As a teenager, I had an insight similar to a basic tenet of the Buddha. After rejection from my awkward overtures to a cute girl, the death knoll for a shy guy, I concluded that my suffering was not her fault but came from my desire. I imagined the parameters for fulfillment of desire to be like a horizontal line. We suffer in a world that does not meet our conditions because we narrow the line and end up aiming for conditions that are unlikely or too tight.

The solution to my young heart was to widen the parameters, which paradoxically, often meant settling for less than I really wanted. I later realized the power of pure desire that comes when we keep the whole line, opening our desire to all of life, even though we may aim for some narrow portion of it. This requires practice and discipline to widen our embrace enough to include all of ourselves and the whole of life. 

The key is to feel delight in desire itself, to linger in longing without requiring its fulfillment. We can then let it carry us to heights of inspiration and depths of despair. We can embrace its pleasures and its punishments as expansions of oneself. In this regard, unrequited love serves as the great playground for pure desire pitting passion against impossibility. The tree of life feeds on desire and only blossoms in a season of longing. And we are its fruit ripening into fullness.

Excerpted from A Season of Longing, my third annual Valentine's Day Poetry book, a great gift to give for Valentine's Day! Click the button on the right to learn more -->