24th October 2020
MENU
LIVE
Photos: Omar Sha3
Reflecting the Sun with Raya Kassisieh
Our Creative Director gets candid on how the sun makes her feel and why she never misses a sunset.

It is not just the sun or stars, it is not only the clouds or moon, it is not solely the hues, the sounds, the speed, the shift but the whole, the emotions, and the self, intertwined, amalgamated into one experience. Like everything in this world, light’s life in a day is mortal. Effervescent and eternally shining, yes, but finite in a day’s worth. No stopping it, no controlling it, no changing it.

The setting of a sun is like a love lost slow and fast, one that runs through your fingers like white sand on a beach. A serene scene you must leave, your removal marks its closing for you—leaving an imprint everlasting, as it actually is, however, no longer yours in the immediate. A time of completion where you are involved but not, almost like a spectator necessary to document, to see, to feel but fail in comparison to the vastness of all that it is. It is stationary and solid in-state but, in contrast, so monumentally transitional and total. It is as if you stand on a platform, erect, but the pedestal spins, and not by your own command. You are only meant to observe.

In these moments, the existence of absence and the simultaneous presence of past and future creates a certain pleasure. Your senses are heightened, sharpened by your awareness, realization, acceptance, and anticipation. You can smell, taste, and feel everything so accurately. Though it may be painful or somber, it is, in contrast, skewed by the warm memories of yesterday’s past and the pure anticipation for the memories the future may bring. It is both a very specific feeling yet, enormous in its encompassment. It is an entire and vast area in your chest, consuming the cavity of your breast. But, it is not only there; it is not singular, it is dynamic, it is everywhere inside and outside of you. It is almost out of body, yet so much in your body it feels like you are both slipping and floating. Not exiting your physicality but levitating, hovering, releasing. You become one with the clouds, formed but not, shaped yet ethereal, outlined but with soft edges, swishing and blending into the abyss of the sky that is your infinite playground.

For over three years, I’ve been in constant search for a word that describes this specific feeling often brought on by the descent of my beautiful sun. In my pursuit, I’ve come closest to describing it with three different words: a German one, a Portuguese one, and an English one. This feeling colloquially may be mistakenly coined as nostalgia; however, it is not only that. 

The first word I came across is a German one, “Wehmut,” a beautiful friend from college taught it to me. She said word for word: “So the closest I can think of is probably “Wehmut.” I actually think I know exactly what you’re feeling (it is how I felt when I realized Trump would be president), and I think Wehmut somewhat describes it. But that still doesn’t really include the feeling of realization. If I had to express it in German, I’d probably say something like “Wehmut im Verständnis” ( Verständnis = understanding ) It’s funny because when I just put that into google, the first thing that came up is an article that talks about “Wehmut und Verständnis” that the Oktoberfest will be canceled this year.”

She also proceeded to send me an interesting article that discussed a complicated emotion as aticipatory grief; “ Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain.”

I came across the Portuguese word by chance through a short essay on aeon.com (my favorite literature outlet), the word is “Saudade.”

Saudade is a key emotion word for Portuguese speakers. Though akin to nostalgia or longing, the term has no direct equivalent in English. As the Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil sings in ‘Toda saudade’, it is the presence of absence, ‘of someone or someplace – of something, anyway.’ One can have saudades (the singular and plural forms are interchangeable) for people or places, as well as sounds, smells, and foods. One can even have saudades for saudade itself. That is because ‘it is good to have saudades’ (é bom ter saudades), as the common saying goes. There is a certain pleasure in the feeling. Though painful, the sting of saudades is a reminder of a good that came before.”

Lastly, the English word I came across was “Rapture.” The comparison of “rapture” to this feeling was brought forth to me by another dear friend and a man I almost loved. If you ponder on the way I describe the feeling of lifting, accepting, seeing, not doing, changing but being physically stagnant in your own will, then it truly makes sense. It is almost a rapture of the day, a moment, a life once lived and will never again be lived. Not in a morbid way, but in a way to say yes, that time, that past has come to an end, knowing there is infinitely more to come, realizing what is happening in that transition and just being. 

Through this quest and hunger for this emotion, this situation, captured by the setting of my sun I find myself still in search. Both, for the perfect term, as well as the ideal way of explaining it. The abstraction of my writing is not a style but a true reflection of the enormity that is that moment. It almost feels like an existential crisis captured in a passing minute. Is there a word in your language that may come close?

