Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Melancholy: finishings, endings

This is Essay #19 of The 52 Essay Challenge, a series in which I write a new (unpolished) essay each week during 2017.

This week started another unfurling of the Long Goodbye.

After ten months, I will officially complete my 200-hour yoga teacher training this weekend. For whatever reason, I can’t help by feel fatalistic. Unlike the conclusion of my residency at VSC, this feels like a permanent ending, a closing of a book. Not a chapter, but an entire book. And I don’t know why.

It doesn’t make sense. Many of the people in our group are members of the studio where we are training. So I’ll see them in class from time to time. With some, I’ve developed a strong bond and will for sure stay in touch. Right?

But will we really? Will we really stay connected as closely as we have over the past several months? I doubt it. It’s terrible for me to say, I know. And really, I’m not a pessimist. So where is this coming from?

During the year, we tried organizing dinners and outings, but it never quite turned out like we imagined. Everyone was all in and then at the last minute (quite literally, as we’re walking out the studio doors), people would drop out. Things would come up: people would complain about being tired or remembering some forgotten commitment. And four people would be left out of the eleven who said yes. (At least that’s what happened this last time we tried.) Everyone has their priorities. And they’re not always in alignment.

But I think it’s more than that.

I’m feeling the pull-away.

Maybe it’s because I was at VSC during last training weekend. And while I did participate via videoconference, it wasn’t the same. (I know: totally nerd to do that –to participate remotely—but there’s so much material covered that the idea of trying to catch up was far worse than Skyping in.) I felt left out. It was an awful feeling. To not be part of the loving energy of that group? To not be physically present? That totally sucked. So much so that I started to wonder if playing catch-up was actually better. I almost hung up on the conference call.

That’s when I sensed the beginning of the Long Goodbye. And that this one was different.

During the fourth week of my residency, I was a little sad, but also felt hopeful. Inspired. I filled my creative well with so much abundance! And felt grateful for the people I engaged with, for the things I learned. Leaving didn’t feel like an ending. It felt like a moving on, but carrying the wisps of that experience with me. Like a tail of a comet.

This Goodbye feels weirdly final.

Everyone feels so distant.

Or maybe it’s me who’s (unknowingly) distant.

Or a little of both.


Melancholy is defined by Miriam-Webster as “an abnormal state attributed to an excess of black bile and characterized by irascibility or depression; a depression of spirits; a pensive mood”

Perhaps I am all three right now:

1. Black bile coats the inside of my mouth. Coats my throat. Lines my stomach. Its darkness radiates out into the rest of my body, weighing it down like lead. A shiny patent leather finish.

Is this what finishing feels like? To complete? To end?

1a. Irascible. Erasable. Melancholy erases. With hot temper. A pour of scalding water.

2. The press of a finger into the smooth surface of my spirit. De/press. To press down. To bring down. To sadden. Depress. Push pockets into smooth. Pockmarks. Spirit pushed down into earth.

3. Pensive in the pen that sieves thoughts, hoping to gather larger hunks of gold as sand sifts through, pulled down by gravity. Do you understand the gravity of this finish(ing)? The weight of this de/pression? Think. Ponder on the pond of her distance, her melancholy. That melody so sweet, so sad like butterscotch candy on the tongue.


While I’ve been able to function with some level of “normalcy” (whatever that means) during this second week back, I’m not sure I’m done with re-entry. I’m not so sure I will ever be done. What needs to happen is a revision of the old life to accommodate the revised post-residency me.

But as I consider the end of my yoga teacher training, a new Self is being birthed. I keep using the word “revision”, but that doesn’t feel accurate. I truly feel like a new version of me is emerging. Totally new. Not cosmetic edits here and there. Not a resurfacing. (Or is it? A surfacing of a Self long forgotten?) More like: core changes that result in a dazzling new Me.

And that’s not something to be melancholy about. Because, like Brenda Lane Richardson said: “great outbursts of creativity alternate with feelings of extreme melancholy”. The next upswing will be a brilliant outburst of creativity. I just know it.


So here’s the good news: today is Vesak Day when people celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha (forgive my oversimplification). Tonight’s full moon holds potent energy. Now is the time to clear the things that no longer serve us, to acknowledge the things that are coming to conclusion (YTT!), and to set new intentions for the next twelve months.

“A full moon can feel like the end of a chapter or the completion of a significant phase in our lives, as it brings closure, change, rebirth, as well as being a great manifestation of something new. It is a time where we can reflect on what no longer serves us so that, with gratitude, we can release old energy and create clean space to begin anew.” - from Elephant Journal

And suddenly, all of this makes sense. Oh, how wise the ways of the Universe.


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