There’s something about this time of year that makes me feel…I don’t know.
I used the word “melancholy” in my last post when I was referencing this feeling – and I chose that word because I couldn’t come up with a better word choice.
It’s sort of the right choice. But not quite.
Here’s the definition of “melancholy” provided by my dictionary app:
a deep, pensive, and long-lasting sadness.
sad, gloomy, or depressed
And when I look at that, I see the problem: because I’m not depressed. I’m not even really sad. I’m definitely not gloomy.
engaged in, involving, or reflecting deep or serious thought
Still not perfect…but closer.
I don’t know what it is about this time of year, but around now (late-November/early-December; it’s December 1st as I write this) I start feeling really, really thoughtful. It tends to happen every year.
But it’s not just thoughtful. It’s like a yearning thoughtfulness.
Yearning for what, you ask? I don’t know exactly. I can’t quite put my finger on it. (Hence this blog post…to try to ferret out the answer.)
I can tell you that candlelight accentuates the feeling. Firelight too. Stars in an inky sky. City lights at night.
I find myself, this time of year, attracted, deeply, to the dark…and to the lights that warm it. That’s something that’s always true for me, I think, no matter what the calendar says. But this time of year, it’s STRONG.
And there’s something new right now: I’m aware, this year more than others, of my own alone-ness. It’s accentuating everything.
I’m trying hard not to say “lonely.” Because I’m not lonely…I really don’t think I am. I have a small but pretty tight circle of people that I feel close too…and I’m so grateful for all of them! How can I be lonely when I have people to love, to talk to, to discuss things with?
But…it’s true that I’m on my own, pretty much completely. This path I’m walking…I’m walking it by myself. Completely by myself. I do feel that – sort of strongly right now.
And now I have Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” in my head. Here’s that – if you for some reason want it in yours as well:
Actually, this is a great song for this melancholy-ish, pensive-ish, thoughtful-ish mood I’m feeling.
Something about this time of year makes me more aware than others of how I’m moving through the world – and some of that DOES circle around who I walk with.
The fact that the answer to that is “I walk with nobody” isn’t really a new thing. It’s just that this year it seems more glaring.
I don’t know why. Maybe because I’ve worked through most of the distracting problems of the last few years? I’ve put the bad relationship/failed marriage behind me, for example, and have a very pleasant friendship with my soon-to-be-ex-husband. This is definitely a very good development, for me and for my kids…but this nice groove we’ve fallen into takes away a very large distraction from my life. And with the removal of that, I’m left with…myself. And that self is (however contentedly) on my own.
And I really don’t mean that to sound as if I’m lonely. I honestly am not sitting here pining for “somebody.” On the contrary, I talked about my ambivalent “relationship” feelings previously.
It’s more, I think, that I’m just feeling myself, really feeling myself this year, as a solitary being…and I’m noticing that fully.
It’s not as if I didn’t know it before…but I’m feeling it more right now, for whatever reason.
I guess what I’m feeling this year is sort of like what I used to feel before I met my future husband. I was always very aware of my own on-my-own-ness. I’ve come full circle on that, I guess.
The fact that I’m feeling it as much as I am right now has something to do with the darkness of this time of year, I think. And, even more than that, with the flickering lights of the candles and the stars that break that darkness this time of year.
It has something to do with the cold, and with the warmth that comes from another body, and also from laughter and discourse – from connections. It has something to do with navigating personal landmines and wanting to reach some sort of safe haven from those – and knowing on some level that there is no such thing. (I mean, maybe there is…but it’s theoretical for me.)
What is it about this time of year that makes all such feelings so starkly present?
I wonder sometimes if it has something to do with my genes – with those ancient ancestors who anticipated their “famine months” around now. Is it inherited, instinctual, my response to darkness and cold…and to light?
My parents are really into genealogy right now. You can get these DNA tests done via Ancestry.com and they’ve both done it – and learned some interesting stuff.
Their enthusiasm has me thinking about the people who have come before me…and who they were…and what they thought about and believed in. There’s a part of those people in me.
My parents are intrigued with the idea of me and my brothers getting our DNA analyzed as well, as we might (and probably would) be weighted differently in different genealogical directions. This fascinates me. Would my brother the poet be the most Irish of us? Would my other brother, who resembles my grandfather, be more German? And what about me???
I wish we could know more about the people who came before. But not just about where they came from (though that’s pretty interesting). I’d like to know who they were, personally. I’d like to have a better sense of where I fit in, in the larger scheme of things.
Is this a uniquely American desire? I wonder. I tend to think that Europeans have a better (better as in more secure, more grounded) sense of who they are than we do in America.
I don’t know if that’s fair. You might understand who you are culturally or historically, but does it follow that you understand your own personal and family history equally as well?
I don’t know where exactly I’m going with all of this. I guess, to circle back around: I’m feeling very solitary tonight. And I have been lately. And it’s not an unfamiliar feeling for this time of year – though it’s stronger than usual this year.
But this doesn’t mean I’m lonely…not exactly.
There’s something very unifying in thinking about the stars in the sky, and the idea that every person on the Earth can share a similar view – and always has, throughout time.
But when you’re looking at them and you’re by yourself – it’s a strange feeling. This feeling of connectedness is there, yet you’re alone. You’re a part of the greater “humanity” – and yet you’re on your own.
That’s how I feel. That’s how this time of year makes me feel…and some years it’s stronger than others.
Even when I was early-married and sure I was doing the right thing for my life, I never DIDN’T feel this. I guess that’s probably telling, as far as the quality of the marriage.
There’s no other wisdom I can glean from this.
Incidentally, an EXCELLENT soundtrack to my current state of mind is my most recent musical purchase: Coexist, by the xx. SO GOOD. The tone, the overall vibe of it. I can’t seem to stop listening to this since I bought it.
I also really like Azure Ray’s As Above, So Below for many similar reasons. But not quite as much as Coexist right now.
Here’s “Angels” from Coexist. (This might be my favorite off the album…but the whole album is excellent.)