Sunday, November 15, 2015

Starry Starry Night

Every once in awhile, the blog comes out of retirement. No longer prolific, just a once-in-awhile commentary on things going on in this crazy world we live in... 

The lyrical genius Don McLean wrote the song Vincent after reading the biography of the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, a genius in his own right. It's a very powerful song. McLean basically was puzzled by the fact that Van Gogh's paintings were considered mediocre until many years after his death. Since our days in grammar school, we've always been taught that Van Gogh was crazy. But in the following passage, McLean takes an unconventional stance against history's perception of the artist...

“In the autumn of 1970 I had a job singing in the school system, playing my guitar in classrooms. I was sitting on the veranda one morning, reading a biography of Van Gogh, and suddenly I knew I had to write a song arguing that he wasn’t crazy. He had an illness and so did his brother Theo. This makes it different, in my mind, to the garden variety of 'crazy’ . So I sat down with a print of Starry Night and wrote the lyrics out on a paper bag.”

An interesting take on an even more interesting person. Van Gogh, who suffered from depression his whole life, eventually could not take it anymore and took his life as McLean describes in another part of the song...

And, when no hope was left inside on that starry, starry night, you took your life as lovers often do
But I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.

A beautiful song documenting an incredible life. Here are a few facts about depression from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:

-Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the US, affecting 40 million adults in this country ages 18 or older, or 18% of the population.

Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.

-Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.

 If you're suffering from depression or you think you might be, don't be ashamed to seek help. You are certainly not alone. Call your doctor. Reach out to friends. Most people would love to help, but are just unaware. Hopefully, we can continue to learn more about this horrible illness and discover new methods to fight it. And we may even save a few people along the way. I am confident of this and I KNOW we will. 

(This post is dedicated to Billy C., Matt S., Mariya S, and anyone else going through difficult times. Your community will never forget you.)

So much heartache captured in one song...