In mental illness, as the case in life, art plays a huge role in making us feel alive. Listening to music, playing an instrument, drawing, painting, writing etc., are all great ways for us to meditate and reflect on who we are. Additionally, these are great tools for us to connect with ourselves and engage with our passions; this can help us, especially in moments of mental distress, to see the beauty in life, appreciate life, and for art that is collaborative, enjoy creating with other people.
For me, art has been a great way for me to learn, engage with people and find happiness. I have always loved reading books on topics that interest me. For mental health, I have turned to fictional works and journals that have enabled me to understand what mental illness is and learn how different people and societies cope with it’s different manifestations.
I am also a fan of poetry, though I am usually afraid that sometimes it passes over my head, but that's ok :) And just today, I was having a conversation with a friend and they mentioned how life can be overwhelming. True, if you look around, there is reason to see the gloom all around us: corrupt politicians, war, famine, hunger, wealth inequality, violence, joblessness, and a myriad of other very real calamities that face our society today.
Faced with these facts, I did not know how to console my friend, and I was left at a loss for this. But a few hours after our conversation, as I was thinking about my friend’s predicament, I remembered a poem that I had read a while ago, a poem that I would like to share with you here. It is a poem about hope, and a poem that, in such a grim a life as we live today, ignites the soul and always makes me see and appreciate the beauty that there is in the world, despite the chaos. I hope it will have the same effect on you as well. Enjoy:
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
Be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and enchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
Be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
– by Max Ehrmann, 1927
*Desiderata is the latin name for “desired things”