The Ebb and Flow of Desire

3 Oct

When you look at the ocean when it is calm, sometimes it takes awhile for a wave to build but slowly it gains momentum and eventually swells, breaks and crashes to shore. Desire is similar. It crests and falls according to its own innate rhythms. The more we track these cycles of energy the better able we are to gauge our own transformation patterns.


As I currently mourn the deaths of my two beloved cats, Rumi and Hafiz, any sense of desire for a new pet feels dormant. It is like that ocean wave long before you can see it on the horizon. My desire feels flattened out, almost non-existent. And yet I know at some point, not anytime soon but eventually, the longing to bond with another of God’s creatures will build in my heart again. When it reaches its apex, even if it’s years from now, I’ll be in the cycle all over again, driving to Pet-co picking up the weekly supply of food and litter. But desire can’t be pushed pre-maturely. Nor can it be manipulated. It has to build in its own organic way swelling with the tides at its own pace.

When we’re in significant transformation cycles, it’s important that we respect this rhythm and take our related cues from the patterns of our desires. We would no more expect flowers to bloom in winter than we would anticipate stagnation in summer or fall at the height of nature’s ripening and harvest. We lean into transformation when we understand this. And yet in our current world this is so often counter to the messages we receive. We’re always told to get back on the horse when we’ve fallen off but perhaps both the horse and the rider need a little rest before having the energy and impulse to gallop again.

Speaking of resting, years ago I read a novel where the lead character described her relationship with her bed as her lover. She was so exhausted that she only longed for her pillow and the peace that accompanies sleep. I remember being amused by her description yet the reality is that it is hard to long for anything but the mattress or couch when we are physically fatigued. In fact, even sexual desire, the most basic of human drives will wane when exhausted. The infamous, “Not tonight honey, I’ve got a headache,” is a common refrain because quite frankly, many couples are truly exhausted and therefore “not in the mood” for connection.

In farming there is the tradition of letting fields lie fallow so the soil can replenish itself before planting crops again. For those of us running on empty, burnt out from work and responsibilities that have left us feeling bone tired, we need periods of inactivity. Without pause, it is difficult to get in touch with our innate impulses, particularly when our lives are moving at such a fast pace we can barely keep up. Transformation then becomes almost impossible.


Rest therefore is vital. It is the small flame that will eventually spark into the warmth and strength of desire. If you’ve ever built a fire, you know that the strike of the match doesn’t bring instant results. On the contrary, the fire builds as it is patiently and lovingly fed with kindling and newspapers. As we sit and watch it grow in intensity, we feel its warmth and the sensual pleasure and comfort it brings. Then we start to feel joy, inspiration and motivation return where it might have been nearly extinguished. In this process, we have invited desire back into our lives.

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