A discussion recently came up about melancholy. What a wonderfully complex word, for an equally complex feeling. Its original meaning has to do with an excess of black bile. What a curious image that leaves me with. The word itself sounds a bit like a mutant fruit-vegetable. Plus I’m rather fascinated by the fact that the spelling ends in holy.
But in any case I’ve been feeling a bit melancholy in the sense of pensive; defined as expressing or revealing thoughtfulness, usually marked by some sadness. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about old things. Much of it has to do with releasing old things to make room for new. That of course isn’t bad in itself; nor is melancholy bad. Our feelings are simply our feelings, and sometimes it’s good just to sit with them even if they leave us uncomfortable or challenged.
When my mom died, I found a rather unassuming brownish gray rock hidden among some of her things. It was a bit of a surprise discovery. She wasn’t a collector of stones, and I suspect someone may have given it to her, or perhaps she saved it as a reminder of some trip she had taken. I’m sorry I don’t know the history of it – why she kept it and what it meant to her. I would have liked to know. There’s a bit of melancholy there. And of course there are times, when no matter what one’s age, it’s hard to be a motherless child.
But the stone also symbolizes one of those grand little cosmic winks that delight me so. For it’s a holey stone. I have a great love of holey stones. I find them entirely magical, and they always seem to come to me under unusual circumstances. And so it makes me laugh to think my mother left a holey stone for me to find. I can hold it and hear her say “everything is okay darling.” She had a difficult life and she certainly wasn’t the most optomistic and upbeat person, so there are a lifetime of messages I could be remembering -yet that’s the one I hear. And it makes me smile. And that moves me a bit out of the melancholy.
So maybe it’s not wholly a stretch to see a bit of holy in the word; especially considering a holey stone is involved. And try saying that a few times and see if it doesn’t lessen the level of black bile. Thought so!