This afternoon when I opened our frozen mailbox on River Road, an envelope from my high school best friend was waiting for me. When I opened it I was surprised to find a letter written by my twenty-one-year-old.
self, listing desires and hopes that my then-future self might embody. I had entirely forgotten that I had written something of the sort! Most of the letter was a structured list of value statements like “being purposeful in my actions” and “practicing the act of saying no” (I have always been a “yes” person). I want to find peace in knowing myself and being comfortable with the person I am. I want to learn something every day, look around and find joy in the small things, laugh about mistakes, and cry about hardships. These “wants” – these hopes – were numerous, touching on all sorts of facets of my life. But many of them focused on the importance of connection and of prioritizing relationships. Today, as a thirty-something, it strikes me how consistent that focus has been these last 11 years. Relationship – to self, to others, and to my environment – has been a place of deep motivation, and of deep longing. And yet, I wasn’t able to fully articulate this longing within my letter. Then, and now, my day-to-day is often filled with a classic question – “what do I want?” As I’ve grown older, I’ve found another question – “for what am I longing?” – that goes deeper, closer to the heart space. My longing for relationship wasn’t apparent or fully known to me at twenty-one, but – with care and tending – it is clearer to me now.
It took – and continues to take – patience and waiting. The writer Rebecca Solnit reminds me of the richness and fullness that lies waiting within those unknown spaces: “Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.” She continues (in my opinion, nodding towards the work of the Guild), “It is the job of artists to open doors and invite in prophecies, the unknown, the unfamiliar; it’s where their work comes from, although its arrival signals the beginning of the long disciplined process of making it their own.”
And so I am grateful for spaces and people that draw out my longings from my own unknown depths. And for those unknown depths themselves, with all of their possibilities. May I have the patience and attention to continue nourishing those deep spaces, and to listen for deep longings within them.
by Julia Hubbard