What do you truly yearn for?

Waterfall-kissingThe subtitle of my blog Soul Embraces, as you can see, is “What do you truly yearn for?”

I think that some of us are terrified to fully answer that question for ourselves. To actually put a voice to those deep cravings and expose ourselves before a witness — whether that listener is a flesh person or a spirit being — makes us feel very uncomfortable.

I know this happens to me. Here I am this big advocate of creative visualization and writing out your goals and desires, and I often find keen ways to avoid noting my own yearnings in any way but what someone reading my mind could comprehend.


I know that many people resist savoring positive pictures of a desired future — the whole enchilada or just the guacamole highlights — because they don’t want to face the disappointment of not receiving what they yearn for. They figure that if they openly hunger for something, it sets them up to have it denied. Not engaging with these deep wishes keeps them out of the doldrums. “Why wish for something I cannot have?”

In my own case, I recently had a new look at my childhood programming. My mom died in late 2011 and I have been hanging out with my 94 year-old dad in the family home, which has given me fresh insight into my personality development.

As the baby boy of the family, I was not encouraged to voice my wants. I was number 4 in the pack order. My conditioning was mostly to accept what the higher ups wanted. I learned how to be extremely flexible because I was neither taught nor encouraged to take charge, lead, make decisions, or be bold. I was taught to respectfully follow and support the pack. Unwittingly, I was also taught the fine art of passive aggression, or getting my way by quietly manipulating circumstances under the radar (like many women of the 1950-1960s learned how to do.)

As a result I became extremely flexible in dealing with life, such as in handling dull jobs. My hunger was to be a creative writer and exercise my brilliance all day, but economic reality set in and I had to earn a living or starve. I took on brain-numbing clerical jobs. My potent mind kept me personally entertained while many co-workers saw me as an under-achiever.

I also discovered (after a life of learning experiences) that I was programmed to be most egalitarian in love relationships. I strongly believed in partnerships and in supporting my partner. I liked strong women and was very flexible, even comfortable, in letting them take the lead with me singing back-up. My upbringing never featured heavy doses of male privilege consciousness; I was bred to respect and listen to women.

The problems I had occurred when women expected me to flat out take charge. I had little training for that. I was trained to be happy in fourth place.

Childhood also prepared me to be satisfied with not having much materially — not to want. We weren’t impoverished, but I heard the money doesn’t grow on trees lecture enough to constantly be conscious of curbing my yearnings. My parents were children of the Great Depression. Flexible as I had been taught to be, I grew up finding low-cost pleasures. I was trained to be content with what I had and not to dream big. Fourth place.

So with this background, I resist thinking deeply on what do I truly yearn for? I often even have trouble answering the simple question, “What do you want?”

I am programmed to sound a little like a Miss America candidate in my answers to that question. “Oh, I want for everyone to have something happy to smile about.”


I’ve noticed that in pondering my yearnings, I rough sort them into two categories. First are the safe ones, the ones that could easily be spoken to anyone because they are universally acceptable. Yearning to establish a nice vegetable garden is not going to offend anyone. It might even draw praise. I can yearn to go walking in national parks or to get better at Photoshop or to improve my blogging skills or adopt a dog. I am decent enough at making lists like that.

Other yearnings are more problematic. Not as safe. Some require lengthy footnotes and disclaimers.

They’re the ones in the sorting bin that get marked private. Sometimes they’re so private I don’t reveal them even to myself. I discovered this tendency through my reluctance to include them in written visualizations about what I would like my life to look like. Yeah, what do I want?

Well, yummy sex.


I am my biggest critic in the private yearnings category. I judge myself with great ferocity.

“Want sex? Yummy sex? Well, you can’t want it unless you have the committed relationship that goes with it. Jerk. You’re not in love so you shouldn’t want sex. Plain and simple. And make your desire sound more intelligent, will you? Geeze! How much respect are you prepared to lose?”

So in the voices of my inner committee of critics, I encounter the tsunami of pain that turned the bliss of sexual play into a Shakespearean tragedy of angst, rage, and grief. Sexual beauty has been uglified beyond belief in our world. Ironically, sex is farther out of the closet than it has ever been. It has invaded our homes through the Internet with a mere google. Yet I’m shocked at how stubbornly joyless it has become. Sex itself seems to be suffering from a bi-polar disorder.

With sad regularity, different visions of gourmet erotic play flash before my eyes. To me they are beautiful, magical, filled with natural and spiritual wonder. All you need is love. But in a world where the news covers pedophiles, rapists, predators, and other creeps with rapt attention, and we’re being taught to objectify each other as targets for our various lusts, admitting to having a healthy sexual appetite is becoming more dangerous — especially for an older guy like me.

