Lost & Found: The Emotional Alchemy of Saudade

There are these incredible words we human beings dream up in our attempt to describe the nuances of what we feel.  For me, the emotions that I have experienced as being some of the most poignant of my life so far all fall in a specific range that not just one English word ever covers…

Yearning.  Longing.  Craving.  Missing.  Malaise.  Angst.

However, just recently I came across a stunning Portuguese word that hits the nail right on the head and more completely captures the texture of what I am speaking of…it is “saudade” (or sodade in Cape Verdean, a dialect of Creole).  It translates directly in English as nostalgia, but to a native speaker it has a much richer meaning.   It is the deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Even deeper still, it describes the feeling towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown…it is the love that remains in the space of absence.

For me saudade is the perfect word to describe what I felt over the many years before N appeared in my life.  Outside in my day to day life, I loved him and missed him with all my heart, but at the time I had no idea who or where he was.  At the time, it was not that I thought I needed someone in my life, rather I could just feel his absence as if there was a part of me already connected to this future trajectory I write from as my now today.

How did I know back then that this would be my now?

Well, it was was with experiences like randomly seeing this picture for the first time:

…and then immediately sobbing as I knew the one I would want my bones to spend 5 THOUSAND years in an embrace with was still out there somewhere.

It was in moments reading of others experiences with saudade and it’s resolution that would literally take my breath away.  Like from Anais Nin:

“Before tonight, I entered each room looking for a miracle which never took place.  Now, (tonight) here he is, alseep in my bed”.

I entered room,  after room in my life while embracing discovery of new details from the future that would arrive in the next moment…and the next.  One foot forward, a quick peek back to check progress, then slowly seeing the dreams of the past come into focus as the reality of my today.

Upon meeting N face to face for the first time, I had a feeling that I can only describe as if a missing physical piece had finally completed some puzzle.  I had been whole inside alone, but with Ns arrival on the scene, now I experienced that wholeness outside myself “together”.

Right now I have so many treasured friends in transition.  Friends who are single after many years of sharing their life with someone else.   Friends who are in a relationship, but are contemplating the growth and redirection of alone.  It is saudade in so many ways all around me…and my oh my, how I remember that feeling so clearly when it comes to relationships…not an easy emotional state to dance with as one does not quite know the parameters of the floor (ie how low can one go…ouch!), but oh, so well worth allowing oneself to feel it in the end.

If I can offer some soothing balm to anyone currently in this place of the love of something or someone one missing or currently unknown,  it would be to cherish the great depth of longing and solitude that the feeling of saudade creates.  Doing so provides a POWERFUL foundation in oneself to build on for whatever, or whomever is coming in the future in ones life.

It is the poignant experience of knowing pure love without knowing the details of the beloved.  It is an inner knowingness without an outer way to be expressed.  It is to make known the unknown by loving in the now what only in the future would actually be experienced.  For me saudade holds the alchemical emotional power by loving whatever is in your now as it will directly create the future you will be able to know …it is loving the lost which gives the peek through the mist and around the bend to all that is going to be found.

  • .

Sodade (Longing)

Who will show you…
this distant way?
Who will show you…
this distant way?
This way …
to Sao Tomé?

The longing, the longing,…
The longing
For this land of mine, Sao Nicolau

If you write me letter,…
I will write you back
If you forget me,…
I will forget you…

Until the day…
You come back

This entry was published on October 23, 2012 at 10:39 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

7 thoughts on “Lost & Found: The Emotional Alchemy of Saudade

  1. Anonymous on said:

    That is a great Nin quote. Where is it from?

    • The quote was taken from a movie (of the same name) based on Nin’s book “Delta of Venus”. I have always thought that her contemplations on what it means to be a woman, on men, relationships and sexuality were quite interesting for her time.

      The whole movie is actually available to watch on youtube and can be looked up if interested, but I am not going to link it here as I am sensitive to the fact that it might be too explicit for some and is not appropriate for children at all.


  2. Oh Portuguese! sigh. that sums up that feeling so precisely.

    love you. loved this post! xox

  3. Beautiful my friend… This was linked to my post and I felt why after reading this. Brilliant in view that you stated here. 🙂

    • Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts here, Clark. Yes, love in the space of absence is a powerful thing. I am looking forward to diving into those evolving telephone booth moments I am sure are found in your writing as well :). Glad you enjoyed. x.M

      • I look forward to any stirring of vibration that is felt when you do! 🙂 There are plenty of booths that we all need to venture to, to realize the space created for love to venture!

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