Monday, August 10, 2015

Word of the Week - 75

Painting by J.M.W. Turner, "Snow-storm - Steamboat off a Harbour's Mouth." c. 1842
Painting by J.M.W. Turner.
Word of the Week:  HOMESICK

The homesickness of childhood, a harrowing first summer at camp or visit to the grandparents with distant relatives, even riding in their Cadillac, is of a different species than the homesicknesss of a more advanced age.

The longing for family and what is familiar, one's own bed and one's stuff, may give a context for the more existential version of the affliction as I have come to recognize it.  I don't know if it is normal or pathological, the yearning for safe harbor, calm seas, reassurance and an external steadiness that life seldom offers.

Not a constant state, at least not a conscious one, this form of homesickness may be for something never experienced but dreamed of, idealized, sought.  It may be for the return to an earlier time when, whether it actually was or not, existence seemed less fraught with uncertainty.

Jobs and paychecks are more illusion than reality.  A roof of one's own is not a forever promise, nothing on the material plane is.

Home is a quiet mind.  It is the willingness to lean into faith in the face of so few guarantees.  It is acknowledging how much is unknown and uncontrollable and taking the next step anyway or standing still for a time, collecting my wits and other vulnerable parts.  It is a refusal to be swept away by fear or despair, by all the answers I don't have.

We are pieceworkers, patching together security blankets out of what we can gather, out of what we know to be true and lasting - beauty, love without expectations, serenity and an extensive collection of files detailing everything that ever, against great odds, turned out well, evidence of good outcomes.

It is important for me to know and name this yearning.  Otherwise, terror wins and I feel myself leaving this moment for tomorrow's shadowy corners.  Yes, it is a rocket ride to someplace I've never been.  It just might be home.


Just Jen said...

That particular type of homesickness reminds me of Saudade ... "a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist." xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Jen - A fine word, which every text I've seen says has no English equivalent. Your comment sent me on a bit of a quest, learning more, listening to NPR music which they feel expresses saudade. I found this blog: We go on, altered no doubt, regardless. Thank you. xo

Kass said...

I feel a complicated form of homesickness living in the home of my childhood. As I go from room to room there are such sweet memories of childhood innocence and abandon. I did a vocal recital about 25 years ago with the theme of longing. "Longing for Home" caused a lot of emotion for me because it includes that vague feeling that there is "another" indistinct home we all long for.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - As I was writing this I thought of you, living in your childhood home, and wondered if that gave a kind of completeness or continuity that we mostly lack in grown-up lives. You've described it perfectly. I expect your recital stirred emotion in the audience as well, as this seems such a universal longing. Words all this evokes for me include safety, grounding, restoration. xo