Time again for another blog post from the Ineffabble Wanderlust blog circle. This month’s word is Hiraeth, which is a welsh word that is a feeling of homesickness or longing for a place you can’t return to or that never was. Now although there is no english equivalent to this word, I wish there was because I feel I know Hiraeth, I just haven’t had a word for it up until now. In my late teens/early twenties I spent 5 years living in York. Oh how I loved that city and all it was but no matter how comfortable I felt there, there was always an underlying feeling, a spiritual pull, telling me that there was somewhere else I was supposed to be. It wasn’t until I returned home to North Norfolk that I felt the true force of Hiraeth, I was still so young but I have never forgotten the feeling of being ‘home’ as I sat on that pebble beach watching the sunset and feeling my soul at peace.
“Hiraeth – the link with the long-forgotten past, the language of the soul, the call from the inner self. Half forgotten – fraction remembered. It speaks from the rocks, from the earth, from the trees and in the waves. It’s always there.
Yes, I hear it.
Yes, I understand what hiraeth means.”
by Val Bethell
And although I wasn’t gone for long, ever since then I have known that no matter where I travel or where I go, the pull will remain, my sense of belonging is intricately tied to the air that I breathe here and that is the grounding of who I am.
So, how can I capture this feeling in a photograph? I’m honestly not sure it’s even possible but the question got me thinking about other times when I have experienced a similar kind of feeling in my life or where I have observed something that has bought me back to those feelings and that is where I started. I always feel an incredible sense of contentment when I’m watching my children do things that I used to enjoy doing as a child, I think that sense of nostalgia fulfills a part of me that I would love to go back to but know I never can and seeing the children getting joy from the things I loved as a child brings about that feeling of Hiraeth. I love the joy on their faces in these photo’s and can almost taste the feeling they get when being sprayed with cold water and the mischevious joy of blasting their siblings. All feelings I have experienced but don’t and can’t (well at least not in the same way) now I’m an adult. I feel this is Hiraeth.
Another time when I have experienced Hiraeth was the first time I visited the home town of my Portuguese partner, this time though I was experiencing it from an outside perpective and when I first heard this word it was the first thing I thought of. Interestingly they have an equivalent word in Portugal which is the word Saudade.
“Hiraeth … yes, it’s a longing for home but a longing that’s met when you walk back over the doorstep that your parents walked over, and your grandparents and all the great aunts and uncles. It’s met when you knock a front door in the street you grew up in and recognize the knock from your childhood. It’s being able to know that no matter where you travel – home is always where you left it ….”
Since that first visit there have been many more visits but I see that the pull for my partner is still the same and on a visit this month I was able to capture some images of him and our daughter there that I hope go some way to capturing why it is hard for him to leave. Where we are from is part of who we are, but for many reasons it isn’t always where we can be or even where we’re supposed to be. Watching our daughter bounce joyfully through the waves breaking on the shore is a lovely sight and when I watch her I can’t help but wonder if maybe she will feel Hiraeth for this place too.
Please carry on around the circle by following the link to the always beautiful work of Linda Hooper