Today my 365 journal urges me to look up the Portuguese/Galician word ‘saudade‘. I did and found out it stands for a specific kind of profound nostalgia and longing.
Sometimes when I’m sad or when I feel like I’m on this precarious ledge at the edge of society, crossing into some unknown territory where not many dare to venture, I long for the people I used to be.
I have been so many things. I have been a musician, I have been a student, I have been someone with a conventional job. I have been a traveler and I have been an adventurer. I have been a depressed and anxious person. I have been a reckless and daring person.
I guess I can long for those times and the mindsets I had and the faith in the kindness of people I had. The faith that these people who were in my life would be with me for the rest of my life.
But when I think of all of these, I realise that at the same time I was a writer. That’s the one thing that never went away, the one thing that couldn’t be supplanted by anything else.
If writing has taught me one thing about life, it is that life is not a narrative. And life shouldn’t be, and we should relish in the fact that not every choice leads to a life-altering moment, the moments that are the least noteworthy if you are writing a story are often the ones that combine into a happy existence.
Who on earth would want to live in a novel? Who would want that pressure on their shoulders? Especially when you write stories, and know that for things to keep interesting there needs to be more conflict than harmony.
So all those times and people I’d include in my ‘saudade‘. All those tunes and streets and pebble beaches. They’re all my material. They’re still here. Sometimes I wish I could step back into my granny’s studio with the sunlight on the wet oilpaintings and read again that book that took my breath away, play again that tune at that session with that great guitar player who heard the music in his head the same way I do, write lyrics with my high school friend in her loft during the blizzard eating the sweetest of chocolates, smell that exact mix of salty Atlantic and peat fires and hot tarry asphalt with the backdrop of the Twelve Bens.
I sometimes wish it, but it’s still there. All of it. And every day, when I write, I use those impressions and smells and touches and tastes and feelings. It’s what my writing is made of.