Y is for Yearning

April 29, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Posted in Experiences, Family History, Mental Health, Philosophy, Ways of Living | 10 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]



I yearn for mountains

Yearning: noun: an intense or overpowering longing, desire, or need; craving (Collins English Dictionary)


I think we all, at times, yearn for something – a person, a place, a possession, a better life, more of something, to change the world. What we yearn for might be, or seem to be completely unrealistic, unattainable, or it may be something that just might be possible, given the right circumstances.


I have a dream


It is what we do with that yearning, I believe, that demonstrates to a large extent who and what we are.

One person has a desire for something and sets out to get it. He works towards it with all of his energy until he creates the right circumstances for the achievement of his desire.

My father was a man like this. Throughout his life, he strove to overcome the things that held him back from what he wanted. He yearned for a life free from the restrictions of the English social class system, for a land where there was freedom and opportunity. He tried for seven years before his application to emigrate to Australia was approved. He didn’t give up his dream, but did whatever he could to create the circumstances for it to happen.


Yearning -progress


Another person might think he yearns for something, but doesn’t put in a great deal of effort to attain it. He waits until things come together to make it happen, for something to “turn up”. That happens rarely of course, and one has to question the strength of a desire that is not worked towards. It to be appears to be more like “I’ll take it if it comes along, but I can’t be bothered to put in the effort myself”. It’s an airy wish, not a real desire.

Then there is the one whose yearnings for something or somewhere else is strong, but they can see no way for it to happen. He becomes discouraged, yet still dwells in that impossibility want, unable to see the possibilities in the life he could be leading in the present. He yearns for a past or a place where he believed he was once happy. That is nostalgia. It is unreality.




That was my mother, especially when things weren’t going well in life – financially, health-wise, or when undergoing some other difficulty. Her yearning was to go back to the place where she was born and grew up; where she’d met my father and where her first four children were also born. But financially it always seemed impossible.

In the mid-1970s, my father received an unexpected bequest from a deceased aunt. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to allow them to go back to Oswaldtwistle. They took a six-week holiday and travelled through Lancashire and Yorkshire as well. When the train from London arrived at Oswaldtwistle station and they got out, Mum looked around. She saw the dank, black-sooted stone buildings, the drizzle and the grey skies, and turned to Dad. “I want to go back home,” she said.


You can't go back


Returning after twenty years, she’d discovered it was not the place she remembered. Distance had sentimentalised the place and made it rosy. She only then realised how different and how much better was the clean, bright and sunny place they lived in Australia to this dreary and closed-in place she has focussed so much of her energy on. Her constant yearning had been completely misplaced.


There is no past we can bring back by longing for it. There is only an eternally new now that builds and creates itself out of the best as the past withdraws.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


My life-long yearning to write was impossible until I simply began to write. Now I am doing what I always wanted to do.

Yearning has both positive and negative aspects to it. We are much better off if we work towards our dreams of a better future, whatever we see it to be. To yearn for something in the past, something that is impossible to have, will often taint the present and destroy the future.


make a new beginning


Have you ever felt a yearning for something, to be someone or something else? How have you responded to it?


© Linda Visman  29.04.2014  (698 words)



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