the unnameable

Andre Breton said something that I find myself returning to time and again, “All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name.” I find this notion of the unnameable absolutely compelling: that something we yearn for but cannot put into words.

The past two weeks I have travelled tens of thousands of kilometres. My heart has broken as love, joy, pain and the rebirth that new discoveries bring, erupted within me. Now, as I sit here trying to find words that begin to do these experiences justice I keep returning to this notion of the unnameable and wrestling with frustration at my inability to describe the beauty I have seen and see everyday.

I am encouraged by something that Plato said:  “At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.” Marc Chagall tied in with this beautifully when he said, “In the arts, as in life, everything is possible provided it is based on love.”

Love not only catalyses our creativity – as we love and allow ourselves to be loved we are, in the words of  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, shaped and fashioned by who and what we love. As St. Thomas Aquinas said, “The things that we love tell us what we are.”

As we look at the things we love we are bound to see the best and the worst in us. I always try to remind myself that love involving human beings can never be perfect. And yet I wholeheartedly agree with Vincent van Gogh that it is the most significant thing we can do with our lives: “The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others.”

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