How much of your story has involved yearning for something else, versus working with what you have?

When I was a teenager, I spent time in my grandparents’ house in Paris, Kentucky. It was a small house with one bathroom, which had a radio that was usually tuned to bluegrass music. One day, I heard the station play a song called “For Your Precious Love” by Jerry Butler and the Impressions. Hearing it triggered in me a desire to find a girl who could match the feeling the lyrics and music evoked. I longed to find a girl so special that the yearning that particular song created in me could be satisfied, and the song could become “our” song.

I learned over time that even if we do find that special someone, at some point, the reality of the other person emerges. The match no longer seems made in heaven but elsewhere. Then the reality of our lives, a reality that always stalks us, becomes inescapable. The way we deal with the intersection of reality and our idealized fantasies determines our happiness. How much of our happiness comes from within, and how much is determined by external circumstances?

Now when I listen to that old song, I feel nostalgia for the romantic teenager I was—the young man who was sure there was a “perfect” girl out there who would have no flaws and never disappoint me for a moment. Yet I also reconnect with that part of myself that knows at any moment, I can experience the sublime feeling the song evoked—by connecting with the partner I have now (my wife). I see that my yearnings, whatever they are, can be fulfilled if I take action and I accept that perfection is possible if I let go of the need to have it in every single moment. I wouldn’t appreciate that perfection if I didn’t experience imperfection. Now, I allow myself to be fully present in the perfection for as long as it lasts—and to be fully present in the yearning for it.

Do certain songs or fantasies from your past now evoke more or less yearning in you than they did earlier in your life? How much of your story involves yearning for something else? Can you write a story in which yearning exists but so does satisfaction? What actions would you have to take to make a better story come to life—a story about yearnings satisfied?

Your yearnings, whatever they are, can be fulfilled if you take action and accept that perfection is possible—but you must let go of the need to have it in every single moment.

Your yearnings, whatever they are, can be fulfilled if you take action and accept that perfection is possible—but you must let go of the need to have it in every single moment.