Debo, a friend of mine in Albuquerque, sings in a band called “Saudade”. I’ve always liked the sound of the word as it rolls around your mouth, and I like it even more now that I know what it means…
Saudade …saw’-da-de… is a Portuguese and Galician word for a feeling of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return.
Saudade has been described as a “vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist … a turning towards the past or towards the future”. A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing. It may also be translated as a deep longing or yearning for something which does not exist or is unattainable.
Saudade was once described as “the love that remains” or “the love that stays” after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone ( e.g., one’s children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends) or something (e.g., places, pets, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) that should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence.
Isn’t that wonderful?! It reminds me of graduate school, of dancing next to friends in the band, of lying in the grass watching ants, of my high school boyfriend. Of that former me and those former places. Of my dreams of how perfect my children would be, of how perfect my life would be.
Don’t take me wrong- I quite like my life most of the time- but it’s far from perfect and it is tempered with ongoing goals. Gotta lose 20 pounds, gotta save some more money to replace the car that is on its last legs, gotta work on being consistent with the children, gotta grade, gotta…. do a lot of things.
And I know that those times that I remember so fondly were full of their own stresses- where am I going to college? What will I do? Is this who I should be with? My concerns have shrunk from intense, large, life-changing choices to the maze of the daily decisions. Perhaps the only time that was isolated in its peace was during my first pregnancy where I floated along in a haze of hormones, feeling life kick within me, “looking for fun and feelin’ groovy”.
I read today, while waiting at the dentist’s office that “mindfulness” was a treatment for ADHD, and it struck me that Saudade is the opposite of mindfulness. Saudade is past; mindfulness is now. Saudade is wist; mindfulness is appreciation. I have friends who are lost in Saudade- lost amidst the “oh, what could have been” and the “if only I had…”.
And so my new goal- to have THIS be the time of Saudade- that I will look back on and say “Oh, we were happy, so happy.” The only way to do it is to be mindful, to be in the moment, to keep the balance between attention to the truly important little things and attention to the bigger picture. To be wistful about right now. To soak up the children, my family, this place, this time- and when things go wrong, to remember my way back.
Right after my jaw stops aching from this crown… Other than that, this is the time of Saudade. Does it count if I want to change that?