Nursing a Blue

We’ve all had the blues. Its a special sort of sadness, a reflective melancholy that does not particularly want to be consoled. From the blues comes a deeper understanding of the world and of who we are. The blues are a window to truth, the time when your brain is naked, when the darkness presses in, asking questions you don’t want to answer.

I have been nursing a blue for about a week now. Just a singular blue, not enough to be crippling or debilitating, just enough to imbue my characters with the pathos that allows a reader to like them. Just enough sadness to make joy feel tenuous, and life an act of courage. The best characters are wounded, birds with broken wings that cannot be healed, but if they can’t fly, they still walk, and perhaps in the end they learn that flight is not about wings at all. Those are my favorite stories.

So for the last few days I’ve been riding this blue, keeping it alive (though I suspect I have no control over it at all), and writing every waking moment. Soup Boy reminded me to eat yesterday. Before that, I think there were days when I lost some weight. I have been consumed by this blue, and I have eaten it alive and sucked every last morsel of sadness from it.

The blue is fading now; I write this from a reverberation, the last echo of the bell over the graveyard.

12 thoughts on “Nursing a Blue

  1. Once upon a time, many years ago, some psychologists created a survey to find out whether career choices correlated to mental illnesses.

    About 90% of survey respondents who were writers suffered, at some point, from either depression or bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic-depression). And 100% of the poets were either depressed or bipolar.

    While the survey found a strong correlation, it did not determine a cause-and-effect relationship. Do depressed people tend to become writers? Or does trying to make a living writing cause people to become depressed?

  2. Or is it that depression and writing are not cause or effect of each other, but both caused by an undetected common tertiary condition?

  3. Is it merely a prejduice that happy, hygienic, well-planned, suburban middle-class life is too boring and lacking in Suffering to produce great Art?

  4. Unless you’re a sexy housewife, as portrayed on ABC. But I doubt any of them would be producing great art either. They’re too busy with … um … other things.

  5. It may be that writers and artists have the same ups and downs that everyone dies, but they are more in tune with it, and more likely to report it.

  6. Well, yeah, they pay attention to stuff like that while other people are busy shuttling the kids in the minivan, checking their suit jackets for lint during meetings, and selecting just the right color and consistency of carpet.

    Freud and Heinlein had interesting takes on “normal”. Freud’s leben und lieben — the ability to live (work) and love, and Heinlein’s ambitious idealized statement of what it should mean to be a human. Ah, What a piece of work is man! (Hamlet)

  7. Pat,

    Are you referring to Heinlein’s humble list of things all humans should be able to do — change a diaper, build a brick wall, kill and dress a buffalo, adjust the twin side-drafts on a ’53 Triumph, read (and understand) Proust, make a pie crust that is light and flaky, etc, etc, etc?

  8. All other gravatars have turned black, but John H’s is still functioning as normal. Still no successful contact with the gravatar website to troubleshoot.

  9. At this point, it’s important to note that I have nothing to do with gravatars. They work or they don’t, nothing I can do about it.

  10. Oh, no intention of accusing you of anything (BTW, your gravatar has come back to life). It’s just that with the gravatar website “closed for repairs,” I have noplace else to grouse. I’m assuming that the nonfunctioning gravatars and the website being offline are related to each other.

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