The Shadow of Melancholy

The Pivotal Moment Of Choice

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Deadlines. We all have them. We all miss some. Typically, when we miss a deadline…either imposed upon us or self-imposed (like my desired ones on this platform) can create feelings of discontent. Stalled projects, missed commitments, a lack of motivation, that desire to sleep through lunch and such that haunt our day.

Have you ever felt unraveled? I have. I do. It happens. Things are going well and something derails, undermines us, we hit a wall.

Photo Courtesy of Steven L.

This is where melancholy creeps into our life. Melancholy is that feeling on infinite sadness that comes from apparently no reason, at least no good or viable reason. It just happens. Autumn is the time as the seasons are changing that many people struggle with depression. Anxiety builds around colder weather, longer nights, bad memories of holidays… melancholy. It is only intensified by the fact that our culture expects us to rise above it as if somehow having a melancholy day is counterproductive to life.

There is a feeling that we mustn’t have any mental faults. Even as mental health awareness is growing to more of a mainstream conversation, it is still shunned by many.


We hide it. We suppress it. We put it in the shadows so no one else sees it.

Sedona, AZ. Famous for its red rock. If you have ever been there you will know exactly what I am talking about. If not, sit back and allow your mind to explore. When you look carefully at the red rock in Sedona with no trees, shrubs, or any greenery on them, you will see creases in the rock.

Each crease holds a shadow. Each shadow tells a story. It is within the shadows that we find credence, gravity, levity, appeal, substance, seriousness. As we pan back out to the rock itself, we can almost make out a face. This is us and our life.

What becomes clear is that we are alive. The rock is alive. It is within the pockets of shade where life is. These dark spaces are like pauses between notes in a symphony that come from silence. Our silence.

Inside the rock lines, these shadows are inherently beautiful. Although it is harder for us to see the beauty in our own shadows. Shadows are the parts we hide, consciously or unconsciously. They are the hurts, the disappointments, the failures, the struggles, the doubts, the insecurities, the heartache, the shame.

Cultural expectations combined with our own (skewed) expectations can produce a dangerous hunger of needing to be rescued from the shadows. We want to remove them, to wash them away as if they never existed.

We move to quickly dismiss those creases, those shadows and tend to see them only as darkness. We lose hope. What if, though, hope is found in the dark? What if the shadows of our life are there to regenerate us to our truth?

Perhaps the shadows are there to help us create a renewed sense of the self, one that is more authentic, more, real, more natural than we were before. Perhaps we learn the difference between being productive and being fruitful.

The truth…

The adversary is clearly defined – that there is a notion that another life [different than my current one] is the answer to our problems.

To me, it is apparent that it is inside the places of the shadows – the scars, wounds, failures – that undeniably draw me in. They invite, inspire, and comfort me to the reality of life. If I am willing to, they will even teach me how to arise out of the shadows and see the face in the rock.

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