Life’s a pathway of longings. When we’re young, we long to grow up … to reach driving age, drinking age, voting age. Once those milestones are achieved, other longings become prominent. We long for a specific job offer, for our team to win, for an upcoming vacation trip, for that just-purchased lottery ticket to hit big, for the mortgage to be paid off, for retirement. We long to become parents and when that stage of life sometimes feels overlong, we long to launch those loved offspring into full independence. (We long for them to make their own pathways.)
On the subject of longings, I’ve posted about them before (here, here, here). C. S. Lewis most notably described this human concept as the inconsolable longing and he used the German term sehnsucht. I agree with Lewis about the aptness of this term which connotes wistful longing. Many years before I read and re-read Lewis, I understood inconsolable longing experientially.
St. Augustine described a similar understanding for sehnsucht saying: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
Author George Eliot (the pen name of Mary Ann Evans, 1819-1880) asserted: “It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are still alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them.”
Longing is embedded in our souls.
When I reflect on my internal life, I’m forced to acknowledge there are aspects I don’t fully understand. Besides the obvious physical renewal that takes place during sleep, other forces also seem to be at work. (If I haven’t gotten proper rest, I feel my creative energies go flaccid.)
I often wonder, why is it I can work on a poem all day and set it aside because I’m dissatisfied with it? Yet the next day (or week), I can pick up the poem, make a few seemingly insignificant edits, and suddenly, it works as I had originally intended! Way back in the recesses of my subconscious, my brain has wrestled the details and set them squarely in place … even as my conscious mind has been focused on other things.
Today’s poem is titled Sehnsucht and the poem takes a slightly playful approach to what I consider a deeply serious subject. Perhaps you’ve experienced the identical impulse I’ve had, an impulse that spurred the poem. I’m fast asleep, way off somewhere in Dreamland and enjoying a glorious dream … but I’m suddenly blasted into consciousness! My immediate instinct is to go back into that dream. Of course, one rarely (never?) finds this possible.
One clarification: The third stanza repeats the phrase Take Me Back, and though it works (I think) in the poem, I’m quite sure the moment I’m ushered out of this world, the last thing on my mind will be to have a look backwards … because in that moment, I know I’ll be blessedly – wondrously – for all Eternity – at Home.