The Marvelous Crumb

Follow Joy. Find Belonging.

Be. Longing

Soap Bubble

A close up of a shimmering soap bubble. Science News, L. Shen

I feel it most in the mornings when I awake alone and wrapped in silence. The north-facing window is sometimes open having shimmied down on its own in the night, and I will myself from my warm nest to close it. The cool air hits me like a shot of gin and I retreat to my blankets. Just 15 more minutes, I tell myself, time to imagine being held by another, and then the doing can begin.

I reach for my phone.
News again

Then it’s time for the day — the balancing of the this’s and that’s on my to-do list with a deep hunger for something more. The feeling dissipates but it never goes away.

It is this longing that keeps me under my covers. And it drives my incessant reaching (try as I might to create barriers) for empty connections that pop upon contact like rainbowed soap bubbles.

Be. Longing.

My bestie turned me on to the writing of John O’Donohue and his words are coloring my world anew. Like a balm, he reminds me that this reaching is our human condition. “To be alive is to be suffused with longing.” And what are our longings, he says, but a hunger to belong? To feel connected, seen, appreciated, worthy, not alone.

The journey is to be our longing,  our aspirations,  our hunger for the something more that can’t be named. The potency behind this is our life force — a reminder of our aliveness.


The first sunset of 2108 from Mt. Tamalpais. We climbed up here and spoke our aspirations for the New Year so they might take flight.

True belonging comes from within. It strives for harmony between the outer forms of belonging and the inner music of the soul. -John O’Donohue

And this is the real balancing act: To watch our hunger drive us to reach outside ourselves and then somewhere on that journey (mid bon-bon, mid text firestorm, mid designer-jean purchase, mid morning fantasy) in a moment of great awareness turn and drive deeper into ourselves.  Into the only place we will ever fully be met — within.
Be. Longing.

But that sounds sooo HARD.

Yes. It is the work of a lifetime. But our belonging does not hinge on forsaking the distractions,  entertainment or the this’s and that’s on our to-do list — it’s showing up for it all, the multidimensional human experience. The outer is necessary for leading us to our inner — the music of our soul.

Our longing is a map to our fullness.

This is the place of embrace.
This is the place of creation.

But, ironically, this is not a place we like to hang out.

We don’t have the time, it feels too lonely, we don’t feel worthy or skilled enough, there are too many other things that are more important.

Yes, and we must show up anyway, if for no other reason than to manage the longing.

I’m trying this on. Before I’ve lifted the covers, checked the phone or closed the north-facing window, I write. I feel the longing viscerally. It is a dull hum in my centerline extending from belly to chest. I feel alert, sensitive and vulnerable like a fragile shimmering soap bubble, and in this, undisputable be.longing.


When is your longing most present? Often we feel its intensity during transitions when there’s a bit of space for it to be heard. I can count on my longing in the morning. For you, it might be another time — evenings, crossing a threshold, in the presence of a certain person, waiting.

You can identify a good time to focus on because there will likely be some habit you’re trying to break that surfaces. This is the outer way we manage our longing. For me, this is checking my phone in the morning. When you find yourself reaching for the habit, it’s your clue that the longing is there.

Pause, feel.
Identify where the longing lives in your body
Breath into this place

What small thing might you do to be with this longing? Something that allows you to create from this place. Maybe that’s writing, or moving your body. Maybe it’s taking a photo, working a puzzle or doodling. Whatever it is, it should be something you enjoy. If you don’t know, how did you create when you were a child? Start there.

I’d love to know where your longing is leading you. Leave a comment below.



  1. Hi Kelsey – your thoughts here connect me to this poem by David Whyte that resonates with me very much right now…


    Start close in,
    don’t take
    the second step
    or the third,

    start with the first
    close in,
    the step
    you don’t want to take.

    Start with
    the ground
    you know,
    the pale ground
    beneath your feet,
    your own
    way to begin
    the conversation.

