If you are to experience life as fully as possible, you need the widest variety of feelings you can get. Avoiding the unpleasant ones is natural enough, but you still need them. That’s why I believe that the people who experience the widest range of feelings, and feel them the deepest, are the ones most in touch with life. It doesn’t matter whether they come through being constantly active, watching the TV all day, or sitting ’neath banks of green willow staring into space.
And so I’ve come to the notion that, notwithstanding the etymology of the word, melancholy comes in two forms: black melancholy and what I like to call purple melancholy. It might also be called fake or false melancholy. Black melancholy is like mild to moderate depression; purple melancholy occupies a similar area, but has a hint of rose about it.
I’ve noticed, you see, that throughout my life there has been a repeating phenomenon. Whenever life has been treating me well – when there’s been no resurgence of the self-generating and self-perpetuating depressive tendency to push me into the pit, and no difficult circumstance to push me into the same pit from a different direction – I’ve sought the sanctuary of melancholy for the sake of blessed variation. I’ve wanted it and enjoyed it, which is why it has a rose patina. Fake it might be but it’s still melancholy, only it’s purple instead of black. And the beauty of purple melancholy is that it’s usually pushed away quite easily once you’ve had enough and want to move onto something else. It’s the moving on that keeps you alive.