You get lost in a part of the city you lived when you were ten years younger. You walk past the place of a girlfriend you once knew in your twenties, but remember little, almost missing it completely. You look up at what use to be her window. From the exterior, everything still looks the same from small snippets of memories. Somebody else lives there now. All the neighbors that were; gone and she only lingers minutes in mind, but you feel a searing nostalgia to everything that was, and what no longer is.
Moments like this have been a very common occurrence this last year in many places and memories. It's not so much her or the others thats missed, what we had, or even how things looked back then. Most of the emotional memories haven't connected yet, and I am not sure if they ever will.
It's hard to explain what the surprising feeling was at that moment standing outside that old building. It was so confounding in its intensity!
Then at that moment the phone rings, and it's my annoying, then pregnant tri-lingual therapist asking "How are you?", and sitting on the street steps, you're just at a loss. You don't quite know how to convey emotions, and after a few attempts, many blanks, things just move on to other subjects. Her just lecturing about exercises I have been known to ignore.
That is unless you speak Portuguese like she does! Because if you do, there is no need to panic, you'll have the perfect word to fire off the minute when this happens to you. You can just tell them that you're experiencing, 'Saudade' and they will completely get you with a big blue thumbs up emoji! But I can't promise they'll leave you alone. It hasn't worked with my doctor.
'Saudade' doesn't have a direct translation in any other language as she pointed out. It means 'a bittersweet, melancholic yearning for something beautiful that's now gone.'
A sort of love affair, childhood home, a hug, or friendship can ignite them. It's a blend of pain, loss, and pleasure that some piece of loveliness once graced our lives and made us smile.
The underlying issue is the relationship between language and feeling has long created debate and frustratedwriters. It's been proposed that feelings are independent of words in many circles. Babies, for example, can feel things long before they know how to paint words to tell their sensations and wetting their nappies.
But many others have insisted that certain feelings would remain virtually unknown to us if we didn't have the phrase to help us recognize them. The truth, as so often, sits waiting in an intriguing middle area. Language may not selfishly create feelings, but it beautifully deepens and clarifies them.
The right words help us to know and free ourselves. In turn, allowing us to connect again and help others. Through their assistance, we can more accurately and securely identify the contents of our inner lives as I am now learning through my many involuntary memories.
The phenomenon becomes especially evident when coming across words in other languages that zero in on an emotion that our language doesn't have a synced term. Noticing just how much a good word can do to bring a feeling into focus and often make me smile.
A cheery favorite is 'forelsket'! from the Norwaigens. A word that captures the euphoric feeling at the beginning of love when we can't believe someone so wonderful could have walked into our lives and has the goodness to think well of us and our future.
We might say 'I was overpowered by forelsket as our fingers interlaced watching the northern lights freezing our asses off in fucking Scandivania!' But it isn't just a few magical words and foreign languages that clarify our minds. This very well may be all that great books do for us!
What we call a good poem or novel is ultimately one that has been reduced extents of our own self-alienation, misunderstandings and tries to return us to ourselves in some orderly manner. (Fingers crossed for my new book to do the same!)
After years of reading, we might know to pinpoint words and sentences to nearly everything we feel. However, transient and fragile it might be, it was this gift that Billy Shakespeare praised in A Midsummer Night's dream when he wrote:
The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling, does glance from heaven to earth. From earth to heaven. And as imagination bodies forth. The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing. A local habitation and a name - Billy Shakespeare :)
Thanks to literature, we can be rescued from the closed rooms we are locked into inside our minds. The right words can break our isolation. They are the agents of, and true conduits to love and the human experience.
Fun tip: Words are also an excellent way to tell your overly caring doctor to go to hell and piss off. Works every time! For the most part, it seems like she knows a thing or two and worth a call when I need a ear. Thanks Doc :)