Friday, August 22, 2014

Sehnsucht...Life's Longings

This is the word that describes where my heart is at most moments of the day. How could I not know it existed? It is why I love Harry Potter, believe nymphs live in the trees, look for fairies in the woods, am convinced dragonflies are magic, have only one or two close friends, want to live in Shell Cottage...oh, I could go on and on. Thank you C.S. Lewis for giving me such a beautiful descriptor. It is my new favorite.
Sehnsucht is a German noun translated as "longing", "yearning", or "craving" or in a wider sense a type of "intensely missing". However, Sehnsucht is difficult to translate adequately and describes a deep emotional state. It is a compound word, originating from an ardent longing or yearning (das Sehnen) and addiction (die Sucht). However, these words do not adequately encapsulate the full meaning of their resulting compound, even when considered together.
Sehnsucht represents thoughts and feelings about all facets of life that are unfinished or imperfect, paired with a yearning for ideal alternative experiences. It has been referred to as “life’s longings”; or an individual’s search for happiness while coping with the reality of unattainable wishes. Such feelings are usually profound, and tend to be accompanied by both positive and negative feelings. This produces what has often been described as an ambiguous emotional occurrence.
It is sometimes felt as a longing for a far-off country, but not a particular earthly land which we can identify. Furthermore there is something in the experience which suggests this far-off country is very familiar and indicative of what we might otherwise call "home". In this sense it is a type of nostalgia, in the original sense of that word. At other times it may seem as a longing for a someone or even a something. But the majority of people who experience it are not conscious of what or who the longed for object may be, and the longing is of such profundity and intensity that the subject may immediately be only aware of the emotion itself and not cognizant that there is a something longed for. The experience is one of such significance that ordinary reality may pale in comparison.
"Sehnsucht...such longing is in itself the very reverse of wishful thinking;
it is more like thoughtful wishing."     ~ C.S. Lewis

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