I was a little sad last week. I don’t know why. Being made the way I am, possibly just because the sun had stopped shining, and they were stocking up Halloween and Christmas stuff side by side in the craft shop, and so the long slide begins.
As I tried to analyse away what was affecting me, it occurred to me once more what a ridiculously, splendidly, abundantly specific language we have been blessed with.
It wasn’t depression, I’ll start with that. I can be as guilty as the next person of using ‘depressed’ to mean only ‘slightly less cheerful than I might otherwise have been’, though God knows I’ve reason enough to know better. No, I’ve never been depressed myself, can only imagine the soul shattering deadness within; and whatever this sadness was it certainly wasn’t accompanied by a disinclination to activity of any kind.
I wasn’t even down or blue. Down implies, for me, a sensation of permanence whilst the feeling lasts, even if the sensation itself is fleeting. It wasn’t that.
I hadn’t been upset by any specific thing. I wasn’t melancholy . . . there can be almost an enjoyment in melancholy, at least a satisfaction, a sense of the suitability of the emotion, of sadness in its proper place.
Yet I wasn’t dissatisfied, either, which was a surprise to discover in itself, when I’ve been so thoroughly dissatisfied with my work recently. It’s made me a little withdrawn and ill-humoured at times, but there was none of that, a little distraction, perhaps, but still a willingness to smile back and respond. Just, behind it, sadness; almost like a mourning, except that there was no sense of anything lost.
Well, short of pulling down Roget’s (and I’m tempted), I have chased it as far as I can. Nothing but pure sadness; whatever is left of that emotion when all other possible shades of meaning have been whittled away.
And it passed, as these things do. But I will try to remember that there are times when the plain word, without distinction, is the only word that will do.