In her book and TED talk My Failed Mission to Find God - and What I Found Instead, Anjali Kumar postulates that we generally yearn for three things: health, happiness, and love. At first blush, I was hoping for less cliché and a little more originality, creativity, and cleverness.
Health, happiness and love feel like a simple riff on the old proverb made famous by Ben Franklin in his Poor Richard's Almanack, "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."
Clichés are important. They express ideas and thoughts that are widespread within a culture.
Each carries the contours of an iceberg. A universal aspect of the human spirit lies beneath the surface.
The Covid pandemic has heightened our awareness of physical health. The yearning of the soul is not limited to physical well-being but extends to health in the sense of wholeness and, by extension, holiness. With the exposure of the structures' fragility that allows us to pretend we are safe and free to pursue individual pursuits at our convenience fail, the immense desire for health in every dimension of life surfaces.
The symptoms are as varied as that of the Covid virus itself. Among them is the widespread examination of the place and meaning of paid work for many and the desire to connect with friends and family in more regular and meaningful ways.
Happiness is no longer so easily defined as acquiring a shopping list or attaining fame but happiness as a more profound joy that survives disappointment and grief.
I do not deny the often guilty allure of the Christmas and Hallmark movies; however, the sought love goes beyond a romantic meeting at a ski lodge, California winery or foreign kingdom. Love, that sense of being beloved, of being alive, on that edge between stability and surprise and which issues in sacrifice and service.
Perhaps I shall add more by January 1 but, for now, acknowledge the depth of the yearning. Formulate principles to determine which people and practices attract health, happiness and love and which distract.