Often, after a long and wonderful meal, I wish that I could just keep eating -- that fullness would never overtake me, that my hunger would last and last. But alas, my belly swells, satiety looms, and I retire for bed, satisfied and yet not so, wishing that I could have sampled another flavor or pioneered another combination of wine and food.
This is something of how I feel, too, when I look on a beautiful sunset over the ocean, or listen to Maria Callas arias, as we did in the car this afternoon, or get lost in the rhythm of my knitting or the spell of a good book. What is this desire to lose myself in such fullness, while fearing the consequent satiety? Why do I want to always leave some room left for more -- more colors, more tastes, more sunlight hours? Where does my satisfaction lie, if not in the present?
These desires for more have gotten me into trouble at times, but even when tamed, I'm not wholly ashamed of them, for they signal to something of the searcher in me, the restless malcontent who, in failing to find satisfaction in the everyday, will necessarily seek out the exotic, the inexpressible, the divine. As a result, I have learned new languages and lived in far-off places, toured the highest mountains and the ends of the earth, and come back to tell of it. I won't give up these urges for more, yet still they trouble me when my searches take on less concrete forms, and emerge as a kind of irreconcilable longing for possession and consumption at the same time -- but I can't have my cake and eat it too, I know.
The sacred appears to me as the limit to my searching: that which I cannot contain, the absolute beyond any notion of what I might consider as absolute. Against that limit, I must stop, surrender myself, and be resigned my small satisfactions. The bounds of my body, my arms gathered in meditative union, are other sites of slight contentment against the urges of the hungry mind. Sitting, breathing, my desire is not extinguished, but recognized -- and thus stilled, at least temporarily.
Last week we visited this pre-Christian temple in Perugia, pictured above: circular in form, illuminated by skylights overhead, it became a giant womb and holding-space for all my inquietudes, longings, and endless puzzling over what next. I want to keep this place within me, to preserve its still image on my computer screen and within my imagination as a refuge in hurried times. Here, if anywhere, this is just this, and enough is enough.