“… literature provided me with alternate threads by which to darn a harmonious, yet delusional, understanding of death, of fatherless children, of a family. To move into this realm is to be cuddled in the arms of a chair, mesmerized by the pages of a book unfolding like an accordion, embraced by a transparent sound barrier, and transported into fantasies found through fictional characters. While my mind’s eye grasped the hand of my naïve emotional self and together we observed the telling of storied lives, there was a seeking mind that simultaneously identified revealing markers to create a map, not to a place of hidden treasures, but to a place that felt like a home.
I was six years old the first time this happened. Martin and Cooney’s Five Little Peppers and How they Grew eased my aloneness with the emptiness left by my father’s death and filled it with a reformulated concept of family. Later, it was Alcott’s characters within Little Women and Little Men who gave me permission to vicariously be a fatherless child united with loving adults who validated sacrifice, patience, and compassion. Burnett’s themes of grief and loss within The Little Princess identified the behaviors, choices, and attitudes necessary to survive the evils of dark despair until the rescue by an unknown and unidentified savior, just and righteous.”
~B Catherine Koeford, A Mediative Journey with Saldage homesickness for a place, a time, a person that cannot be
The Chinese expression for “nostalgia” is xiangchou, literally “village sadness” … the grief that accompanies the traveler who cannot find a way back to the home village.
Vera Schwarcz, Bridge Across Broken Time
Hiraeth (pronounced [hiraɪ̯θ] is a Welsh concept of longing for home. Many Welsh people claim hiraeth is a word which cannot be translated, meaning more than solely “missing something” or “missing home.” To some, it implies the meaning of missing a time, an era, or a person. It is associated with the bittersweet memory of missing something or someone, while being grateful of their existence. It can also be used to describe a longing for a homeland, potentially of your ancestors, where you may have never been. Similarly, the Cornish equivalent is hireth.
lost in the woods —
only the sound of a leaf
falling on my hat ~Tagami Kikusha (trans: Makoto Ueda, Far Beyond the Field)
Hiraeth bears considerable similarities with the Portuguese concept of saudade, Galician morriña, Romanian dor, Gaelic cianalas, Russian toska (тоска), German Sehnsucht and Ethiopian tizita (ትዝታ)
Week 24 Inspiration: Who inspires you (Inspiration comes from many places. Tell us about who inspires you.)
My introduction to Bruce Percy’s color landscape images invited me to study the amazing images of Michael Kenna and to visualize landscape photography through an eye towards minimalism and muted colors. “As I’ve grown older, I’ve found that I’m much more attracted to the wilderness and the people that live on the edges of it. Photography is a great way of getting closer to the land and the cultures that inhabit it.” ~Bruce Percy cited: Wotfoto.com
What I have found interesting in this exploration and study of various photographers, is that while I am inspired by Bruce Percy and Michael Kenna, I am also drawn to the street photographs created by Jasper Tejano who offers the viewer amazing colored images of life on the street, “… color street photography, to me, presents life with much more realism and dynamism. Especially with my work on silhouettes, the darkness of my subjects will just drown in the different shades of gray. I need color to make my subjects emerge from the frame.” ~Jasper Tejano
Death of a loved one disturbs the relationships that sustain a person’s sense of ‘identity’ and the high level of binding and cathexis concentrated on the person who is lost is suddenly disrupted . . . there is a close link between the doctrines of egolessness and suffering.
De Silva, Padmasiri. An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology. Landam, MD, 2000.
Through this lens of Buddhist thought, I begin to feel a crumbling of a child’s self with an understanding of how my father’s absolute and final absence from our lives disrupted the multiple relationships between my father, mother, sister, and me. Besides the sudden severing of the identity I was forming via my father, the connecting emotional threads between those of us that were left, although still intact, were unknowingly stretched and pulled by our own individual fears of egolessness.
My father’s death left my mother, a young woman deaf from infancy, with two daughters and pregnant with her first son. I do not recall whose idea it was to wander outside the house early that morning as my mother slept. I can, however, imagine my young self following my older sister as if an invisible thread that tied us together tugged me along as she, with her five-year-old world view, undertook an emotional duty to find our father. Did we believe we could find him fly fishing in the creek that ran alongside the house? Or was there something about the water that enticed us into abandoning our search? I can recall to this day the cessation of anxiety and arising rapture that coincided with my surrender to the inevitable. Two young men, I am told, rescued us both from this search for our father.
Koeford, BC. A Meditative Journey with Saldage Homesickness for a place, a time, a person that cannot be
Then a peaceful sensation came over me, a sense that I didn’t have to do anything, that nature was taking care of itself. …The forest grew itself in the same way that my body breathed. What are Earth’s natural systems, living systems, always up to? Growing and reproducing. The living world is a creative place, because living things are always creating. Humans are not separate from this creation… We are creating our lives, while all around us the world is a creative place. …when I sit and draw, I am expressing that same creative energy. I open and let the drawings emerge.
“…Visual transmission through images speaks directly to intuition and feelings, circumventing the verbal mind. Drawings offer spaces for imagination to wander, evoking meanings too complex or subtle to know intellectually. This state of mind, in which one can receive information through images, points to one of the closest parallels between the contemplative and creative paths. Aesthetic appreciation and receptivity to spiritual teachings are both practiced with an open-ended state of mind, a state of comfortable not-knowing. We draw and meditate in heightened awareness of what is happening in the moment, opening the space for new ideas, and allowing change to happen.”
Who on earth was she when when no one knew she was Hanna…
“But what made the greatest impression during those early days was the man who employed her at the bakery. ‘What’s your name?’ Hanna hesitated for a while before answering, ‘Hanna, Lovisa, Greta . . . Broman.’ ‘Married?’
“‘Yes, but my husband’s dead.”’ “’Now, then,’ said the man, noting it down. ‘Date of birth?’ She was silent. She’d never heard anything so silly. He had to repeat it. ‘”When and where were you born, woman?’ She stated both year and parish, got the job . . . she never forgot the foreman’s questions and repeated themselves to herself every evening for a long time afterwards. Name, married, born? To her it was if she’d fallen into a gigantic hollow on Wolf Mountain. Who on earth was she when no one knew she was Hanna Augustdotter from Braten, granddaughter of the rich Erik of Framgarden, and who become the miller’s wife at Norakvattnet? Fortunately she wasn’t given to brooding. But many a time over the next few years she had to fend off the feeling of having lost her foothold.”
[Fredriksson, M. (1994). Hanna’s Daughters. The Ballantine Publishing Group: New York]
“…to remain alive is to be subject to the grinding force of memory. Day and night the millstone turns, shaping the soul and softening the heart. To some, this going around and around the same subject may seem like emotional paralysis. But there is also something freeing about this attachment to remembrance. One day, one hour, one child, keep cutting through to the present. All other days take shape around this circle of emptiness.” ~V Schwarcz (Bridge Across Broken Time)