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How do we recognize a ‘desire-image’ at the center of our being?

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The Heart Aroused

Excuse my dancing while you eat by MiikaS via Flickr

I am reading David Whyte’s The Heart Aroused about our relationship with contemporary work and the desperate need that most of us have to do something more nourishing, more soulful and more vital.

It’s a profound book – meaning there is a lot for me to take in and I suspect a lot that I will find worthwhile re-reading and integrating into what I think already.


The last few pages Whyte has been talking about our “private desire- images”, “creative pirouettes”, “creative possibilities”, what Keats calls “the truth of the imagination”.

I know these exist.  I know they really do cause “unaccountable leaps in the body”.  I know because I see the light in people’s eyes when they talk about something they find deeply engaging.

That is a quite different look from the gleam caused by avarice or spite.  An observer watching can clearly tell the difference.

I can also tell the difference on the telephone.  I find it harder though, if not impossible, to use voice as an indicator when I am in the same physical range as another person.  I don’t know if this is because eyes are so  much a better indicator; or, because when we are standing close to another person, we also have our own physical reactions to contend with and filter.


I know these “desire-images” exist and we go into a “flow”-like state when we are close to them.

I know they are different from less attractive, even repulsive, emotional states, such as avarice and spite,  when we feel we can have something without any engagement or consequence – disrespectful states, in other words, that have little to do with who we are or really want to be.

How can we distinguish our desire-images from less desirous emotional states?

In the throes of reading, a cognitively-demanding book that leaves me little time to think through side-tracks, I’ve wondered cursorily how we safely distinguish ‘desire-images’ from emotional mind-fields that capture or attention but our at best unpleasant diversions from where we really want to be.

@jackiecameron1 brought wisdom from Scotland to my Twitter stream this morining.

“Thought for this week RT @RobynMcMaster: When you let love and laughter flow in your day it changes everything!”

Rather than head directly towards slippery, elusive and sometimes mirage-like “desire-images”, welcome love and laughter, act with love and joy.  We’ll create an emotional environment were our “desire-images” flourish safely.

Amidst friends who see our eyes light up when we approach our “desire-images”, we will find our “desire-images” more often and feel safer with them.

Good friends will also chide us gently when the light goes out of our eyes and is replaced with an evil gleam of avarice or spite running riot.

Love and laughter will bring us  back to “truth of the imagination”.

Am I on the right track, do you think?



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