me * lan *cho * ly pro. ˈmɛl.ənˌkɑl.i/
Adj. Affected with great sadness or depression, or of a thoughtful, introspective nature.
The ancients believed there were four personality types, corresponding to the seasons and the elements. The sanguine were like spring; the choleric were like summer; the phlegmatic were like winter; but the melancholy, they were like autumn. They correspond to the elements of air, fire, water and earth, respectively.
Who are the Melancholy?
The melancholy are the thoughtful ponderers who reflect on the tragedy and cruelty of the world. They do not live in the perpetual bliss of spring or the heat of summer but live in the time when things are coming to an end and winter is encroaching.
Because the melancholy temperament is thoughtful, it means the melancholy think about everything. They think things through and see results or the lack thereof. They are never content with status quo.
What is Wrong with It?
I am melancholy. It is my temperament. I think about everything; and I am hard on myself for my failings. I get frustrated with the bounds of my own efforts because I know we can do better.
Unfortunately, modern psychoanalysis has equated melancholy with some kind of depression. It is commonly taught that it is not healthy to live in autumn. Psychologists want everyone to be happy and content. Christians are the same, placing a great value on being happy and positively motivated.
There is no room for the melancholy in this world anymore.
The problem with that is that without autumn, winter comes as a surprise. Death is coming; it is an inevitable part of the annual cycle and an inevitable part of human life. Without the imminence of an end, we fall into mediocrity and complacency. Without the barrier of an impending terminus, we cease to strive for greatness and excellence.
I am so tired of people expecting me (and all other melancholies) to “cheer up” and “look on the bright side” and when we don’t, they suggest we get medicated.
We are not depressed. We’re not naysayers or black crows. We’re realists. If we were the only type of temperament, then the world would fall apart; but we’re not. We are balanced by everyone else. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.