Photos: Omar Sha3
Reflecting the Sun with Raya Kassisieh
Our Creative Director gets candid on how the sun makes her feel and why she never misses a sunset.

It is not just the sun or stars, it is not only the clouds or moon, it is not solely the hues, the sounds, the speed, the shift but the whole, the emotions, and the self, intertwined, amalgamated into one experience. Like everything in this world, light’s life in a day is mortal. Effervescent and eternally shining, yes, but finite in a day’s worth. No stopping it, no controlling it, no changing it.

The setting of a sun is like a love lost slow and fast, one that runs through your fingers like white sand on a beach. A serene scene you must leave, your removal marks its closing for you—leaving an imprint everlasting, as it actually is, however, no longer yours in the immediate. A time of completion where you are involved but not, almost like a spectator necessary to document, to see, to feel but fail in comparison to the vastness of all that it is. It is stationary and solid in-state but, in contrast, so monumentally transitional and total. It is as if you stand on a platform, erect, but the pedestal spins, and not by your own command. You are only meant to observe.

In these moments, the existence of absence and the simultaneous presence of past and future creates a certain pleasure. Your senses are heightened, sharpened by your awareness, realization, acceptance, and anticipation. You can smell, taste, and feel everything so accurately. Though it may be painful or somber, it is, in contrast, skewed by the warm memories of yesterday’s past and the pure anticipation for the memories the future may bring. It is both a very specific feeling yet, enormous in its encompassment. It is an entire and vast area in your chest, consuming the cavity of your breast. But, it is not only there; it is not singular, it is dynamic, it is everywhere inside and outside of you. It is almost out of body, yet so much in your body it feels like you are both slipping and floating. Not exiting your physicality but levitating, hovering, releasing. You become one with the clouds, formed but not, shaped yet ethereal, outlined but with soft edges, swishing and blending into the abyss of the sky that is your infinite playground.

For over three years, I’ve been in constant search for a word that describes this specific feeling often brought on by the descent of my beautiful sun. In my pursuit, I’ve come closest to describing it with three different words: a German one, a Portuguese one, and an English one. This feeling colloquially may be mistakenly coined as nostalgia; however, it is not only that. 

The first word I came across is a German one, “Wehmut,” a beautiful friend from college taught it to me. She said word for word: “So the closest I can think of is probably “Wehmut.” I actually think I know exactly what you’re feeling (it is how I felt when I realized Trump would be president), and I think Wehmut somewhat describes it. But that still doesn’t really include the feeling of realization. If I had to express it in German, I’d probably say something like “Wehmut im Verständnis” ( Verständnis = understanding ) It’s funny because when I just put that into google, the first thing that came up is an article that talks about “Wehmut und Verständnis” that the Oktoberfest will be canceled this year.”

She also proceeded to send me an interesting article that discussed a complicated emotion as aticipatory grief; “ Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain.”

I came across the Portuguese word by chance through a short essay on aeon.com (my favorite literature outlet), the word is “Saudade.”

Saudade is a key emotion word for Portuguese speakers. Though akin to nostalgia or longing, the term has no direct equivalent in English. As the Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil sings in ‘Toda saudade’, it is the presence of absence, ‘of someone or someplace – of something, anyway.’ One can have saudades (the singular and plural forms are interchangeable) for people or places, as well as sounds, smells, and foods. One can even have saudades for saudade itself. That is because ‘it is good to have saudades’ (é bom ter saudades), as the common saying goes. There is a certain pleasure in the feeling. Though painful, the sting of saudades is a reminder of a good that came before.”

Lastly, the English word I came across was “Rapture.” The comparison of “rapture” to this feeling was brought forth to me by another dear friend and a man I almost loved. If you ponder on the way I describe the feeling of lifting, accepting, seeing, not doing, changing but being physically stagnant in your own will, then it truly makes sense. It is almost a rapture of the day, a moment, a life once lived and will never again be lived. Not in a morbid way, but in a way to say yes, that time, that past has come to an end, knowing there is infinitely more to come, realizing what is happening in that transition and just being. 

Through this quest and hunger for this emotion, this situation, captured by the setting of my sun I find myself still in search. Both, for the perfect term, as well as the ideal way of explaining it. The abstraction of my writing is not a style but a true reflection of the enormity that is that moment. It almost feels like an existential crisis captured in a passing minute. Is there a word in your language that may come close?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *