Early morning visits to the land of melancholy
Waking up at 3am in tears.
Oh, here I am again. The melancholy, sadness, grief, sense of loss, and other feelings that have no name. Darkness around me. Darkness within me.
It’s a familiar place, this land of melancholy. I think about Susan Cain and her description of the melancholic personality. I resonate with this description.
It’s interesting, because I am basically an optimist. And mostly feel positive about life and all of its precious gifts.
I also often feel sad. Both pieces exist within me. Simulaneously. Being human is complex, not easily categorized. Shades of gray. And lots of other colors.
Sometimes the sadness is connected to something.
Like aching for human touch.
Or aching for the comfort of furry animal companions long gone.
Or feeling the losses that having lived almost 70 years brings. Both internal and external. Parts of myself. Others who remember my name and parts of my past, my history, my story.
Feeling the pain of the earth around me, the trees, the creatures who have become extinct or soon will be.
Feeling the pain and suffering of the world and its people. War, violence, hatred, division, hunger, thirst, homelessness. So many different names for pain.
And sometimes it has no name, this feeling. This darkness. This heaviness within.
There is no escape, try as I sometimes might.
So I am learning mostly, to simply breathe into this place, this sadness, these tears. And listen to what they might have to talk with me about yet again.
And I learn. Slowly, sometimes resistantly. I learn.
I learn, each time on a deeper level, that this is part of the human condition. And that this comes ever more often with aging.
I seem to have earned enough frequent flyer miles to the land of sadness that find myself there without even having booked the flight myself. But, here I am. So let me look around.
Loss, grief. They are all part of life and especially even more a part of aging.
Knowing that I will turn 70 in a few months makes it all so much more real.
The reality of mortality. The knowledge, now very visceral, that I too shall leave this earth and this life as I know it.
That although I enjoy writing and painting and finding my deeper voice now that I am older, that this too shall all pass.
I hear the voices within that sometimes ask what the point of it all is anyway. Why bother with anything? What does it matter that I write or paint or do anything? What does any of it matter? Who cares?
And yet, I am still here and still alive. Still breathing. Still part of the population of living beings on this planet.
So I go to the laptop and begin to write. Perhaps someone else may relate to some of what I say. Maybe it can help someone. It seems to help me to get it out of me and into the written word. And, when I write, others who are in this land of sadness with me sometimes respond. We feel less alone for a moment.
I pick up the paintbrushes and paint a few strokes on a painting that I started weeks ago, but have not felt the urge to work on. It feels like the beginning sketch that I see on the canvas will never become anything. I have to have faith that maybe, as I have experienced before, that with each stroke of the paintbrush, the image will begin to come to life and speak to me.
And maybe this is what life is. Maybe this is one of the lessons that aging brings us. The gift of the wisdom that can come from this pain.
Maybe the lesson is to get up, through the darkness, and keep writing, painting, or whatever it is that brings us joy or feels as if it needs to be expressed. Because we are still here and our voices, in whatever form that they take, still clamor to be heard.
There are things to write. Canvases to paint. Songs to sing and dances to be danced. Life to be lived.