Teetering..(Thoughts on Eric Victorino, essay for english 5.)

Teetering on the brink of depression is like the nauseating feeling of vertigo. You’ve climbed so high with blood, sweat, and tears and this is the moment you finally look over the edge to see what you’ve accomplished and it feels like the solid ground that once was is now sand slipping out from under your feet. All the strength you possessed has been drained. It would be so easy to let it send you careening back down to the bottom but, the time is now to make a decision: Fight or give up? Depression isn’t about being sad, it’s about not feeling anything and not fighting to live this beautiful life. It’s the inescapable feeling of unimportance and hopelessness that make one emotionally and mentally handicapped. It seems as though many don’t take responsibility for the way they feel and rely on others to make them feel good or sad and then blame those people for the way they feel. The truth is, there is no Prince Charming or Magic Genie to come save you from your woes and it’s all up to us to make the most out of this existence.

In Eric Victorino’s book of poetry, Trading Sunshine for Shadows, there is a piece entitled “It’s What You Hold Onto” and it begins, “Sometimes the most difficult thing is not to keep holding on but to let go. And you’re holding on tight to a defeated version of yourself.” I feel as though everyone can connect to this on a certain level. Calling an old friend to reminisce about the fun you used to have, looking through old photographs, using experiences from the past to define part of who you are now. Realistically, we’re constantly reshaping ourselves and seeing the world through new lenses, but is it always with the best intentions? How often do we reshape ourselves to please others? There is an international desire to be unique, but people are always chasing similar materialistic gain or that Disney romance. The disappointment that links when expectations are not met is truly a hinderance. Being constantly emotionally exhausted is an interesting state of confusion because the lens that you look through seems to be fogged to everyday activities. There are gaps throughout the day, little things forgotten: Did I turn the light off? How did I forget to put mascara on? Was rent due today, or was that last week? What is it about the “artist’s” brain that makes one depressive? Many great writers are know for being dark,  Kurt Vonnegut, Eric Victorino, Charles Bukowski, they all write with suggested themes of darkness, disappointment, and negativity. The same could be said for all great poets, and humans alike, we’re all fighting our own demons. 

Eric Victorino, singer, poet, is a man who has struggled with depression with many years.  His books of poetry are uncomfortably relatable for 20-something-year-olds with the ever present theme of doubt and self-deprecation. As an individual who has recently started to be comfortable with creating her own happiness, I feel as though Victorino’s writing style excites and inspires because his poems aren’t wrapped up in beautiful verbiage. His expulsion of feelings are not “feel good” reads and are definitely not pretty, but they are real. Yet, that is why his writing is so beautiful, it is real and links with the reader. The pressures of death and age scare this generation, complacency and what is there to learn from poets? Victorino taught his readers, one must endure and fight tooth and nail to survive and keep going. “I don’t know why my thoughts turn to death so often. My death. Your death. All of ours.[…] death is hanging in the fog above my bed. Until a new day chases it away. Death is in tomorrow and tonight if we aren’t careful. Yesterday is black with it but easy to avoid.” Avoiding feeling sorry for one’s self is very important and a difficult thing to do, but it’s a struggle that is not specialized for one person. Everyone has dark days and Victorino truly seems cleanse himself by letting out honest feelings about his darkness on to the pages of his book.

It would be such an easy life if there were no challenges, no sadness, no pain but, where is the fun in that? The challenge of living a full existence is not how much one accomplishes during their time on earth, but the experiences that come out of it. The first time seeing fireworks, a first kiss, a goodbye, the feelings felt from life is what makes it all worth while. Remembering these things is what keeps me from teetering off the edge to overwhelming sadness. “Maybe because you can’t let go, you don’t know what will happen. Maybe because it’s just easier to hurt. But it takes a lot more energy and effort to cry than it takes to laugh. Or to shrug to sigh and keep things how they are.” The fear of the unknown prevents some from reaching their full potential and it comes in many forms, making the first move, applying for that job, taking that day off, for what? Rejection? Disappointment? Being able to take the plunge and take full responsibility for yourself is the biggest challenge of all. Being able to be your own Prince Charming or Magic Genie is, to me, what happiness is.

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