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Modern Day Melancholy And The Tension Of “Normal” Life

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Perhaps it’s the time of year, but winter brings with it something of a struggle against melancholy.

Nostalgia for the past pitted against an almost by nature uncertain future and a hope that what is to come may be better than what we’ve faced off against.

Victories to balance losses, if you will.

Dawn to dusk, twilight to starlight, it’s a time that reminds us of an inexhaustible natural cycle seemingly spinning since time immemorial into which we all must fit in some capacity, whether winners or losers in the great wrestling match of life. 

Could it really be pure coincidence that a noted fan of the curious hybrid of performance art and combat sport somehow managed to utilize aspects of both to craft something both brutal and beautiful to sit alongside them?

But then given his own struggles, perhaps Billy Corgan was always best qualified to do so.

Having spoken of his battles with many a mental health issue arising from his own wellspring of anxieties, articulated most clearly in the sprawl of Melon Collie & The Infinite Sadness, somewhere between all too imaginable suffering and a sort of dreamlike catharsis–not for nothing did he call upon the production team of Alan Moulder & Flood, whose work with My Bloody Valentine contains plenty of both.

In the process of listening now, I find myself more and more able to identify with  the sole permanent Pumpkin, “waving goodbye to me in the rear view mirror, tying a knot around my youth and putting it under the bed,” though I still know not whether that’s a good or bad thing.

Aging has brought me many things for which I am grateful–first and foremost a wife and family. But some of those family and friends whom I would have dearly loved to share in that with are gone now to a greater or lesser extent, either deceased or distant. And that includes the two with whom first I glimpsed professional wrestling entering adolescence, when the possibilities and restrictions of life first made themselves glaringly apparent: my brother (living, loved but now distant) and grandfather (deceased & much missed). 

As someone with a relatively mild form of cerebral palsy, there is tension between the desire for a “normal”  life, even given the knowledge that everybody’s definition of such is different and the need to accept those times when the condition dictates that something you have no control over and will have to make certain decisions on your behalf however much you resent that.

A Zero branded under the skin as ever present as old Bill’s was on a T-shirt underneath that shaven head for most of the ’90s

How much time it has still to be worn or whether it will ever fade is not yet known. But at least it could and still can be temporarily removed in the right company–those who gave and continue to spare time, patience and support however grim the prognosis, helping more than they will ever really know. Even in the cases of those no longer in my life whether by circumstance, choice or the most final of farewell and goodnights–in some cases mercifully so–others feeling just plain cruel as their own respective conditions wore them away to nothing and in doing so leaving a struggle against the vast oceans of grief, fear and guilt. 

Sometimes I wonder if underneath it all I am still the boy who spent much of his past having to go where we fear to tread, fighting the urge to scream “take me down” as another fell to the mat while all I could do was stand and somehow avoid taking similar punishment.

Why I wasn’t beaten into submission then is a mystery even now and may always remain so.

But like those who routinely put their bodies on the line for our entertainment–the modern day gladiators on show in the entirely stage-managed new Roman Empire of amphitheaters and crowds baying for blood–there is a sense that there is a character I must play. At times not so far from myself but undoubtedly stronger than the mind and body which spawned him ever will be, fighting on two fronts for those who can no longer do so for themselves as well as to believe in myself as I believed in them, ghosts of times and indeed Christmases (difficult for all of those with an empty place at their table) past.