By Natania Rosenfeld
Art from Creative Commons
I’m not sure what it has to do with length, but it makes sense to think of them together. For longing by definition has no end.
The O.E.D. gives as one definition, the cravings of women in pregnancy. Those objects can be had, though some are quite unhealthy. But cravings are concrete, and they come to substitute for longings. Krunch Kones at the Dairy Land instead of scintillating talk, achievement, the limelight. Whiskey instead of love.
Perhaps “longing” suggests the power of the want, not its unattainability. Perhaps I confuse “longing” with “pining,” which is a word containing pain. To pine is to long with pain for something you’ve lost and can’t have back, ever, or for a very long time: home, or a lover. (The pine tree strained at the sky, stripped, attenuated, its trunk graying.) But I think you long for something you’ve never had, that’s always just beyond the horizon. At the end of a long road whose end is invisible.