Reveling in Melancholy

I’m taking a one-post break from writing stories. I want to work on developing better endings that aren’t so abrupt and are more complete. Some writers are geniuses with this sort of thing. I’m not one of them, obviously.

Image provided by Sara @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/sarabiljana/
Image provided by
Sara @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/sarabiljana/

Before I looked up the word, I thought melancholy meant sadness or depression, which it does. However, it can also mean sober thoughtfulness; pensiveness. If you’re uncertain about the word pensiveness, it means dreamily or wistfully thoughtful. Of course, with both of these words, there’s other meaning too, but these are the definitions I want to discuss in this post.

The first time I remember hearing the word, melancholy, was when I saw the movie, Paint Your Wagon in the theater. That was in 1969. I wasn’t quite 15 yet. In the movie, Lee Marvin goes through a bout of melancholy, which is the type I thought was the only meaning of the word. I didn’t question the definition until I started dabbling in writing poems a few years later. I was going to use that very word, but began to question using a noun as a verb. Of course, the noun wasn’t going to work. That’s when I found the word, pensive, which fit in beautiful. What was the poem? I don’t remember and I have very little in the way of mementos from back then so I can’t just pull it out from the closet where all the junk is.

What got me thinking about these words and the means I’ve picked from the dictionary was the typical April weather that is in my area. Yes, rain, rain, and more rain. This kind of weather can put a person in the emotional dumps. Per contra, it doesn’t do it with me. Instead, I find myself making plans that I’ve avoided before, and going through marvelous “what-ifs” that have a possible future in my life.

This means melancholy too. Who would have thought — right?

I love that laid back feeling when I’m in that dreamy state. It’s peaceful, yet at the same time, inspirational. It has a weird ability to get my motivation going for whatever it is that I’m thinking about at the time, whether it be writing, chores, relationships, or as I’ve already said, whatever.

This realization about melancholy got me thinking about the different moods I have. Do I really have all that big of a problem with depression as a side effect of the General Anxiety Disorder? Or is it that I immerse myself in melancholy? If the latter is what is happening, this is more likely to be a good thing for me. It’s a time when I am organizing the files in my head. It’s a time when I am in the first stage of forming goals to achieve. This sure doesn’t sound like a problem with depression to me.

Inner reflection is a good thing in my opinion. Those who indulge in it regularly seem to like themselves better than the ones who don’t get into this exercise.

What are your thoughts on this?

 

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22 Replies to “Reveling in Melancholy”

  1. I love the word pensive. Certainly a mood where you’re wistful and dreamy, and it isn’t that entirely attached to down-in-the-dumps emotions. Agree that melancholy can take on different meanings, and funny how we always associate it with negativity, which is so not true at all. Hope the rain lets up where you are. It’s mid-autumn here in Melbourne and it’s going to be raining heavily this weekend.

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    1. From what I’ve read, your cooler months are more pleasant than your warm ones because you don’t have to worry about fires. I’ve seen pictures where people in Australia are wearing short sleeves in July and enjoying all the greenery of nature. Question: Is the rain cold or does the temperature stay pretty much the same?

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      1. It depends on where you live in Australia. Up north of the country, that’s where you’ll get tropical, humid climate and temperatures in the thirties (‘C) all year round – so you’ll be able to wear summer attire in winter if you lived up here.

        In the south, the air is much drier and at night winter temperature in the metropolitan cities drop to 5-10’C. On a normal winter’s day in Melbourne, the temperature hovers around 13’C but factor in the wind it feels like single digits. We do get rain, but it’s only probably a handful of days each month.

        So to answer your question, no 🙂

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  2. The general population would be well-served to learn the art of reflective thinking and writing and put it into practice more often. I had an English teacher who had a write in a journal five days a week for the first 10 minutes of class. Nowadays, such things get pushed aside and labeled time wasters, but that was the seed of a love of writing for me. Also, there is a fine line between reflective thought and rumination, which can tend to drag a person down if they give into ruminating too much.

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    1. Lately, my reflections have been ‘ruminating’. Lots of anger inside right now. I do, however make sure to get at least one paragraph in my journal each time that is upbeat and hopefully inspirational for me. 🙂

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  3. I experience self-reflection and introspection when I journal. It seems that is the vehicle that slows me down. At any other time, my brain runs at great speed, or maybe its that I have so many things i think about at once and accomplish little. Sometimes on Sunday, I let everything go to sit and read or stare into space but that doesn’t invite self-reflection.
    I do believe it need it, to clear our mind. Give it a holiday, while drawing on our subconscious mind.

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    1. I know what you mean, Tess. When I’m alone in the ‘computer room’, often as I’m waiting for CCleaner to do its thing, or trying to find the right word in my head, I’ll be looking out the one window that is next to my desk. I get a view of the residential street, which is usually quite deserted.

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  4. Of course I am all for inner reflection and I do think it helps us to understand ourselves and others a lot better. That state of melancholy seems to be neutral territory, a time to sit back and reflect.

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  5. I’m not a melancholy person. I tend to charge forward, always thinking things will work out better than I have any right to expect them to. When they don’t, I simply move on to the next. Maybe a touch of melancholy would do me some good.

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  6. Hi Glynis, I’ve always associated melancholy with sadness b or the blues too. Certainly something i wouldn’t want to revel in. So when I read the title of the post I thought write, this sounds depressing. Lol. Thanks for giving me a different way of looking at that word.

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    1. Most people do take the meaning you did. Now I wonder if Shakespear meant sadness in As You Like It. The one and only time I read the play was when I was 14 years old in my English class.

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  7. Reflective thinking sounds wonderful. It’s focusing on what positive changes can be made. Thinking about depression and how sad and isolated you feel only makes one more depressed. I believe it also keeps one depressed. Next time I feel myself slide into that depression pit, I’m going to use it as reflective time and see what I can change. Thanks Glynis.

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    1. You’re one of the few who really understood what I wrote. Learning to direct your thoughts with this process can be difficult at first. Don’t let that stop you though. Once you get the hang of focusing on how to make things better even if it’s only in attitude, it become real easy. ❤

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