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Friday, August 29, 2014

The Beauty of Melancholy

Happiness has been put on a pedestal, often described as the ultimate goal in a human being’s life. Depression has been demonized endlessly by thousands of internet quotes. So it may surprise some that there are those who find appeal in melancholy. I for one, can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had not lived through it. I speak from the vantage point of one who was once almost always depressed and alone to someone who has come to terms with his own skin and isn’t as lonely anymore.

All throughout my youth until my early 20’s, I was perpetually depressed. I wouldn’t call it clinical depression because I had plenty of good reason to be depressed. It was mostly because I didn’t have a lot of people around me, also because I wasn’t living up to my high expectations of myself. My self esteem was incredibly low and it severely affected my interaction with people. It was also during this time when I was at my creative peak. My creative outlets were visual art and writing –most of this blog was a product of that particular time in my life.

 Now my life is quite different. I now know what it’s like to be valued by another person, which I’ve discovered, is the biggest self esteem boost that one can get. I also have come to terms with myself, so to speak. The downside is I no longer paint and I rarely write. When I was depressed, all I wanted was for the depression to end but now that I’m quite settled in, I look for it. I’d listen to sad music, watch tragic films. Weird as it may sound, I occasionally try to induce sadness but It doesn’t come as easily as it used to.

The appeal of melancholy is difficult to describe. One sees beauty in it though it’s hard to determine if you actually feel pleasure or satisfaction from that beauty. It feels like viewing the world through a different lens. You see things that you wouldn’t normally see if you’re in a jovial mood, in the company of others. It makes one introspect more. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that most artists and thinkers also tend to be depressive. Marcel proust once said that Happiness is good for the body but it is grief that develops the strength of the mind.

Perhaps everyone is drawn to sadness to a certain extent. We watch depressing films, listen to sad music, we try to induce tears when we’re perfectly happy and it feels good, I think.

Or perhaps this isn’t something that everyone can relate to. But to the artists, the musicians, the writers, the couch philosophers out there, I think you know what I’m talking about -to look at the world, desaturated of color with a slight tint of blue, to appreciate the soft shadows cast on a cloudy day, Maybe it does take a keen eye to see beauty in gloom