By current pornographic standards, my yearning for intimate rapport would be considered unbearably vanilla — too blunt to showcase in a Hallmark card or to confess at the dinner table, but laughable to those who fancy themselves as erotic sophisticates. My vision of joy between the sheets comes inclusive with all the mental and emotional trimmings of fully engaged intimacy. But how to express it in tweet simplicity in this often-hostile world?


I have learned that admitting what I truly yearn for means confronting fear. Can I admit those precious desires and give fear the razzberry?

One of the better retorts I tell myself is that if I am afraid to give voice to my cravings for soul-filled sex, others are, too. And if everyone is afraid to express their desires, you know what will happen. Yawn. So putting it out there is better than putting it in the vault of secrets. It might actually lead to something.

Another retort is that I am responsible for creating my happiness. I am the author of my life. Waiting for others to create my life — even though being fourth place trained me to do that — doesn’t work very well. Part of creating the life I want is opening the energy doors to yes, I want that.

Why not turn stifling my outburst of desire into inviting and inventing fulfillment? So another retort is that even if so much of the world has turned sexuality into a garbage pit, does it mean that I am required to accept that downer vision as my own? Do I have to wait for the world to enlighten up before I savor the yum? Can I move up to first place now?

Yes! It’s time for me to write out what I truly yearn for, and to include the yummy parts.

6 thoughts on “What do you truly yearn for?

  1. nikkir1972 says:

    I always learn something when I read your blog, and that is what’s most important. I think what connects people is their ability to understand or least relate to another’s experience. There are to many that satisfy themselves with the standard “hello, how are you” greeting, which is to be followed by the expected, “I’m fine, and you?” It makes the world turn on a superficial level but it’s not connection inducing.
    It is such a good question…What do I truly yearn for? I think one possible answer leads to multiple choice yearnings.
    The beauty and magic of sex has been cheapened, distorted….and the more it’s glorified in a heartless and vile media the uglier it becomes. I feel sorry for the younger generation who comes to view sex as only between perfect “plastic” people that perform for others erotic benefit.
    I want yummy sex too….I like that phrase lol…but it’s what yummy sex represents that is the grand prize…the golden ticket…the cream of the crop. That’s where I want to be!
    We are definitely responsible for creating our own happiness. It’s a scary step but worth it:)

    • Joshua Bagby says:

      Nikki, as you have seen here I do think a lot about reincarnation, and I think of what my next life might be like if I grow up in the US another time … if I get my sex and intimacy education via the media. It’s a very scary thought. I often fantasize about writing a letter to my future self outlining the principles of sex that I would like a future me to know, that took me a long life to learn. I do not necessarily fear dying but I do fear losing all the knowledge I acquired this life; I am hopeful that somehow it stays with me.

  2. KraftedKhaos says:

    Sex is like ice cream. What’s yummy for one person, might break someone else out in hives, but when you find someone that likes their sundae the same way as you, well… that’s when things get fun!

    While I like the thought, and hope it is so, I am still on the fence about reincarnation, or at least, that it happens to everyone, but, in the assumption that it is true, I think there’s a reason why we don’t remember on a conscious level the things we may have learned previously.

    Foreknowledge changes the way we approach things. You may have learned a lot in this life, but there may be many many things that you missed along the way that, if you came back, you would miss again because you wouldn’t be looking for them, because you already felt you had the answers.

    The core of goodness inside you won’t change between your death in this life and your birth in the next, so the good things you’re looking for in regard to sex won’t change, either, but you will also have the opportunity to approach it with new eyes, to experience the beauty of it for the first time all over again, and explore avenues you may not have in this life for whatever reason.

    Don’t look at it as a loss of lessons learned, look at it as an opportunity to refine and perfect those lessons!

    • Joshua Bagby says:

      Of all the things I have read about reincarnation, what makes the most sense to me about our amnesia of other lives is that — assuming reincarnation is true — we would be crippled with shame if we were privy to all the awful things we did before. It’s been suggested that a soul chooses a lot of lives and varied experiences including sheer evil lifetimes. If I had clear memories of those lifetimes now, I expect I would be overwhelmed with guilt.

      I do heartily agree with you about the joy of looking at something (like sex) with fresh new eyes. And I recognize that it is just my dramatic, fantasizing mind that dreams up plots like I may be reincarnated into some sort of terribly abusive situation or be raised to be an insensitive creep.

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