Saudade is a Portuguese word without direct translation in English, but which characterises so much of the Portuguese national character. It is a kind of deep, melancholic longing for something cherished but absent. The traditional Portuguese folk music, Fado, expresses this notion through beautiful, lyrical stories, usually sung with guitar accompaniment. A group of my Swedish clients at Quinta do Brejo were recently treated to a Fado performance by Manuel da Câmara – a dear friend of our hosts, Antonia and Tomaz Alercão.
Like all great art forms, Fado music resonates across cultures. Even to foreign ears these songs about love, loss, displacement and homeland speak of universal human emotions. It was a wonderful evening where friendships and memories were made.
It struck me during that evening how the concept of saudade describes well the feelings many of us will experience in our journey with horses. Often the guests I have welcomed at Quinta do Brejo, and to my clinics around the world, have expressed a powerful longing for a kind of connection with their horses that has been elusive, yet present for them. We surely can all recognise the feeling of catching glimpses of how our horsemanship could be without ever seeming to obtain it. It’s almost to have loved and lost simultaneously – to know we have had something heavenly in our grasp that we may never fully recapture.
But in the concept of saudade and in Fado music we also see the importance of communal human experience, of telling stories and of learning to see the beauty and power in our feelings of longing. I suppose this is why there is so much benefit in a riding holiday or clinic shared with others – there is great solace in seeing that our deepest desires, fears, disappointments and joys resonate in the experiences of other people. In sharing these important stories, we find companions, hope and pleasure in the journey to come.
In other news since my last post: I was very honoured to be nominated as a ‘Magic Mentor’ in the UK magazine ‘South East Rider’ by a dear student of mine, Christine West. She has a beautiful Lusitano named Zunido. You can see the article in South East Rider magazine here: http://www.southeastrider.co.uk/2013/south-east-rider-june-2013-2/