Saturday, July 17, 2010


Melancholy is defined as depression, a moroseness that robs one of motivation and energy, an enervation of a severe kind. And yet, for me, someone who has experienced melancholy in varying degrees over the years, it seems like melancholy ought to have a broader meaning than just depression. I much prefer its secondary meaning which refers to somber thoughtfulness, a pensiveness that takes one to places where one reflects upon loss and pain, loneliness and forgetfulness . . . and . . . and the intentional forgetting of the ones who are not lovely and not lovable.

For me, melancholy takes me to those places where I am in touch with the pain of people I must not forget, because in most instances, they've already been forgotten by the people who are supposed to love them, who are supposed to hold them in esteem and cherish them whether they've been good or lovable . . . or not. It's easy to collect lovers and good friends, to collect admirers and easy acquaintances. It requires a lot more effort and a greater will to collect the unloved and the unlovables . . . and convince them that they are loved and lovable . . . and to convince yourself that you have the capacity to love beyond the usual boundaries and circles.

It has been said that love is an act of will, and I'll buy that. But love is also an act of emotion, and it is the emotional part of loving that incorporates every part of who I am, who I want to be, and who I fail to be. It is the emotional part of loving that cuts through age and class and experience and really connects me to another, and that other to me. It is the emotional part of loving that feels like an electrical charge that sparks and jumps from me to you and you to me, and we both really feel it. It is a look, it is a gesture, it is a sound that isn't words, that might be only an exhalation of breath that says everything that needs to be said. Words fail us and become unnecessary.

Children should have parents who love them, unconditionally. Children should feel that they've been chosen, over and over again, and not doubt that they've been chosen, even when they misbehave. People should have families who are there for them, in the tough times as well as in the good times. Elders should feel included and their contributions should be valued, even when they become set in their ways and repetitious. No one should be made to feel like yesterday's castoffs. Pets should have the companionship and support of their people even when they get sick and old and the economy is bad. We must ask ourselves, I must ask myself, "What is my role, what is my part, in making love known, in healing the corner of the world that I dwell in?"

Today, I write to say let us not forget people like Jayne Peters and her unknown despair. Let us remember those who are alone and dying this night. Let us remember those who are lonely and fearful tonight. Let us remember those who are imprisoned and depairing in darkness. Let our chain of remembering be the network of human caring that redeems our shared humanity. Let us not stop here.

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