The Fire Of Desire
On a recent early morning, I sat on the floor beside my daughter Ella, writing in my journal as she stretched and bounced in a desperate and unsuccessful attempt to reach her favorite butterfly finger puppet. Aware of Ella’s growing frustration, I wrote about my own frustration with the speed at which I am moving toward one of my primary goals. Just as I wrote that, Ella’s persistence overcame the force of inertia and caused her to fly forward toward the butterfly, landing face down, sprawled out, right hand beside her intended target. Unharmed, but startled by the unexpecte manner in which momentum and gravity conspired to assist her desire, she began to whimper until I picked her up and, with a big smile, congratulated her on her courageous effort.
As a charter member of the “there are no coincidences school,” I could not ignore the timing of Ella’s face plant. How did her action relate to my frustration? Ella’s desire fueled her actions and propelled her forward toward her goal. Without the power of her desire, she probably would not have persisted, let alone, breached the barrier of inertia between her and the pink and yellow butterfly. A quick review of my goal revealed that the desire which had originally fueled me was hidden. I could feel its presence deep down inside me, but it was not actively fueling my intention.
Desire can be a scary thing. As children and young adults, we may have reached for what we wanted only to be rebuffed by parents and teachers and bosses. We discovered that it is easier, less disappointing, to keep our desires hidden from others. Unfortunately, from there it is far too easy for our desires to become hidden from ourselves.
In Crossing the Unknown Sea, David Whyte reminds us that the Latin root of desire is de sider or “of the stars.” He continues:
To have a desire in life literally means to keep your star in sight, to follow a glimmer, a beacon, a disappearing will-o’-the-wisp over the horizon into some place you cannot yet fully imagine. A deeply held desire is a star that is particularly our own; it might disappear for a while, but when the skies clear we catch sight of it again and recognize the glimmer.
My personal sky had clouded over and I had lost sight of the star of my desire. It was not that my goal was wrong, but rather that I had lost touch with the guiding, shining light of desire that had originally drawn me to it.
The path leading to our goals often requires a leap of faith along the way. And occasionally when we take that leap we end up flat on our face just like little Ella. We cannot always know the manner in which our goals will be realized. The Universe conspires to connect us with our dreams and desires in unknown and unknowable ways. The fear of that unknowing can cause us to swerve off course, to lose sight of our desires.
In pursuing my goal, I had run, full speed ahead, right up to the cliff-edge of the unknown, fully intent on taking that giant step. But at the last moment, when I saw how vast the chasm truly was, I balked and skidded to a halt, peering frightfully into the empty space before me. At that moment, I became disconnected from my desire and driven by less powerful forces–need, obligation–toward my goal. With Ella’s help, I found my way back to where the sky above me was clear, and I could, once again be guided by the star of desire.
You are the navigator on the journey towards your goals. And just as a navigator on an ocean voyage, you must constantly check your course. Are you still following your guiding star? Is the goal you are pursuing still aligned with your desire? The sky may cloud over at times or become stormy, but when it clears, remember to look up, to locate your guiding star and determine if you have stayed on course or drifted off.
Some months ago I received another valuable lesson from a wise teacher, this one a precocious seven year old girl. “What do you do?” she asked me. “I’m a life coach,” I said. “What’s that?” “I help people figure out how to get what they want,” I explained, adding, “how do you get what you want?” She gave me an answer that made me realize how truly complicated we adults make the simplest things. With a little shrug of her shoulders, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, she said, “I ask!”
As the bible says, “Ask and you shall receive. . .” But remember, you cannot ask for what you want if you do not know what that is. What do you want? What are your deepest heart’s desires? By discovering and following the star of your true desire you will find that your goals begin to fall easily and gracefully into place. Know what you want, ask for it, and the path will be opened for you to receive it!