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Thursday, 17 March 2016

Sehnsucht...



I love this German word, which has no English equivalent; it means “the longing for something”. In my mind it has romantic and magical connotations. C.S. Lewis who was one of my favourite childhood authors defined it as the ‘inconsolable longing’ in the human heart for ‘we know not what’.


WOW Fact - Because the concept of Sehnsucht is so important in Lewis' writing, the Arizona C. S. Lewis Society titled their annual journal Sehnsucht: The C. S. Lewis Journal.


In my opinion, Sehnsucht represents thoughts and feelings that are both positive and negative:


Negative Example - a person’s quest for happiness with unreachable wishes


Positive Example - a person’s developmental function of their life management


“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” C S Lewis


Imagine taking away unobtainable goals and replacing them with smaller goals to create direction in your life. This will help you on your yellow brick road toward your ideal self. What I am saying here is that you have to use your “imagination”.


My example is, there are two meanings of Sehnsucht – the longing for something or someone. In my case it’s the absence of a very specific someone, my father Ken. There are many traps and dangers in grief and  WOW Fact, time does not diminish them however we must also not underestimate the pain others are suffering over the same loss…In my “imagination” I tell myself – “pain shows that you have not forgotten; pain enhances the flavour of memory; pain is proof of love.” In terms of longing for something – life’s longings -my “imagination” runs riot! Longing for going home after a long day, longing for sea and sand, longing to satisfy my hunger for knowledge, longing for change, longing to help as many people as I can, longing, longing, longing they are endless…


Psychologists have worked to capture the essence of Sehnsucht by identifying its six core characteristics:


  1. utopian conceptions of ideal development   
  2. sense of incompleteness and imperfection of life
  3. conjoint time focus on the past, present and future
  4. ambivalent (bittersweet) emotions
  5. reflection and evaluation of one’s life
  6. symbolic richness
In a nutshell, Sehnsucht has important development functions, including giving pointedness for life planning and helping to cope with loss and important, yet unreachable wishes by chasing them in one's imagination.  BUT, WOW Fact - 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 wisdom and intensity that the subject may immediately be only aware of the emotion itself and not conscious that there is a something longed for.


“I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”  C S Lewis


I thought I would share this poem with you, Sehnsucht by Freidrich Schiller, it is simply WOW


 My eyes are open – but I’m not looking outward.


I turn inside – I turn to my inner light.


Will my inner light shine, what will I find inside?


What’s gone thru me?


The Longing, the Longing.


I’m like a blind man searching for sight.


Because he’s not searching for another.


We see each other.


Some ask – how does time pass?


How time passes…how time passes


I ask – how did time begin?


How time begins….how time begins


In which I live eternally


with this certain longing.


That comes and goes, comes and goes.


I so miss the longing.


Sonia Cullington / Coach of Imagination and Lover of Poetry…





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