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In Praise of Melancholy

 

Though happiness is the ideal that we all love to chase, the fact remains that sorrow is the solid underpinning of human reality. There is no life without a touch of grief. The possibility of failure lurks at every bend along the road. There is no mountain, however alluring it is, without its due share of boulders and ravines that impede your progress upward.


Certain truths are painful but also inevitable. You can’t avoid them. You can’t escape them. For example, the truth that most people won’t understand you when you desperately need to be understood. There are times when you wish that at least your spouse understood you better. Your best friend will ditch you when you most need help. Have you ever noticed that loneliness is a universal phenomenon? You can feel lonely in the middle of a party. The realisation that the other people are grappling with their own shame and sorrow must have hit you like an enlightenment more than once. These are just a few examples. There are other sorrows, innumerable ones.

That is how life is. Sorrow is the unheard melody that holds up the entire orchestra of life. You can’t avoid sorrow unless you choose to live in some private sheltered little world. Like a ship that never moves out of the harbour.

The ship has to move out. It has to face the storms and waves.

With sobriety. With sober melancholy.

Contemporary philosopher, Alain de Botton, describes this melancholy as a “noble species of sadness that arises when we are properly open to the idea that suffering and disappointment are at the heart of human experience.”

Suffering and disappointment are at the heart of human experience. There’s no escape from them. A sober realisation of that fundamental truth gifts you melancholy. It gives your smile a strangely seductive charm.

PS. This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.

Comments

  1. The phase of life that I am going through right now, it's like posts are giving me all my answers. This one is gold!
    Mayuri/Sirimiri

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for this super compliment. You will definitely tide over the present phase. And then smile...

      Delete
  2. Sorrow & melancholy are important too in my humble opinion. These help come to terms with loss and are part of the healing process. Never been more true than in the present times.

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  3. Suffering and disappointment are at the heart of human experience. There’s no escape from them. A sober realization of that fundamental truth gifts you melancholy. You said it. No denial at all. And what about that everlasting throbbing in the heart which is the result of suffering (and a sense of helplessness) only?

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    Replies
    1. Despair is capitulation. Disappointments shouldn't lead to despair but to certain realisations.

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  4. I do not know how to put across but I have been going through this phase for quite some time now. a setback teaches one a lot and probably because of this I can understand this post well !

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    1. I have endured much in my life. Now in the autumn, life seems to be mellowing. It should, na? 😊

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  5. Hari OM
    Such truth in this - I have often said that without the sense of suffocation, how would we know we were breathing? It certainly peppers life. I, however, am one of those annoying personalities that despite many lows can absolutely learn to float - or climb - away. The memories are there, but they harm me much less. Suffering unquestionably exists - we are left to find out how we deal with it. YAM xx

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    Replies
    1. It's great that you have such an "annoying" personality :)
      I too went through a lot of hells and came out alive if not kicking.

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  6. Loved the way the topic is put up. Such lucidity and clarity on such a complex topic. Guess we all go through the above mentioned phase and doubt our worth and sanity, posts like these reaffirm are beliefs and faith.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, we all go through tough times and each one responds differently... Ultimately the winner is the one who learns the lessons soberly.

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  7. Can't agree more...Pain and suffering is at the core....one should fight and come out of it....Thank you

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    Replies
    1. Struggle and win, yes, there's no other option really.

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  8. It's a strange concept to understand that sorrow and happiness could/must coexist. They're like the two sides of a coin.

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    Replies
    1. Undoubtedly. And sorrows must lead one to a kind of philosophical melancholy.

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  9. An interesting post.Perhaps when you find contentment within yourself, happiness and sorrow may not have that much of an impact on one's life.

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    Replies
    1. Can anyone reach such contentment that happiness and sorrow will have no impact? I'm not sure.

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  10. Such an insightful post! And true. If we enjoy happiness, we must learn to deal with sadness. However, we all have different ways of dealing with sorrow.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, we have our own unique ways of dealing with sorrows.

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  11. There is no life without some amount of suffering. I dont understand it, but its a fact. I guess thats why religion is so popular - to help us get over our downs.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, religion can help one to deal effectively with suffering.

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