What the Living Feel
Yearning is something the living all feel, but rarely discuss. It is more than just wanting. We want the dishes to be done, or we want for the plumber to come, but yearning is so much more than that. Marie Howe calls it “that yearning.” We yearn for our heart’s desire. We yearn to be loved, or we yearn to know the truth. We yearn for deeper things. For some, that could be something in the future, some kind of mark or destination. In the poem, Howe discusses the desire for springtime to come. This could be the longing for a new season of life. Spring brings a sense of renewal and rebirth. Perhaps what we yearn for is a fresh start and a second chance, an opportunity to start over. Those opportunities are few and far between, but we still yearn for another chance to do things. Perhaps the yearning is for time to pass more quickly. We want to move on with our lives to something more exciting. We want to move past a crisis or move on from grief. We yearn to come out of tragedy as a better person instead of a more broken one. Maybe the yearning is for someone, not something. Howe says, “We want whoever to call or not to call, a letter, a kiss.” This is the feeling of the sixteen-year-old girl who wants her boyfriend to call her at nine. It’s the grandfather who waits for a letter from his five-year-old grandson. It’s the army wife who can’t wait to kiss her husband when he steps off the plane from Afghanistan. It’s something more than just life; it’s someone to share it with. We want to be loved and wanted.
When we get what we’ve been yearning for, we cherish it. We hold it dear to our hearts. I cherish my dream of going to Africa and living a life of purpose. I love this dream of mine, and I hold on to it and protect it. We often cherish those things that we keep most secret about ourselves. Perhaps you are a closet poet, or maybe you are like me and behind closed doors you love to paint and draw. I cherish this about myself because it is a bit of a secret. It’s something that I do just for me. It’s mine, and I like it that way. Often, the thing that we cherish is a memory of a great moment in our life like a first kiss or graduating from college. We cherish these memories because they wont happen again. We can only have one first kiss and we hope that we won’t have to go back to school. We cherish these unique aspects and moments of our lives, because we cherish ourselves. It feels selfish to say that I cherish myself, but it’s true. I love my long, dark hair and my almost black eyes that hide behind it. Not because I’m conceited, but because I cherish my life and the things in it.
“I am living, I remember you.” Even though it such a simple phrase, it evokes so much emotion that I want to run home and hug my brother. It’s the thought that I am living, but perhaps someone I love is not. All I have left is a memory. It’s a sobering thought. At any moment I could go from the person doing the remembering, to the person being remembered. I live for now, as someone who walks down sidewalks, drinks coffee, and waits anxiously for springtime, but tomorrow that could all be over. The memory of Marie Howe’s brother is more than just a memory of his life; it’s a reminder to live life to the fullest.
I don’t care if the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, or that the heat’s on too high in the house, or that I just spilled coffee on my sleeve. Instead, I want to know what “that yearning” is, or I want to look in the mirror and decide what it is I cherish about myself, or perhaps I want to remember a life that has been lost. I forget where it was I was hurrying to, and I forget whom I was supposed to call. These things are so trivial in comparison to the bigger picture of what life is. Life is about finding someone who makes my heart stop aching. It is about looking in the mirror and liking what I see. However, perhaps the most important thing life is about, is that we, as the living, don’t take for granted that we are alive.