I was thumbing through a Williams-Sonoma catalog. It calls itself "a catalog for cooks," but really, it's a catalog of the life we wish we had. Everything is beautiful, delicious, elegant. The kitchens portrayed are immaculate—there are no messes. Cooking there would be a joy. The tables are sumptuous with their beautiful china place settings, wine glasses brimming with nectar, gourmet foods deliciously prepared, invitingly presented. Fresh flowers abound. The homes are lovely and spacious; the view out the windows is always a mountain lake, a beach, or perhaps an English garden. Everything is as it ought to be. Glancing through its pages, you get a sense of rest. Life is good. You see, the images whisper, it can be done. Life is within your grasp. And so the quest continues. But of course. Our address used to be Paradise, remember?
And oh, how we yearn for another shot at it. Flip with me for a moment through the photo album of your heart, and collect a few of your most treasured memories. Recall a time in your life when you felt really special, a time when you knew you were loved. The day you got engaged perhaps. Or a childhood Christmas. Maybe a time with your grandparents.
Hold your memory while you gather another, a time of real adventure, such as when you first learned to ride a bike, or galloped on a horse, or perhaps did something exciting on a vacation. Now, we were meant to live in a world like that—every day. Just as our lungs are made to breathe oxygen, our souls are designed to flourish in an atmosphere rich in love and meaning, security and significance, intimacy and adventure. But we don't live in that world anymore. Far from it. Though we try to resolve the dilemma by disowning our desire, it doesn't work. It is the soul's equivalent of holding our breath. Eventually, we find ourselves gasping for air.