The longing for that which the soul once knew
Every once in awhile I will read something that just speaks to the plaster that holds my heart together. I will roll the word or phrase around in my mind feeling the contours of its meaning, searching out the nooks and crannies of its presence. I enjoy such ruminations, the way the word sits at the edge of me, amalgamating itself through the filmy bubble of consciousness. Last week I read this Gaelic word: Hiraeth, which was at first reading defined as: "the longing for something the soul once knew". The longing for something the soul once knew. That such a thought could even have a word to define it is beauty pure and simple. How often have I stood in the wind and felt as if there was some kind of nostalgia that is beyond this body, this place, hovering just outside the ability to thread it through memory. How often I have felt the stirrings of something that perhaps I once knew, but cannot seem to find the map to in my mind; lost in the fragments of time. A feeling deeply within that is as easy to grasp as water, slipping through the fingers, resisting all thoughts of containment. In researching I find that there is no English equivalent to the word, which I knew of course, but which makes translation very difficult. Another translation of the meaning was the "longing, or yearning for home". I like to think of it as a combination of the two, where home is not so much a place, but an ill-defined feeling at the edge of restlessness and wanderlust. A remembrance of that which we cannot remember. Already notes are starting to push their way past the songs I had been working on, singing into my waking dreams. Hiraeth makes me want to speak Gaelic.
Written in October of 2009