What do you really want in life?
It’s a difficult question, but it may be the essential question.
Maybe you would answer with a concrete response, such as “I want sleep,” “I want a new phone,” or “I want to play more golf.”
Or maybe you would reflect more broadly. Some people even go beyond everyday desires to imagine deep yearnings for something more.
“Sehnsucht” is a popular German word with no simple English translation (click here for pronunciation). C. S. Lewis often relied on this concept in his writings, defining it as “inconsolable longing” for “we know not what.” Instead of “wishful thinking,” Lewis suggested how Sehnsucht involves “thoughtful wishing.” In my words, Sehnsucht has to do with an intense desire for something beyond our human capacity to fulfill. It is a sense that something is missing – something that, if fulfilled, would make everything complete.
To better understand, let’s consider some of the ways Lewis reflected on the concept.
In his “Chronicles of Narnia” series, Lewis states:
“Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning… a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and always are wishing you could get into that dream again.”