On Desire and Distance

by Aki Schilz

“We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the desire between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your own longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away.

The mystic Simone Weil wrote to a friend on another continent, ‘Let us love this distance, which is thoroughly woven with friendship, since those who do not love each other are not separated.’ For Weil, love is the atmosphere that fills and colours the distance between herself and her friend. Even when that friend arrives on the doorstep, something remains impossibly remote: when you step forward to embrace them your arms are wrapped around the mystery, around the un-knowable, around that which cannot be possessed. The far seeps in even to the nearest. After all we hardly know our own depths.”

From A Field Guide To Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

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