03 May 2011


Aspiration; noun. strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition.
Synonyms: yearning, craving

Are you competitive? I don't mean in the half-hearted, I-kind-of-like-winning way; I mean competitive in the way that drives you in a never-ending race for excellence. Competitive in the way that anything less than your absolute best is unacceptable. Well, are you?

I'm not. Or at least, I didn't used to be. That sort of aspiration to be the best didn't really show up in my speech and debate until I started listening to this song by Muse earlier this year. It was a bit of a wake up call. 

Come on, Problematic. This is your last year in the league. Make it count. Make it worthwhile. Make it memorable.

Now, apart from the utterly laughable last statement - memorable? Really? Like someone would remember you in a high-school, home-school speech league of all things? - this all suddenly hit home. I don't quite have the words to describe it, but suddenly, I had a craving for excellence. And suddenly, nothing less than "The Best" would do for me. 

There's something funny about cravings. See, you can satisfy them over, and over, and over, but it's never enough. It doesn't matter if the craving is for chocolate, epic soundtracks, winning - choose your poison - the cravings are never completely satisfied. And the worst thing is, sometimes the thing you crave disappoints you.

I had another craving earlier this year. I was craving certain friends, with an intensity that is almost frightening in retrospect. It was an aspiration, of the most dangerous type. 

You see, my friends, I have a confession to make. I had centered my life and my self-image around these friends. What is more, I wasted six months of my life standing in the metaphorical train-station, hoping that each new train would bring that which I most desired. I threw away six months, six months of my 17th year waiting for Godot. And the thing about Godot is, he never shows up. 

Perhaps I should explain why I craved these friends. When I was younger, I had even more severe problems trusting people than I do now. Then, one day, I accidentally opened up. It was sublime. It was like water in a desert, and it was no mirage. Finally, I had someone to tell when another person hurt me. Finally, there was another corporeal person who would make sympathetic noises as I spilled my guts. It was addictive, and I couldn't get enough of it.

I had perverted something that God has given us - good friends - and turned it into my idol. My aspiration was to be with my friends. I centered myself on our time together, rather than drawing enjoyment from it like one draws enjoyment from the opening-band before the big show.

But then they left, and I had a decision. I made the wrong choice. My "idols" left, and I foolishly waited for them. Don't imagine this is easy to say - I've barely wanted to admit it to myself. As I was finally getting over that aspiration, that craving, a second disaster struck.

People are fallible, even my friends. Perhaps I should say, especially my friends. What happened next is something too painful to recount, but we can say that it left me deeply shaken to the core.

I had put my aspirations in the wrong thing, twice. And both times, they let me down. Aspirations are tricky business. If you settle your aspiration on the wrong thing, you're headed for disaster.

 "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God" Psalm 42

Ultimately, the only safe person to entrust with your strong desire, longing, aim, craving, or yearning is God. Because unlike us mortals, He will never leave us nor forsake us. And if that's not a comforting thought, I don't know what is.