Melancholy. Not a friend, exactly. Quite familiar though. I’m trending towards befriending it.
What surprises me is what triggers melancholy. And how long I have to hang in the holding pattern to understand.
Last weekend I watched the movie Whale Rider again…and, since I had seen it before, I looked forward to the ending and redemption. All of the scenes where the heroine is ignored, belittled and and shamed by her grandfather reeled before me with perfect detachment.
One line, like a mantra, played in my mind: “I have no use for her.”
My father was a fifties man. He went off to work each day and worked hard so that mom could stay home and care for us. He had a lifetime supply of projects and provided all the nice extras for family time…trips to the ocean, summer weekends at a beach cabin and later, sailing vacations and he clearly loved me. But he didn’t understand me. In particular, he didn’t understand my melancholy. He had no use for it.
My simple solution was solitude.
Over the years, that solitude has strengthened me, given me solace and given me practice in staying. So even though I won’t say that I enjoy my melancholy, I am capable of giving it time and patience because I believe in it. Melancholy is my messenger. Without it, I go on my merry way and tend toward ignoring my inner needs. With it, I stop and listen…begin the necessary course corrections to find my true north again.
I am blessed to be self employed. Most days I can put work on hold or postpone it to later in the day to nurture what needs my attention. I can stretch my early morning walk and enter into dialogue with melancholy. I can linger in my sanctuary with a cup of tea, string word beads together in my journal, take a nap. There is always some gift waiting for me…some small aha! or release from the heaviness that allows movement forward again…perhaps a creative spark that draws me into another dialogue. Or maybe the gift is simply recognition of the ways in which I can value myself and the warm and fuzzy smile that spreads throughout my whole body.
So today, I’m calling out to melancholy. “Hey…I’m listening…”