Oh I do love a bit of Thich Nhat Hanh. I recently discovered that the Vietnamese monk who brought us the mindful concept of “washing the dishes, to wash the dishes” has written about mindful love in his book “How to Love”.
It’s a beautiful read. It hits nails on relationship heads. But I was struck by this passage that points to a yearning, which I’ve written about before. This yearning is a deep sense that something is missing, a “something” that we long to connect with. It’s essentially a visceral longing to connect with our “real selves”. But we don’t always get this.
Nhat Hanh writes:
“Sometimes we feel empty; we feel a vacuum, a great lack of something. We don’t know the cause; it’s very vague, but that feeling of being empty inside is very strong. We expect and hope for something much better so we’ll feel less alone, less empty…
“Because we feel empty, we try to find an object of our love. Sometimes we haven’t had the time to understand ourselves, yet we’ve already found the object of our love. When we realize that all our hopes and expectations of course can’t be fulfilled by that person, we continue to feel empty. You want to find something, but you don’t know what to search for.”
Then he adds this clinger:
“That is why you check your email many times a day!”
Yes, this is why we check and toggle, searching for that “something we’re missing”. It’s obsessive and it’s unfulfilling. Like bobbing for apples. You never reach satiation because you don’t know what you’re searching for. And the lurching out – to emails, to strangers on Twitter, to beloveds – just takes us farther from what we’re missing.
Which is, of course, our real selves. Our real selves aren’t out there in cyberspace or on the couch next to us. They’re much closer. This is the direction we need to be heading in.
How’s your inwards journey treating you right now? A bit tough at this time of year, hey.