Melancholoholic Issue # 4

Sep 30, 2011 by

Before you react, listen for a moment. Pause that articulate mind of yours. Don’t immediately begin to unravel these words; dissecting, protesting, prodding, questioning, analyzing, separating, distancing, mocking, and finally comparing.

Just for a moment, try something that you might not do enough of these days: try to imagine, if you can, how your life would be if it were filled with boundless passion. Each and every day.

Not for a second do I believe that my words could lift 100% of those who read them to a place that allows them to feel this thing before they think.  I may hope for 10%, and that is enough for me.


Words can inspire passion and belief, and most importantly, give us hope!



This what this issue #4 of Melancholoholic is about, and it was inspired very much by the post I made on Sept 28, “So you’re a social activist are you?

It is remarkable the number of television shows out today like The Voice, Britain’s Got Talent, America’s Got Talent, Canada’s Got Talent, or the X-Factor: dancing, losing weight, world adventures and the list goes on.

Every week there is one more!

My friends, I know you can see as easily as I that these shows are not just trying to tap into a belief you may have that you could be, or should be, singing or dancing in front of millions. Crowds chanting your name, hands stretched into the air – tears of joy streaming down youthful faces in foreign places. No, no, that isn’t it at all. Some of you, including a good friend of mine. Mr. Tommy Blue. would just as soon cast his shoe.  There is this anger that he has that is truly in the right place; I don’t question it.

There are those who have become so deluded by dishonest friends and family that they step out onto a stage for an audition with no idea that they will be mocked and ridiculed  – and not just during their audition. Sound bites of their words, in which they express their deep commitment to their skill and how they will win and the world will chant their name long after they are gone, are echoed for weeks upon weeks. For some this is a fantastic delusion of epic proportions.  When they audition I often, through personal discomfort, fast forward, as soon as I realize that this is yet another T.V.-produced “oddity” for us to gawk at and mock. I understand what you’re saying, Tom.

Realists say the mockery is just, and that these contenders need to know, better sooner than later, that they are following the wrong dream and perhaps should try something that doesn’t require their voice or the moving of their feet.

And then there is, sadly, the majority who laugh out loud at these people’s expense, then move on without another thought.  Surely they must know that this laugh, triggered partly by the comedy of the auditioner’s unfounded belief, is the laughter of all humans when they are fearful, embarrassed and relieved that they are not the ones being mocked. This human reflex of relieved mockery is one of the main reasons that “Curb your Enthusiasm” is such a fantastic and penetrating show.

They are glad that they are “smart enough” to know their place in the world. But are they really?

Are you really smart enough to know your place in this world? You could have the dance steps of the very best there is and the voice of an angel, yet your only audience, ever, is the fridge and stove in your kitchen as you pirouette on an early morning preparing for work. As you get ready for another dull, life-sucking day in a  job you fucking hate, you sing and dance, and you feel just a little free.

Now, remember the day you sat and watched that buffoon on stage who made an ass of himself and was mocked by millions.  Sure he may be deluded, and yes he would be booed off stage in a Karaoke bar of any note. But my friends, while you were laughing at him, admit just a little that he/she had something that pissed you off.

He believed in himself, and that belief translated into action, and that action gave him a profound hope, if only for a few moments of his life. If I had to face a life where there was never to be hope at all, and I had the option to stand in front of you pouring out my humanity, and have that hope while I was doing it, even if only for five minutes, after which all of you cast your eyes away from me – I would choose that 5 minutes over a long life of no hope.

The ancient Greek word Thymos expresses this idea well: it means passion, breath, blood, and the human desire for recognition. Many go through life holding this concept close to their hearts. They may never have heard or read it before, but live it every day.

Dry intellectuals, pencils in hand, scribbling formulae on paper, proving their philosophical theses, will never know why Icarus flew too close to the Sun. Some things can only be understood by the heart. Hubris, maybe, but I would rather fall to earth from being overcome with joy and passion than never fly at all.

And on you go to work, that long ride on the bus, rain streaming across the window, faces on the street passing by, thousands and thousands, each one of whom want to be recognized.  And life is hard, life is joyful but never will life be all joy. We must seek out that joy and we find it in ourselves and our friends.

The ethical and beautiful who live among us want to be recognized and they know you do too.  And if somehow in this life, by hook or by crook, they reach the apex of their dreams, they will allow you and I to join them.

For many, hope is all there is. If you remove that, we have nothing.

For this author, I wake each say and share my clumsy words with you, with hope that whatever illness that assails me won’t take me from all the things I love sooner than I think it should.

Without this hope how would a child, who knows that he lives in squalor, and is hungry from the moment he wakes to the time he falls asleep, keep going? When there is no hope there is a certain damming of the human spirit – and it is then that only the most determined and lucky will prevail for another day.

So even with the sometimes mocking aspects of these shows, I can’t help but feel joy when I see the faces of the contestants as they realize that they are in fact recognized, respected, loved and believed in. What a feeling! I know this feeling; I’ve been fortunate to feel it a few times in my life, and I would never be unhappy at another’s grab for the brass ring, their catch and their eventual flight!

I’m glad that I can be along for a portion of their ride, and that I can share some of their joy.

So we must remember the “oddities” that had the bravery to take the stage. There is one thing they share in common with those that will in fact go all the way. They have a belief in themselves. Yes, for some, they may have needed to be gently brought back to the ground long before they took the stage.

But who are you and I to judge when the wax may melt, and they plummet to the ground.

I hear parents, siblings and friends perpetrating this injustice all of the time – trying to do others a favour by telling them that maybe they should quit what they are doing and get a job, go back to school, etc.

If you don’t really know much about what they do, and if they have some skill that may just need to be developed – who the fuck are you to bring them to the ground? Really, just who the fuck are you?

Sometimes it is hard to tell if you are playing the part of a jealous fool or a helpful friend, isn’t it?

Are you happy at that shitty job you’ve been plugging away at for 5, 10, 15, 20 years – does it fulfill you? Do you feel your Thymos is recognized as you move through your life, and if not, why would you ever deny the chance to another to experience one of the ultimate human longings – to be recognized and loved as an individual?

Please, tell me why you must try to tear down others’ dreams when you have given up on your own or perhaps never had any at all?

Now I think we are getting a better understanding of how these “oddities” make it to the big stage for their 5 minutes of fame. If all you can do is laugh, and not take a minute and wonder about that feeling of wonder and hope, then it is only you laughing.

Hope, deceitful as it is, serves at least to lead us to the end of our lives by an agreeable route.  ~François Duc de La Rochefoucauld

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