    Start with your own
    give up on other
    people’s questions,
    don’t let them
    smother something

    To hear
    another’s voice,
    your own voice,
    wait until
    that voice

    becomes an
    private ear
    that can
    really listen
    to another.

    Start right now,
    take a small step
    you can call your own,
    don’t follow
    someone else’s
    heroics, be humble
    and focused,
    start close in,
    don’t mistake
    that other
    for your own.

    Start close in,
    don’t take
    the second step
    or the third,
    start with the first
    close in,
    the step
    you don’t want to take.

    in River Flow
    New & Selected Poems
    Many Rivers Press © David Whyte

    • Kelsey

      January 4, 2018 at 11:30 am

      Ahhhh … YES! This is it. Start close in, the step you don’t want to take. You know O’Donohue and Whyte were friends. Thank you for sharing this gem with me. It’s just perfect. <3

  2. Thanks for this, very relatable and lovely <3

  3. “But our belonging does not hinge on forsaking the distractions, entertainment or the this’s and that’s on our to-do list — it’s showing up for it all, the multidimensional human experience. The outer is necessary for leading us to our inner — the music of our soul.”

    I love this and so much more, thank you. this comes at such a resonating and necessary time!

    • Kelsey

      January 4, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      I’m so happy to hear it Chetna. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Would love to consider how we might collaborate in the future. I love what you’re doing in the world. Happy New Year!

  4. Thank you so much for this post! I’ve struggled to find words for the achiness and avoidance I feel, but your post captured so much for me. Thank you for your generous sharing. The reframing of belonging as be. Longing is so liberating- it helps me embrace the wondering, child-like part of me that knows with certainty “but something’s missing”. This child connects me to others, and will help me remember the ways I can be creative and create, and be held in connection. I plan on inviting her in for tea, and asking what she’d like to play today. And in the background, the steady drum and thrum, the musical quality of be. Longing.

    Thank you.

    • Kelsey

      January 14, 2018 at 3:11 pm

      So beautiful Alina. We CAN be creative and create and be held in connection. Thank you for reminding ME of this. So often writing feels like such a lonely journey. It is and it is not. I’m alone but more intimate with my world and myself. This feels like salvation. So why is it so hard to do? Ahhh …

  5. we live alone, we die alone …
    you have a bestie, one at least … !
    we hail from an UNBROKEN lineage of survivors that goes back ~3.5 billion years to the beginning of life on Earth …
    our longing and motivation are so deeply and honestly inherited …
    it’s like way in our flesh and bones …
    today is always and ever a new day …

    • Kelsey

      January 14, 2018 at 3:15 pm

      Amen. You are a poet my dear friend. As O’Donohue says, we are born of longing — from flesh craving flesh and from the impossibility of completeness even in this act, we come forth. Yes, way in our flesh and bones bringing us closer to the divine.

  6. I wake up every morning and HATE that I feel the need to check my phone! Why does my phone get to be the first thing I do in the morning?! But I just MUST see who is trying to talk to me! Who needs me? Who wants to make a plan? It actually makes me feel even more lonely in the morning and it is just dreadful. I have been trying to write before looking at my phone but have yet to be successful. Reading your post inspires me to try harder and not give in to that devilish little addictive screen.

    • Kelsey

      January 14, 2018 at 3:20 pm

      Devilish little addictive screen! Sometimes when I’m reaching for my phone I ask, what am I really reaching for? What one message could it give me that would make me feel complete? Often it’s something along the lines of, “I love you so much. I can’t live without you. Can we be together right now and for the rest of time? Come with me to Spain.” or “You’ve just one a million dollars.” And then I consider, what’s the possibility of my phone saying that right now. Literally zilch. So I move on. Sometimes though, when I ask that question there really is someone I want to hear from like, “I want to know if anyone’s posted a message on my blog.” And then, it’s really, really, really hard not to check. 😉

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