I keep thinking about this poem, today. Robin Williams’ character, John Keating, read it in one of my favorite movies, Dead Poets Society.
I also keep thinking about all of the great artists we’ve lost recently. Writers and actors. Some to depression, some not. All huge losses that have left a profound silence behind.
I’ve explored the relationship between the artist and depression a few times in my blog postings (The Creative Soul and Depression, What Music is Supposed to Do, and With a Little Help from my Friends), trying to better understand this disease that seems more prevalent among our creative communities. I’ve struggled with depression and I know many other writers who’ve voiced the same struggle.
This year, depression left its mark on some loved ones very close and very dear to me. The only thing I know to do for them is to listen.
And listen some more.
Maybe throw in a few dozen hugs just for the hell of it. Anything to tell them that I know this sucks, that I love them, appreciate them, and that I’m in this with them for the long haul. I hope if you’re struggling with depression that you find someone to listen to you. Please don’t stop until you do.
I leave you with the words of Walt Whitman, which, if you’re anything like me, you’ll hear in your head read in the voice of John Keating.
O Captain, my Captain! We will all miss you, dearly.
O Me! O Life!
O me! O life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I,
and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and the sordid crowds I see
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me inter-
The question, O me! so sad, recurring – What good amid these, O me,
That you were here – that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
– Walt Whitman