This Is Melancholy

“All the joy and anger and fear I felt as a kid has now become a series of facts that may or may not be correct and is irrelevant, anyway.”

Reckoning age is not easy, especially in this culture of youth. I, for one, like to imagine myself as 27, jewfro grad student, newly married but still stewing in the full potency of my past — I was in love, no doubt, and this love was fueled by all my previous loves. I could still feel Joy, my high school love, vibrating in my loins and heart and belly and schnoz. I could still feel the magnetic pull of Sabina, my college obsession, the resonance of her still palpating my heart.

With time, all this has come to fade.  Not the facts, mind you, not the memory per se. But the affective resonance of that memory is no longer there.  I don’t feel that pining for Sabina that I did for so many years. I remember the pining. Indeed, I can regale you with tale upon tale of my longing, my humiliations, my joys.

But the scent of the event has dissipated, its feeling gone. It is now a movie I saw ages ago — I know the story but I don’t feel the power of it anymore. In many ways, it might as well have happened to someone else. I don’t know it happened to me, not from the inside out.

And I find this loss unbearably sad. I am coming to understand, perhaps, that it is this loss that defines aging — not the loss of motion or hard ons or memory but the loss of our own past’s resonance.

Sometimes, I try to beckon these lost affects, try to charm them back into being, performing a perverse kind of seance for dead memories, for the dead me. It is a curious, difficult thing to do.  I  reach with all parts of my memory, not just for the images, but for the literal and metaphoric feel of it, for that sensation that permeated my belly, my blood.  I try to remember with my whole body, hurling not just my mind but my frame and flesh into the memory, into the vortex of the facts.  Sometimes, very rarely, I can conjure it for a fleeting moment, usually by finding virtual traces of their scent.

I wish I had a better way to manage this loss, a way better than my seance which is all too pathetic.

This loss is what’s become of my whole childhood.  All the joy and anger and fear I felt as a kid has now become a series of facts that may or may not be correct and is irrelevant, anyway. Their power, their resonance, is nearly gone all together.

This is not all bad. I have reconciled a lot of shit with my family, not because I forgive but because, frankly, I don’t feel all the anger and disappointment anymore. What seems like my noble gesture is, in fact, just a reality of aging.

There are times, I can still see myself in high school, high as a kite, so vital, rocking out with Willy Jacobs to Jethro Tull. Damn, Tull rocked me inside out. I was so enthused, so infused, by that maniac flautist.

So, from time to time, I will mine the Tull catalog — not on vinyl, even if I still own them all, but via Rdio on my iPhone — in search of that memory’s potency. I can find fragments of it on an album here and there, in a refrain, a lick, a musical apogee. But, as with my seance for lost loves, this conjuring is short lived and, in the end, feels pathetic.

Alas, this is aging. We become alienated from our own past, from our previous selves, from our youth. It can be liberating, sure, but I find the loss devastating. But I suppose such is what we might call maturity: bearing precisely this loss — not the loss of memory but the loss of memory’s resonance. TC mark

More From Thought Catalog

  • Erin

    Cool story, bro.

  • Anonymous

    … you’re 27.

    • Lindsay

       He’s older now…it’s a reflection on youth.

  • Girl

    You will feel it again. Just let go.

  • http://twitter.com/RonanConway Christopher Conway

    This is written in the style of a very cheap romance novel. 

  • Sarah

    Isn’t it… ageing? (Not aging)

    • http://mason-jar-memories.blogspot.com/ Grace Elizabeth

      “For the past participle and gerund corresponding to the verb age, American and Canadian writers use aging. Ageing is the preferred spelling outside North America. “

  • Lindsay

    Daniel, I enjoy a lot of what I read on Thought Catalog, but I especially liked this piece. I recently turned 29, and have been out of a long-term relationship (one that lasted almost 6 years) for nearly 3 years. And even after only 3 years, I can relate to your sentiment: “…In many ways, it might as well have happened to
    someone else. I don’t know it happened to me, not from the inside out.” And like you said, it is a sad feeling–not so much that the relationship ended anymore…but that the memory has changed. However, on the other hand, without this evolution of memories and feelings, we’d never be able to move on to find happiness in new places.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    wonderful… damn it’s memorable 

  • http://twitter.com/MissKimball misskimball

    nothing is lost, it’s just filed away to make space for new stuff.
    it will be right there for you if you ever really need it

  • http://twitter.com/adamhump adamhump

    good article dude, I feel you

  • Mon

    “But I suppose such is what we might call maturity: bearing precisely this loss — not the loss of memory but the loss of memory’s resonance.”-precisely. this is a wonderful piece sir.

  • Kaya

    So beautiful, I wish I would have written it myself. 

  • Anonymous

    I love this.

  • michi

    I am coming to understand, perhaps, that it is this loss that defines aging — not the loss of motion or hard ons or memory but the loss of our own past’s resonance.
    This line pretty much sums up why I feel the way I do right now. 

  • LazyReader

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
    I found this article in part interesting for reasons other than the intended……As a classically trained/conservatory actor, part of what you’ve described is what actors do in sense memory work: try to pull up the resonance of a moment from our past.   Sometimes it’s a scent that will act as a trigger, sometimes it’s a song. Othertimes conjuring the weather or a taste can bring something back with all the force of a freight train.  The really good ones do it (or learn to do it) with ease.  Sally Field has referred to it as “Emotional Cutting”.  It’s both a blessing and a curse to be able to do it so well. 
    Be glad that for you, the primary skill is writing! (and please, continue to share these thoughts so eloquently!)

    • http://twitter.com/MissKimball misskimball

      like proust’s madeleines

  • Guest

    this brought me to tears.  beautiful.

  • https://thoughtcatalog.com/kovie-biakolo/2014/12/the-place-of-melancholy-in-the-age-of-depression/ The Place Of Melancholy In The Age Of Depression | Thought Catalog

    […] this: The Sobering Reality Of Depression Read this: 5 Types Of Melancholy Read this: This Is Melancholy Cataloged […]

blog comments powered by Disqus