I am not melancholic. At least not in the definition of some of the ancient and not so ancient philosophers and physicians who described in various ways…
Its victim behaves like a rooster and cries like a dog… (Ali ibn Abbas al-Majusi)
…an immense sadness, a note of despair and a fashionable sense of suffering and deliquescence at the approaching end of times [which] suffuses court poets and chroniclers alike. (Johan Huizinga)
I bring up this term for two reasons. First because of the movie I’ve just read of which I can’t wait to see which is titled, appropriately, “Melancholia.” Ethereally beautiful.
My second reason is that I do, I suppose, fall into a small part of the definition of melancholia, not in its lycanthropic hallucinations or in its black bile-inspired hopelessness but in the shimmery cape which coats its darker symptoms: wistfulness, or “a sadly pensive longing.”
Longing for that curly haired angel with the deliciously chubby fingers who grew to be a man and now is ready to find his path, eighteen years from that day he emerged from my womb.
My friends asked me if his turning eighteen saddened me, and I quickly answered that it did not. But then I sat down to write him a note, and as is oft the case, in writing the truth emerged. As my brief but heartfelt words spilled onto the paper, telling him of how proud I was of the person he has become and how with excited anticipation I would watch him as he followed the paths and journeys that he would take, I did indeed feel wistful. In my reverie I was longing for that moment when I could hold him tightly and keep him safe. When I could make him happy with the simplest acts and gestures.
That was, in the end, the advice I gave him in this fleeting bout of melancholia: be safe but not too safe, be happy but do not deny your sadness, be strong but expect moments of weakness. Life is sweet, my boy, and I will always be here for you.