My Case of 'Summertime-Sadness' and What It Taught Me

by JANIE LOUBSER

Reading Time: 5 mins

 Here I am, looking out over Lake Como from Villa Monastero's lakeside gardens, in Varenna, Italy in 2015.  © Photo by SteHan Botha

Here I am, looking out over Lake Como from Villa Monastero's lakeside gardens, in Varenna, Italy in 2015.  © Photo by SteHan Botha

join me as I explore The meaning of melancholy and discover a profound, yet simple way to feel happy—now. But first, a poem...

 

S U D D E N   L I G H T

I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell
I know the grass beyond the door
The sweet keen smell,

The sighing sound,
The lights around the shore.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti


Winter or summer, we've all experienced these seasons before. Each with their associated memories and meanings. And as one season starts to turn into the next, we cannot help but have expectations of what the coming season will look and feel like. The chilly air in the evenings as winter approaches, bringing all-too-familiar feelings with it. It makes sense that the start of winter brings a hint of melancholy to some people. But did you know that the reverse is also true for some and, in fact, more common...

 

I should know. For the greater part of my thirties I have experienced melancholy at the start of summer of all seasons. The sudden light of the approaching summer triggers familiar and painful feelings in me and since I’m turning forty (gasp!) This month I decided it was time to work out why a season—reminiscent of a time when I felt carefree—would trigger feelings these moods of melancholy.The reason why I was curious about this melancholy was because it didn't feel like a strong feeling such as pure sadness or pure happiness. Maybe you can identify with this - there was uneasiness; a restlessness even that hinted at something undiscovered. Sure, I know that when the weather is warm and the days are long, there is a pressure to look good and feel good. And when you're not feeling and looking the part it's easy to feel isolated and sad. But I had a sense that my melancholy was more than that and decided to press into the sweet sadness to see what I could find. For the past couple of years, I have worked deliberately at discovering what makes me feel good so that I can have a life that reflects the things that I love. And if something was turning my happiness into mourning then I wanted to figure it out —STAT! 

But I had a sense that my melancholy was more than that and decided to press into the sweet sadness to see what I could find.


So, I cautiously asked myself where the melancholy was coming from, bracing myself for sad memories to come. But instead, three intensely beautiful memories flashed before my eyes. One: I'm sitting on a sand dune in Jericoacoara, Brazil watching hundreds on windsurfers as the sun sets. Two: I'm standing on Montjuic in Barcelona taking in the view of the city, the harbour and the sea. Three: I'm standing in the gardens of Villa Monastero, Varenna, Italy overlooking Lake Como. I remembered these three moments vividly and viscerally. I realised that all three of these scenes had three things in common. One:  the colours were luminous. Two: I basked in golden sunlight Three: The water was magnetically pulling me towards it.  I could not contain the beauty I was experiencing and exploded with the desire to have more of this beauty in my life. I was recognising something truthful about myself – a deep desire for beauty and freedom. I could experience it right there through my memories and the pulling of the water showed me that I can have it in my future as well.  

 
 This was the spectacular view of the city of Barcelona, Spain from Montjuic (2015). © Photo by SteHan Botha

This was the spectacular view of the city of Barcelona, Spain from Montjuic (2015). © Photo by SteHan Botha

 

Then all of a sudden it all came to a cold stand still. I felt a sharp pain in my heart. Where moments before my heart was flooded with desire all that was left was a burning sting. Then I knew that I was the one who put an end to this experience. It wasn't the chill of winter, but the chill of my own voice telling myself that I can't have this. Thoughts in my subconscious mind were casting a shadow over the feelings of freedom and happiness I am meant to feel. 

It wasn't the chill of winter, but the chill of my own voice telling myself that I can't have this. Thoughts in my subconscious mind were casting a shadow over the feelings of freedom and happiness I am meant to feel.

 
What are your beliefs about being happy? Even if you believe that you are meant to be happy, do you know how to be happy? We were never taught at school how to work out what will make us happy, so we assume that we should automatically know what will make us happy. And if we don't know, we assume that we will stumble upon it. Both these assumptions say that the way to discover our desires is entirely passive and that it will be revealed to us by some outside force. Even worse is when we are prescribed by others what will make us happy or when to look to others and the world for our happiness.  Somehow it is more acceptable to look outwards for happiness. People who embark on a process of working out their happiness are often judged as selfish or even foolish. 

Once we recognise that the melancholy is just our own voices telling us that we shouldn't look for happiness or that we can't have happiness, we ourselves have to overcome the melancholy feeling that it will be pointless or shameful.

 
I want to say to all of us that it takes maturity to admit that we are not happy and that we don't have the answers –yet.   Once we recognise that the melancholy is just our own voices telling us that we shouldn't look for happiness or that we can't have happiness, we ourselves have to overcome the melancholy feeling that it will be pointless or shameful.  Just because it's summer doesn't mean that you will feel happy. We have to work out what our desires are and make them conscious. And then we can make it part of our daily lives. 

 

Your future happiness depends on your ability to be happy right here right now.

 
Working out what your desires are, takes courage, time and mental effort. But the good news is that you already carry most of the answers inside of you. Your desires are hosted in your soul area and you access them through our emotions. A good way to start is to make a list of the things you most enjoy doing. Then start doing them each day. And remember to savour and appreciate them. Why? Because on that list there will be things that will only be available some time in the future. Your future happiness depends on your ability to be happy right here right now. That is why it is Enliven's mission to inspire you and to show you how to create a happy, satisfying life. We will continue to write more articles about how to use internal and external sources of inspiration to discover what you love and how you can go about creating them.  


Have you ever felt the pain of melancholy?

Or wished you knEw what you truly desire? Or maybe you fear that your current happiness simply won't last? Please comment below and share what you're comfortable sharing.