- (archaic) A longing or desire
- A natural tendency or affinity
Although, as with previous entries, initially encountered in Foyle’s Further Philavery, the above definition is taken from the OED which, unlike that book, lists both meanings.
What is interesting is the implicit link established between longing and desire and natural, potentially biological or innate, tendencies, inclinations and needs. We are capable of wanting things on a less physical, biological level. I can desire to do well on a certain assignment; I can fervently hope the postman arrives with my recorded delivery package before I need to leave the house. But the word ‘longing’ carries, at least to me, something more fundamentally physical. It would be misleading to say that the desire simply emerges from the biological needs and drives of our personal mechanism, but we feel it manifest itself in a physical presence, deeply entrenched in our fundamentally embodied existence.
That said, I wouldn’t claim to be particularly afflicted by such desires all that often. Bar certain spots of turmoil, for the most part my desires are typically higher order, more rational, or less pressing. And sometimes that’s rather annoying when it comes to decision-making. It seems, so often, to be easier to know what I do not want, either that which stirs up no bodily response, or to which my body acts in repulsion, or to know what rationally I recognise as undesirable or unlikely to be beneficial. Yet what threatens is a potentially unending process of elimination, in most cases beginning prior to even knowing all the options to consider.
If indeed there is any moral to all this, I’m willing to let you draw it for yourselves. For me, what is reaffirmed is the complexity of the self, our inability to wholly detach rationality from physicality, as the threads of these elements cross across each other and sustain and support each other in the complex fabric of our desires, personalities and motivations. Sometimes the challenge is working out which voices, which currents in ourselves, we should listen to and take as starting points for action. However, for me the challenge may also be simply remembering to be grateful for the times when it’s so clear, so indisputable, what I want, that even if I choose not to pursue it, I get one of my clearer insights into myself in that single, enmeshed, respect.