, then sigh a while—sometimes audibly. But it felt oddly okay—like watching a sad movie over and over, even though I know certain parts will make me cry. I watch it anyway. It’s a good cry, as my daughter used to call it. To try and hold it in only hurts my throat.

I’m happy to report that by nightfall, I had recovered. Reality returned. I used to admonish my daughter—whenever she would pine about something or other—that she had to deal with what is. She would argue but why didn’t so-and-so do thus-and-so? I would stop her and say, “Sweetie, you have to forget what isn't. You have to deal with what is … right here and now.”

When all is said and done, we can’t go back in time. There is no rewind button. We can only move forward, living fully in the present. And we shouldn’t spoil it by longing for things we cannot have and, in most cases, simply do not need.

Until next time, dear friends, I hope you're high and dry wherever you are. Please say a prayer for our area. Although we are safe and sound, we're once again experiencing rains and flooding and have friends who have lost pretty much everything.

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16 comments:

  1. You've written yet another post that was for me. Hugs and love to my dear Sister/Friend.

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    1. I love you, sister/friend. It seems we are often on the same page, if you know what I mean.

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  2. thank-you. In a week from today I turn fifty and I am battling, though I consider myself very content, unnamed Longing for those things that never were and can never be, because that era has passed where long I held out hope for those maybes. Now all I can do is focus on the Maybes that may still be:)

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    1. Dear Janet, I can relate so very well to your comment. There are days when such thoughts can be overwhelming, thinking of all that cannot be now, and I guess that a certain amount of longing is just part of human nature. I've heard it's never too late for dreams to come true, but I beg to differ. That may be true for some dreams, but for others, that ship has already sailed.

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  3. Thinking of you and praying for sunshine and blue skies in your life once more. Xo

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  4. I often long for that rewind button but worry about a domino effect of changed decisions. So for now I'll take your wise advice - "right here and now.”

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  5. Oh...I know just what you mean. There are days when I nearly need to slap myself back into reality. I don't camp there often but on days when I do, I really wonder why...and I have never really been able to put my finger on a specific reason. I started my first blog about my childhood memories for that vey reason. Somehow, it kept me connected to my family who all live quite a distance from me and writing about them took me back to those days...and a way to escape the aging process a bit, I'll admit. Regrets, yes I have many...but you are right, we can only go forward. Somehow, knowing that I am not alone in this boat is quite encouraging. Thank you for writing this really great post. Praying the rain lets up sooner than soon.

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  6. I need to hear what you say to your daughter on many days. Why did they do that? Why didn't they do this? In reality, I know I can't change a thing and trying to work out those scenarios in my head isn't really helping anything. So thank you for the words of wisdom.

    I'm so sorry to hear about the flooding again. Praying for your town and your friends.

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  7. I'm glad God understands and helps us in our longings, despite how futile they may be.

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  8. Once again, you've shared emotions all this time I thought were solitary (or plain weird). Hood's excerpt (para. #5) defines much of what I'm feeling lately.
    I'm so blessed to know, there are others here in Blogland experiencing similar emotions.

    Prayers for Texas!

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  9. Those longings -- what I call homesick feelings -- sure do come in the most unexpected moments. Can totally relate.

    One thing I have found helpful when those show up, if they are persistent and there is a more definite feeling of loss or homesickness, I will bring these to the Lord, with the confidence of a little child that He will keep these for me and safe guard what my heart yearns for -- whether it's lost dreams or unfulfilled ones. Somehow that helps me feel right again. All is well, all shall be well. I can wait ... carry on ... till then.

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart today. And I'm glad you have found your pleasant path again. Sending prayers for those in your region. Such an upside down world weather-wise ... we've been praying FOR rain here and you're hoping for less.

    Wishing you a beautiful day, Dayle!
    Brenda
    xox

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    1. PS. What I should clarify is that some dreams might never come true here in this life, but our hearts will one day be utterly fulfilled when He comes to make it all right. Till then I know He carries those longings close to his own heart and that comforts me greatly.

      A wonderful quote by Kazuo Ishiguro (author of The Remains of the Day) sets things in order for me too:

      "There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one."

      xox

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    2. Brenda, your words have really helped me. Thank you! And "The Remains of the Day" is one of my favorite movies.

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  10. Thank you for the quote. It was thought provoding. How true there is no rewind button in life. At times I wish there were. Hope the rain holds up in Texas and sunny skies appear soon.

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  11. Interesting that your friends would want you to write fiction. I've heard the same whispers, but I've always loved to read (and write) non-fiction. I love hearing your real thoughts and longings. Fiction somehow seems . . . I don't know, I don't want to say, "fake" but "frivolous" isn't right either. I just love your voice and know it's authentic. Then again . . . Scarlett O'Hara was totally cool, and someone once told me she wasn't real. Hmmm.

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Dear Readers, I adore your company and your comments. If you ask questions here, I respond to them here, so please check back when you have a chance. Kind regards, Dayle