Help! I Have Ozymandias Melancholia!
Woody Allen is unquestionably an acquired taste, living out his own personal issues and difficulties through his movies in a haphazard but nonetheless comical way. I guess he's a bit like Marmite for many people, but the one thing he never shy's away from is a willingness to look at the human condition in all it's glory... and all it's madness.
In his latest movie, To Rome with Love, Allan takes a look at the specific condition less-commonly known as Ozymandias Melancholia. You won’t find it on WebMD, or in any other medical dictionary for that matter, but the condition refers to a depression arising from the realisation that nothing is permanent. Needless to say, the severity of symptoms are often intensified with the realisation that ‘nothing’ includes oneself.
It’s an interesting idea and something which inevitably afflicts certain people who are prone to a ‘what’s the point, it’s all going to end soon’ state of mind. As funny as that sounds to some, for many others this is a painful reality, the back-drop to everyday life. Whilst it’s pointless to try and rationalise the condition, it’s impossible to escape the irony that with the realisation of uncertainty and impermanence there could possibly be the potential to experience the absolute certainty of a permanent state of depression!
This idea is in sharp contrast to most meditation teachings, in which this realisation, when genuine, is said to set the mind free. It is considered a relief to quit pretending that we might live forever, instead exhaling deeply, experiencing a stillness free from fear. It is considered helpful to understand that the people around us won’t be here forever, thereby allowing us to drop all of the petty niggles we might be carrying and instead embrace others with a sense of appreciation, kindness and respect.
But most of all, it is considered one of the very best ways of remembering to live life in the present. Because how can we be lost in thought when we are truly aware of our own existence. This isn’t just some idea, a concept. This is a feeling, a way of being. And when we sit to meditate on a regular basis our understanding shifts from there to here, from a place of idea to feeling, from concept to being. Like drips from a tap, those insights slowly fill the bucket until we realise that what we were worried about losing, we never even owned, and what we longed to fulfill, was already full.