Writing recently in the New York Times, Roger Rosenblatt made the point that a writer may have a respected “body of work” and never really be satisfied.
“Good or bad, a particular piece of work does not say anything lasting to us. We finish the poem, novel or memoir, send it into the public air, and think about what to do next. The collected work…says a great deal about us. It usually says we have been weighed in our own balance, and found wanting ….Our body of work is an expression of implied yearning.”
I note the phrase “implied yearning”.
For what are we yearning?
I think of C. S. Lewis writing that before he was a believer – even all the way back to childhood – he sensed a great “yearning” which is at the heart of all seeking for joy.
“Sensucht” is the German word he used to describe this elusive joy. Writing about Lewis’ experience later, Frederick Buechner wrote that it is as “notoriously unpredictable as the one who bequeaths it”.
Rosenblatt concludes his musings with this: “Sometimes, when you are in the act of writing, you feel part of a preordained plan, someone else’s design. That someone else might as well be God. And then one day you rear back and survey everything you have in mind and think, Is this all God had in mind? But it’s all you got.”
All we have?
How wistful. Missing that for which we are yearning. And missing something full of hope.