March 5, 2024

Melancholy is a beautiful word though it’s not a word on everybody’s lips. It’s something we all experience as humans, and for some people, it’s constantly there. We feel it when we realize that life is difficult and we are overcome with sadness or wrapped up in sorrowful thoughts. A melancholic person recognizes that life is terrible, yet meets it with solace and strength. Sadness is a part of the human experience. Sadness isn’t only necessary but also an unavoidable aspect of humanity. I think melancholy isn’t a disease that needs to be cured. Rather it needs to be understood. Society often romanticizes life as happy and full of enjoyment, but in reality, life is substantially about grief and loss.
Early 19th century authors and poets believed that sadness allows us to appreciate truly profound feelings such as beauty and joy; and that there is beauty in sorrow. In The School of Life’s video “On Feeling Melancholy,” they say living a happy life does not indicate you are vulnerable to loss and suffering, but rather you appreciate how sorrow contributes in development. Sometimes we sought solace in life and melancholy is something we even ask from time to time, for it provides an opportunity for self-reflection. It’s an underused and misunderstood word that some might think is miserable, but it actually means you understand that the world is full of unfairness that it is rare to find serenity and numerous people, even decent ones, are having a hard time.
Grasping that we haven’t been singled out and that our pain is shared by all humans is the wisdom of melancholy. Melancholy has a strong impersonal interpretation of suffering. It’s rife with sympathy for the state of humanity. Emily Dickinson, one of the most influential numbers in American poetry, wrote, “I measure every grief I meet with narrow, probing, eyes I wonder if it weighs like mine or has an easier size.” Dickinson finds herself searching for parallels between other people’s pain to her own. She finds some solace in the thought that someone else may undergo similar suffering, making her sense less alone. Understanding that sadness belongs to everyone and that you are not alone no matter how bad life gets is a step toward becoming more compassionate and less hateful in life.