One of the keys to a flourishing life is to understand how our desires work. The strange thing about our desires – whether for love, happiness, truth, self-awareness, to be ethical, to be creative – is that our most important desires can never fully be realized once and for all. No matter how much we are loved (or love) we can never really be loved enough (or love enough). No matter how self aware we are we can never (and ought never) banish all self-doubt. However happy we are we will suffer disappointments yet alone tragedies. No matter how ethical we are we know in the privacy of our conscience we can always do better. No matter how much truth we discover the fact is that truth’s horizon continues to stretch beyond our reach.
Our desires animate us. They are an energy that moves our life forward but the paradox is that as important as satisfying our desires is so is not having our desires satisfied. Here is what I mean.
If we want to love more deeply and develop greater intimacy then we need to be ready for disagreement, distance, discomfort, and even betrayal. If we never have a fight with our lover, if we never risk “hating” or surrendering to our lover we will never have the intimacy we desire.
Unless we are ready to experience sadness, disappointment and dissatisfaction we can never feel deeper levels of happiness.
If we want genuine and ever expanding self -awareness then we can’t be paralyzed by the anxiousness and anxiety of self-doubt and self-questioning which drive us to learn more about ourselves.
If we want to be really ethical people we need to be ready to feel the tug of temptation, transgress boundaries and feel guilty when we do wrong. If we never feel the urge to do wrong nor guilt that we have missed the mark we will have a very limited ethical horizon.
If we want to be more creative we need to learn how to sit and percolate in the discomfort of boredom. If we want more truth we have to celebrate uncertainty. And if we want to more deeply appreciate the miracle of life then we need to honestly engage the absurdity and loss in death.
The dance of desire is an incredible source of wisdom if we learn how to embrace its paradoxes and contradictions. ?Listening to the murmurings of our yearnings, sitting however uneasily in the places where our longings arise and where we don’t get what we want is the path to blessing.
Rabbi Irwin Kula is a 7th generation rabbi and a disruptive spiritual innovator. A rogue thinker, author of the award-winning book, Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life, and President-Emeritus of Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, he works at the intersection of religion, innovation, and human flourishing. A popular commentator in both new and traditional media, he is co-founder with Craig Hatkoff and the late Professor Clay Christensen of The Disruptor Foundation whose mission is to advance disruptive innovation theory and its application in societal critical domains. He serves as a consultant to a wide range of foundations, organizations, think tanks, and businesses and is on the leadership team of Coburn Ventures, where he offers uncommon inputs on cultural and societal change to institutional investors across sectors and companies worldwide.