Is melancholy necessarily endemic to an impending dotage, and therefore inevitable?


Last night I slept very well and awoke feeling much my old self, a feeling that lasted into my midmorning only to be gradually overtaken by melancholy by lunchtime. I know, of course, that when I report to the lovely Dr. Furst, this bit about today’s ascending melancholy, she’ll want to know ‘why’ and ‘over what’ and ‘what do you think about that?’ So I might as well take a stab at these now rather than later, say after seeing her next Wednesday:  Just now as I was driving back to Building 233 where my office is located, returning after buying a large cup of Cafe Americano (and a scone of course) at the central cafeteria, my route taking me past much of the history of LLNL, I was taken over by a sense of “utter heartbreak and loss” to quote Malcolm Lowry. And I wondered if that were the fate awaiting all of us aged, especially those of us who feel they’ve outlived their usefulness or that there’s nothing left, and that as George Carlin quipped as how in the bottom of his breakfast bowl was inscribed—instead of a happy face, or ‘Have a nice day,’ or ‘You’re beautiful’— ‘All gone, dummy!’ This sense of loss is palpable.  So is this just par for the game? Is it that a sense of loss is endemic to old age and that that necessarily and inevitably  leads to melancholy, as surely as the seasons cycle each year from Spring into Winter? So, am I blue because it’s Winter now, and my body has become so keenly aware of my arthritis and tendonitis, and their attendant aches and pains, and my mind, of how a sought after, but less than familiar, name or word or even a complete thought will, more often than not, elude me. These serve as a constant reminder that soon simply walking the dog will be out of reach, not to mention caring for Maria’s garden—a sanctuary of sorts for her resident skunks, possums, raccoons and flocks of birds. Although my mind and my fondness for words seem as sharp as ever, accessing and embracing the new, e.g., writing, has become increasingly difficult to pull off. Bugger!

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