I was thinking today, and certainly not for the first time, about why I sometimes feel so compelled to write. It always comes out sounding cheesy or exaggerated, but the truth is recently I have been moved to write because I have to. There is no other way to explain it. I have something in me that I want to express. But then the question becomes, why? What do I hope my words, thoughts, images will do or be once they’re out there?
Coincidentally, I started reading Edmonton poet Alice Major’s stunning book of essays, Intersecting Sets: A Poet Looks at Science. One of her passages in an essay titled “That Frost Feeling” discusses that intangible feeling of wanting to create art, and wanting to consume it. The why of writing, visual art, dance and music. Major calls that “particular tickle in the human brain”, the one that makes us want to create art, and want to experience it, a kind of “yearning.” She says “we want to evoke it in others, to make it resonate in someone else’s mind.”
The idea resonated with me. But sometimes there is so much more than an idea to be conveyed. It’s the very feeling you want to share. An essence of an experience, imagined or real. What you yearn for and what you want others to yearn for too.
The word yearning on its own is an ugly word. Said out loud, it just doesn’t sound that pleasant. It doesn’t roll nicely off of or around your tongue. It’s only in the meaning — the recollection of how it feels to yearn — that it really starts to flourish. Yearning, to me, is a wondrous blend of love and heartbreak. The desire for something, and the ache, the wrench of the heart, because our needs are not met. Now. As we want them to be.
To yearn is more than to need. It’s more than a wish or a hope, or even a desire. To yearn is a kind of beautiful hurt. That razor thin line between pleasure and pain. The edge just before rapturous delight. To yearn is to feel a kind of ecstasy. Words are for me, both in creation and consumption, an amazing route to bliss. If I am inspired, I want to inspire. If I am moved, I want to move. It’s contagious. Or at least I hope it can be. It’s not an intellectual pursuit. It’s a soul pursuit. Perhaps there is no need to question what my soul just knows.