Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Parallel in the Universe

In the wake of a special and utterly timeless man's passing a few weeks ago, I know it is my turn to speak, not only for my own processing, but in the service of apprising a society that so often shrugs off discussions of mental health.  Robin Williams was a man of many eccentricities, and yes, anxiety was one of them.  His toils, his strains, his pulls, and his stresses made him into the sensitive, exuberant, and completely empathetic man we had the pleasure to know...a man who has surmounted endless discomfort, accomplished so much, and brought joy to so many people.  Just try to tell me this man (with his pal Koko) is a coward who took "the easy way out."

I don't claim to be an expert on Robin Williams, his work, or his stressors, but I have encountered many degrees of perturbation in my life.  Living on a university campus alone qualifies me as a frequent observer of mental exhaustion and overproduction.  And while many have suffered more mental anguish than I, I'm certainly no stranger to overthinking, over-worrying, and overloading.  While these activities may sound harmless at first, their repercussions are countless.  The slope into potentially disastrous measures is often slippery indeed.

My intention in writing this post is not to prescribe a mode of thought or action to anyone, be it a man who too often contemplates such struggles or one who never devotes a single morsel of thought to them.  Rather, I wish to express to everyone that mental distress exists and that no one is immune to it.  Because we are high-functioning humans with brains and emotions capable of rocking the universe, it's no wonder many of our psychological states share a term with that of disruptions in the galaxy around us.  Take "perturbation" for one.  My handy MacBook dictionary lists as one definition: "a minor deviation in the course of a celestial body, caused by the gravitational attraction of a neighboring body."  In other words, one body--man--becomes inundated with "attractive" insecurity and/or frustration, leading this body to stray from his desired course of action.  Unlike in the galactic sense, however, perturbation in the human sense does not always stop at the minor, but often crosses over into the injurious.  But maybe the structure of our universe can shed some literal light on the subject.

What at last prompted me to complete this post was a brief yet undeniably poignant tribute to Robin Williams made by Billy Crystal at the Emmy's last night.  A key component of Crystal's speech, time is an element we often associate with the universe, a foundation constantly moving forward yet preserving its history arrantly intact.  Crystal notes about Robin that "It's very hard to talk about him in the past because he was so present in all of our lives."  He goes on to compare him to "the brightest star," in "the comedy galaxy," no less.  More important, he extends the analogy to a "celestial body," long cooled, but whose "beautiful light will continue to shine on us forever."  "Robin Williams [and a legacy trickling with every bit of light we have all produced], what a concept" indeed.  Darkness doesn't stand a chance.

If the universe is any indication, it's not remorse or aggravation that we ultimately contribute to our surroundings.  It's all the joy and magnificence that precedes, coincides with, and follows it.  Take a cue from the stars and let darkness recede into smaller and smaller portions, slowly but surely.  Relax and reward yourself, because whether you feel you're in a good place or not, you've already given so much light to the universe, light that is unique to you and to the strength you carry in being human.  This strength can empower and it can hamper, but as a source of energy, it cannot be created by anyone else, nor can it be destroyed.  The galaxy is in this sense the quintessential win-win situation: your worries pass with time and become negligible darkness, but your triumphs transform into the light you see before you.  I'm no physicist, and this is just a theory, but I think we can all see who the natural victor is here.

Plunging your head in the clouds--or the stars--is not necessarily the frivolous practice your parents warned you about...

Take a shot at it,
Amanda :)

Trench: Saks Fifth Avenue.  Jean jacket: J. Crew.  Necklace: J. Crew.  Shoes: J. Crew.

All photos by Sean Su.

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