Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nostalgia and Melancholy

I was struck today (whilst walking the dog) by a severe sense of melancholy. Something about the decreasing elevation of the morning sun, the coolness of the air, the sudden thought that, as the buddleia was now past its best, I would probably not see many more butterflies this year. I am entering a state of mental inertia. There are no crisp new textbooks or timetables for me to consult this year, just a few desultory anticlimactic wrap-up meetings to attend, some dull administrative tasks that ensure my thesis is delivered on time. I remember the profound sense of anticipation, tinged with a whiff of fear, that surrounded my entry into full-time university education three years ago, an excitement that took me right back to the misty, blackberried September mornings of newly-uniformed bepencilled childhood. But all that has passed now. I knew it was a very special golden time granted to me, somewhat belatedly, but intensely welcomed all the same. Looking back, even knowing that I really did squeeze the most out of it that I possibly could, I think I could enjoy it even better now if I were to live those years again.
Will I feel like this as I approach old age and death?
Seize the day. I did, and it still slipped through my fingers. Friends move on, to jobs, distant colleges, new lands. I feel like the Cumaean Sibyl, doomed to immortality by Apollo without eternal youth, watching the world from her cave, knowing that she can never fully participate in it, nor leave it. Time moves on and despite my nostalgically longing backwards gaze, must carry me with it to a new place.
'If idly lost, no art nor care,
The Blessing can restore
And Heav'n extracts a strict account
Of ev'ry mispent hour.'

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