Having a Blue Christmas? It's OK not to be merry and bright

Lady Life Lessons's picture

Doesn’t this time of year give you goose pimples?

No not just the North Easterlies or the insidious damp mornings that creep into every gap and flap of your mack.  But the earthy, decaying muskiness, the muted palette of faded hues, the glimpsed berry, dew-bejeweled cobweb and withered leaf that sings a torch song to the heart of all things passing and gone.

It is not the season to be jolly for everyone.  For some of us the forced merriment can have an adverse effect.   While everyone is tying themselves up in tinsel for others it's the bittersweet tang of sadness that can conjure up a whole cauldron of poignancy. 

Times past, absent friends; a much-underrated emotion melancholia can create a time for reflection in which acceptance and understanding can come manifest its own unique change.

When coaches and self-help gurus proclaim we must “let it go” - even with 16 years under my belt of coaching personal development I shrug and ponder “Er, how precisely?  It’s not that easy”.

It always seems as though we have to drop, shed or wrench something away from our lives like some kind of psychic plunger that should be done with determination and force and then, lo, we are happy shiny people again.

Just as the leaves fall from the branches with a delicate and imperceptible float, not wrenched or tugged, so it is that we humans “let go” and heal from the things that no longer serve us or have a place in our lives.

It is done via time, reflection and understanding then healing occurs and we are free again.

Gently, often without us noticing initially, it leaves us lighter and ready for regrowth after a winter of taking stock and renewal.  Our society seems almost afraid of sadness and melancholia as we fill our lives with quick fix smile generators from botox to prevent frowns and pills to blur the edges of the uncomfortable. 

It is a state of affairs that Eric G Wilson, an English professor from Wake Forest University calls “strange at best, troubling at worst”.  In his book Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholia he cites sorrow as the muse of many artists and writers from Lennon to Bruce Springsteen and warns that to rid life of melancholia is to rid life of a vital source of creativity.

Like me, a non-recovering melancholic through choice, Wilson goes on to claim “I think to be a fully expressed human being you must be willing to delve into melancholy as much as into joy. If we try too hard to get rid of that melancholy, it's almost like we're settling for a half-life.”

So often we do try to avoid looking at difficult or painful things, it’s just too hard to go there.  But just like any other unhealthy physical condition, just ignoring it won’t make it go away or heal it.  Life isn’t about the polarities of happiness or sadness but myriad of subtle interplays in between which, if we explore, we gain the riches of wisdom and insight – two precious virtues often won through painful experience.

Without the sublime reverie of melancholia how will you fully appreciate joy and pleasure in abundance if you have nothing to compare it to?  Where this is light there is shade.  Take refuge where you need to.

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