“As Jackson Lears said, ‘All history is the history of longing,’” said the professor.

“Jackson Lears. Jackson Lears. Jackson Lears,” I repeated in my mind. “Remember that, so you can look it up later. You need to bring a pen and paper next time. You’ve been to enough lectures to know that. Do you have a pen in your bag? You might, but for goodness sake, don’t cause a scene. You’re at The Metropolitan Club and you’d be rummaging around in your bag one-handed, holding a glass of wine in the other. Just try to remember. Jackson Lears.”

I remembered, at least enough for Google to help me find what I was looking for. The first paragraph of Jackson Lears’s book, Rebirth of a Nation:

“All history is the history of longing…Human beings have wanted innumerable, often contradictory things – security and dignity, power and domination, sheer excitement and mere survival, unconditional love and eternal salvation – and those desires have animated public life.”

No doubt Lears was not referencing finding your career niche, though the statement resonated with me on this topic. Isn’t it longing that we feel to find our place? Surely this isn’t just me. Haven’t we, in our minds, debated the merits of pursuing security and money versus dignity and purpose? Finding both? Wanting the traditional corner office, wanting to invite uncertainty to see where it would take us next?

As I sat there balancing my wine, reminding myself to sit up straight, to quit fidgeting, and to remember the name Jackson Lears, my anxious mind  wondered if the longing ever goes away.