Monday, July 13, 2020

a secret thread

You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. 
You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them,
 though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all,
 and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that.
 Again, you have stood 
before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for
 all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing 
what you saw - but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realize
that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing 
an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you 
are transported.
 Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret
 attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of - something, not to 
be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, 
the smell of cut wood in the workshop
 or the clap-clap of water against the boat’s side?

Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet
 another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain 
even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, 
and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences
 between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood 
to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? You have never had it. 
All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints
 of it - tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away
 just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest - if there ever
 came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself 
you would know it.
 Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say
 “Here at last is the thing I was made for.” We cannot tell each other about it. 
It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable
 want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends
 or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, 
when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work. While we are,
 this is. If we lose this, we lose all.

~ C.S. Lewis
from The Problem of Pain
art by Stushie
with thanks to Love is a Place


Mystic Meandering said...

Yes, definitely! I feel this all the time, have since childhood. others not resonating with how I see things. And I think my soul has known what it wants all along. And it's never too late to find what that "secret signature" is :) I'm 70 now and am trying to fulfill that soul's "desire" even now... Hopefully it's not too late :)

btw - as I was reading down through the article, not knowing who the author was, it felt like something John O'Donohue would write, so I was surprised when I got to the end and saw it was C.S. Lewis :) Nice surprise... fulfilling his soul's work...