Given unfortunate recent events, I feel as though these words must escape and hopefully provide a better understanding, and prevent, the realization that is depression. Granted, I am no better than the next suffering soul, and I am not recognized. What I am, though, is a music appreciator and a survivor of soul-altercating thoughts. All of us, at least a once, have succumbed to some form of depression or another. Some seek professional help, some become addicted, some never crawl out, and some of us overcome. In essence, it is one invisible civil war.
With that said, I was appalled to see comments on Mr. Bennington’s passing immediately related to drug and alcohol abuse. And even worse: to outdo his close friend, Mr. Cornell. The big picture is that depression is a formality of being alive, whether you care to admit it. As every-day people, we struggle to survive and maybe have enough to keep us sane. We use art, film, music, and sport equally to escape.
Now imagine having fulfilled a passion that provides security for the rest of your life. Now add the weight of being a global icon in whichever field you choose. Imagine being adorned by strangers, who you may as well saved, through your commitment to passion. Imagine not being able to take a walk in the park with headphones on without being bombarded. Imagine treating your family or significant other to a night out without someone “discretely" snapping a photo of you and posting it without your consent; thus, trigging more snappy people to your current location. Imagine being so consumed in tour dates, meet and greets, award ceremonies, art openings, competition after competition, leaving little time to call loved ones, and have private moments to remind yourself why you are here in the first place. Now imagine not being able to trust the people next to you. Are they here for you or are they here because of you?
Try and find a soulmate willing to put their dreams on hold, if needed, who is not in it for the title and fortune your name drags along. And if you do happen to find someone, will they be content with the fact that you will be separated the majority of the year? Will you be able to trust each other and also be honest? Try coping with all eyes on you while trying to stay true to yourself (without drowning in a bottle).
It does not surprise me that “our heroes" are dying, putting on a favorable position so that we, as admirers and critics, do not see the reality of “living the dream." Truth is the purest form that we all wish to ignore. We also forget the undeniable fact that these celebrities are souls too. We have no comprehension that deep down under all the wealth, notoriety, and materials, they are soul-searching. We lack the feeling of spending a lifetime of making others happy that we would have to put ours on hold. Maybe the one thing they desire is also the one we want: happiness.
Their search hides in their lyrics, sculptures, sport, humor, and character; we sometimes forget to view the other side of the mirror. As spectators, we add to the weight of being famous. We hold envisions of what our inspirers should be and turn the cheek if they are not…if they chose to be themselves – this act we do to our loved ones and ourselves. Our consumption of being behind a phone or camera lens covers up the little imperfections that are our best attributes. We choose to take social media as medical entertainment instead of enjoying our natural existence. Yes, it’s not always pretty, but it is the ability to accept the mistakes, the thought of being human, and learning to live with it. Not letting it consume you or otherwise change you into not you. Finding peace is a universal journey we all share whether you are under the spotlight or behind it.
On a personal note, I lost a friend and musician to an overdose of medication and alcohol. I was guilty of not always wanting to listen to him complain about his life in another state, losing his apartment, girlfriend, and eventually his leg. Yet, I learned the basics of mixing records from someone who learned from his inspirations first hand. I learned from a guy who thought music was dying and taking a turn for the worst. Someone who never put quantity before quality. Someone who saw no other way out. I wish he could see the effect he left on the few of us. I implore each of you to take a step back, put down your damn phone, and listen to someone next to you. Throw away your assumptions at the next concert, stand-up, art gallery, or sporting event. Dare to be yourselves and dare to reach out be an actual humanitarian.