How the blues teaches us to live

by Annelise Mitchell January 28, 2016

How the blues teaches us to live

“You’ve got to win a little… Lose a little… And, yes, always have the blues a little… That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love…”

And I would argue that the final line could also read, that that’s the “glory of life.”

If you’ve seen the film Beaches, an epic 90s film, you will no doubt remember a movie that reveals a lot of life’s (most terribly painful) truths.

Without recapping too much of the film’s plot (watch it now!), Beaches highlights the pain of betrayal, conflict and the many trials and tribulations of just getting by in life, but most of all … the pain of losing those we love.

This is what the best songs, movies or novels do, they reveal the harshest realities about life, and how people survive those challenges – they win, they lose and they suffer (sometimes great) moments of grief, sadness, melancholy, despair, ….

Call it by any name, all of life, for humans at least, has moments of the blues, at the very least.

The blues, whether it feels like momentary feelings of sadness (melancholy) or something that grabs us and takes hold for much longer, is there for a reason, telling us something is wrong, or what is happening to us is perceived as not bearable.

I see this thread in literature, film and in the many stories that I listen to when speaking with family, friends and clients. There is always, always, something that is underlying the person’s feelings. It may take some getting to, under layers of guilt, denial, bitterness, etc.… but those thoughts are there.

The thought, like the seed growing into a tree, cause the feelings, not the other way around.

There are tonnes of websites (I think tonnes but there could be more) that tell us that the blues are associated with brain chemicals, faulty hardwiring and/or our upbringing. These assertions may or may not be true.

What I have found is that the blues don’t just land on us, like say a flu or virus does. There is always something that we are either doing (that is not in our best interests) or ignoring (to our peril!).

I think what the blues also reveals is another hard truth…

Being human is hard. Each day we are faced with challenges, and many of these challenges we avoid, often causing us future suffering because we are not doing what we could, or should be doing.

Does this mean that because life is so hard, we should just roll over and let life go on its merry way…?

Definitely not, as that would not be living life to the full, as cliché as that sounds, it is true.

Each of us, regardless of who we are, our background, our genetics, our anything… is here to live a full life, including her not so good bits, that we would rather be without.

In fact, often, in my quiet moments, I believe the difficulties are there to remind us of what is most important, and to give us the time to shift gears, re-evaluate, or just take time out.

And, perhaps, most necessary of all, to make the good times more meaningful. But that is for a whole new conversation.

Of course, what causes human suffering is so much more complex than is expressed in this blog post, and there is so much more than can be said about one of life’s most painful topics.

Annelise Mitchell
Annelise Mitchell


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