Fernweh. Hiraeth…

“I’m homesick for a place that I’m not even sure exists…”

I’m homesick for a place that I’m not even sure exists. The closer it seems I am to it, the further away it feels. The longer I wander lost, the more tired I become. That is why I must look up.

Up is the only direction that looks the same for everyone. When we look up at the night sky, it is almost the same night sky that our ancestors would have looked up at (give or take a few stars or so).

But how? I hear you ask.

It is a marvel that we have worked hard to unravel. And there is still more work to be done. We may be close to mapping the stars, but how will we shoot past them? How will we mark out on that celestial map where there may be monstrous anomalies? Our work never finishes; it lives on longer than those who started it.

But no matter how hard the work gets, no matter how homesick I may feel, I know that there is always a piece of home with me. It is a precious thing to love and be loved in return.

But safe in that knowledge is where I find my refuge. It is there in your memories – our memories – that I live and breath, laugh and dream, ponder and discover.

I am homesick for a place that I’m not even sure exists. But it doesn’t matter if I ever get there. I have already found home where you are.

[In response to being asked what life advice he gave his children]

“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.

Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.

Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.”

– Stephen Hawking, physicist, 8 Jan 1942-14 Mar 2018


On the 14th of March, 2018, I happily shared with my friends that it was World Pi Day. On the 14th of March, 2018, it was a Wednesday unlike any other of my Wednesdays.

On the 14th of March, 2018, Stephen Hawking passed away. Just typing it flummoxes me. This was a man – a legend of the scientific community and the global community – who, in my mind, could never die. There’s no way, I thought, that we’d ever lose Stephen Hawking. He’s discovered too much, taught too much, done too much for us, scientifically. But that’s exactly where he’ll be. He lives on in his work. He lives on in his teachings. He lives on in our memories of him. But, I guess, it’s not really the same. To quote tumblr denizen, skeletonmoon: “it just occured to me that I always subconsciously thought that Stephen Hawking was going to live forever”.

And I really did. I don’t think I ever had a doubt in my mind. He was a constant. His knowledge and research was a constant. And if you ask any physicist, they will say he still is. Because matter cannot be created. Just changed in form. So, to Stephen Hawking: May you rest in peace, wherever you may be; in this universe, or the next.


Song of the Post: For some reason, the first song I thought about (and listened to non-stop as I wrote this) was ‘May It Be’ sung by Peter Hollens…

“May it be an evening star/Shines down upon you…”

Fernweh (German): Feeling homesick for a place you have never been to

Hiraeth (Welsh): A particular type of longing for the homeland or the romanticised past.

[P.S. This isn’t written to emulate Mr Hawking at all, or use his point of view. This is simply my appropriated interpretation of the quote he gave about advice he had given his children, included in the post. I don’t assume to know any part of his life well enough to write about him, but that quote, paired with the prompt “I’m homesick for a place that I’m not even sure exists” from Writing Prompts led me to this.]

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