Saturday, 27 February 2016


My melancholia, whether from disposition or habit, is like any man's; unable to be vindicated by stoicism or wisdom, happiness or patience, generosity or even godliness.

Melancholy is the character of mortality. Any man who is able to avoid all melancholic feelings from his thoughts, desires, and anxieties shows proof of an inability to fully and properly comprehend life itself; for to avoid melancholy is to avoid empathy, refuse comprehension and shun participation in reality. To hold to a perpetual tenure of happiness in life is ridiculous and absurd. Even Solomon himself held that "in the midst of laughter there is sorrow". Indeed, to not know melancholy is to make oneself unable to reciprocate true feelings and affection to another.

Melancholy should not be mistaken for depression, nor should it be joined with any other thoughts or attitudes that may legitimately be considered vain, egregious or erroneous in some way. Melancholy provides a window to different perceptions. It enables a deeper understanding of distress and trouble, and once understood, opens doors to the provision of support and anchor for the one suffering.

For some, their melancholia may have derived from a period of disquiet, an issue raising apprehension or even an event that caused perturbation. It may creep in during a season of distress or during a time of upheaval. The arrival or existence of melancholy is not evidence that something has gone wrong. It is not a state that requires correction or "fixing". True, a prolonged period of melancholy may be an accurate indication that help is required, adjustment made or support given, but the same can be said for prolonged periods of celebration, extreme physical activity, and over-work.

Of itself it has the same right to exist as contentment, peace and calm. Melancholia promotes contemplation, reflection, and personal insight. Just because it may lead  to an unhealthy measure of introspection does not mean it should be avoided or eradicated. That would be like refusing to teach children how to swim because some might drown. True melancholy does not focus on the inner person. It is not a self-indulgent, introspective, ego-centric, "woe-is-me" deportment. These conditions indicate depression, not melancholia. A true melancholy state provides a time of reprieve in order to assimilate the current season and conditions and to adjust attitude, approach and response. 

There are times in my life when I deliberately seek a melancholic disposition. I am careful to keep my demeanour appropriate when I am with others, but I find the environment and culture of melancholy helpful for personal stocktaking, attitude and perception adjustment and it assists me to maintain a humble and judicious attitude towards others and life in general. Melancholia can sometimes make me pensive and sometimes this may come across as being despondent or disconsolate, but I am rarely in either of those states. 

In short, occasional melancholy makes me easier to live with and that's got to be a good thing, right?

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