Black days, bright days

“Whatsoever I’ve feared has come to life, Whatsoever I’ve fought off became my life, Just when everyday seemed to greet me with a smile, Sunspots have faded and now I’m doing time, Now I’m doing time, ‘Cause I fell on black days, I fell on black days, Whomsoever I’ve cured, I’ve sickened now, And whomsoever I’ve cradled, I’ve put you down, I’m a search light soul they say, But I can’t see it in the night, I’m only faking when I get it right, When I get it right, ‘Cause I fell on black days, I fell on black days” – Chris Cornell, Fell on Black Days

When I was in college there was a street artist named Jimmy that sold his wares in front of the drugstore on Main Street. Jimmy had two subjects that he primarily painted, flowers and angels. He used bright colors in an impressionistic style reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh which drew me to his work.

Jimmy was a wild-looking character, who wore thrift store clothes matched with long tangled hair and a scraggly beard. Basically, he looked like a homeless man covered in red, yellow and blue paint. Jimmy also suffered with manic depression and alcoholism which, sadly, was a train wreck waiting to happen.

Jimmy would have long stretches of creating these beautiful paintings in a flurry and equally long stretches of simply disappearing and then suddenly reappearing on the street again. I learned later that when he disappeared he was in a room a local business man provided him above his store. Jimmy would stay in bed for weeks at a time, with the shades pulled in his dark tiny room leaving only at night to buy beer or wine.

What I discovered about Jimmy was that his art, and his creativity, were tied directly to his mental health. He expressed the relief that he felt from the torment his mind put him through on canvas. The bright colors that he saw when things were good was a reflection of his mental state, at that moment. I always wondered why he didn’t paint when his moods were dark. I got the answer several years later after Jimmy’s death from an art dealer who sold many of his pieces, he simply couldn’t. His paintings were about happiness that he expressed in colors. If he couldn’t see it, if he couldn’t feel it, he couldn’t paint it.

I am still struggling with Chris Cornell’s death just as I have struggled with the suicides of other people I know and love. Part of me understands because I have battled my own demons of darkness. I also understand how alcohol and drugs are used to self medicate through the pain. I have traveled that road as well. But what was Chris missing? What could Chris not see that millions of adoring fans, like me, did see. How was Chris’s creativity tied to his mental health and did something change recently between that balance if you can call it a balance? Sadly, those are questions only Chris can answer and now he won’t.

I beg, I implore anyone that reads this to ask for help if you are depressed. I know, first hand, that life is worth living the good, the bad, the up and the down. There are so many adventures in front of each of us. And no the days ahead may not all be gum drop and rainbow days but that kind of life doesn’t exist for anyone. But even the dark days are moments spent here with people who care and love us. People that want to hug us and hear our voice. I don’t know why Chris couldn’t see that. I hope the rest of us will and do.

“One does not become fully human painlessly.” – Rollo May

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About ends and beginnings blog

I am a frustrated writer and poet waiting to be discovered. A stand-up philosopher performing on a street corner near you. A Christian with questions but I don’t want to hear your answers. A Buddhist with a bumper sticker on my truck to prove it. A collector of quotes. A grower of lettuce. The Patron Saint of earthworms who name their children after me. A cyclist whose big ass strains the seams of his Lycra bibs. I am American by birth, Southern by the grace of God. My goal in life is to leave an imprint on the lives of the people I love not a footprint on the earth. I am a son, a husband, a father composed of 65%-Oxygen, 18%-Carbon, 10%-Hydrogen, 3%-Nitrogen, 3%-Diet Coke and 1%-Oreo.
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10 Responses to Black days, bright days

  1. “One does not become fully human painlessly.” – Rollo May — love that truth

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “This too shall pass.” I know those words are overused and trite. But, in my battles with the demons of addiction and dark days of depression, that is a constant which keeps me looking forward. Tomorrow might be worse than today, But tomorrow could also be a spectacular dawning of new insight. I appreciate your sorrow and loss, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I struggle with this one – on the one hand, if the person is suffering so much that they just cannot see the light, then who am I to try to convince them life is worth living? Is it selfish to want that person to remain here, battling their demons, when surely death provides relief / release? I’m all for suicide prevention, mental health services and such, but I admit, when confronted with a friend who attempted suicide, I was torn over how best to help them. Sigh. The women in my family have suffered from some sort of depression / mood swings / disorders on down the line – there have been a couple of suicides and several attempts. I spent most of my college years drinking heavily and putting myself in situations where my death was a possibility. I didn’t have the guts to do it myself, but I would have been fine with something else taking me out of my pain. My daughter began experiencing similar mood swings when she entered college. I would lay awake at night in fear that one day she’d call and say she couldn’t stand it anymore and was going to take her life…what the hell was I going to say?

    Thought provoking post as usual my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was shocked by Chris’s death too. He was a great singer.

    Liked by 1 person

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