In Mary Poppins, the titular character tells Jane and Michael Banks that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. At face value, it is just a whimsical song about helping kids cope with the fact that medicine is repulsive but with a little help, the medicine can go down a lot smoother.
However, like most acclaimed pieces of art, there is a much deeper meaning to the simple lyric that Ms. Poppins utters to the two pre adolescent children. The spoon full of sugar in question represents an outside entity that can turn an unpleasant situation (the medicine) into a pleasant experience when that certain outside aspect is deliberately introduced (the sugar).
At the age of 21, like the medicine metaphorically coinciding with the song, I have had my fair share of unpleasantries. These unpleasantries have ranged from below average grades, piss poor relationships and even bigger life experiences such as moving. In essence, life is not easy. By suffering through clinical depression in High School, my perception on the world around me was forever changed. I view everything in the most nihilistic approach, my views are cynical and there are only two guarantees in life: taxes and death. I also soon began to view the world in a much more realistic light. I saw through the various distracting bullshit that the outside force X would throw at us, and the pitch was a fast ball right up the middle with the catcher whispering in our ear to prepare us.
These new attributes to my personality have very well carried themselves over to college. Currently, I am on my third college in as many years. I sat through the mundane classes at Belmont, counting down the minutes until I would eventually leave the institution that made me question human nature and how we act in order to one up one another. By the time I left, I had this overall assumption that we can’t work together in society; everything has to be a competition.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City was the bullshittiest of bullshit schools one could think of — a sorry excuse of a “film program” that the professors never seemed to want to take a vested interest in the students aspirations nor care about the curriculum and all of that reflected in the students attitudes for the program. I will admit, there were a few students who did care about filmmaking and wanted to succeed and it was tough seeing those students with potential waste away these opportunities on a program that did not care about what they put out to such students. All of this made me realize I needed to big or go home. I knew my abilities and my ego wanted to go to some place where the film program was nationally ranked — I settled way too much for easy way outs rather than taking the more fulfilling path towards my dreams. Then came The University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
UNCSA is a nationally ranked film school, has state of the art equipment, sound stages and connections that would make networking a piece of cake.
Now, this is where the previously mentioned sugar and medicine comes in.
The location of UNCSA is less than favorable. All my life, I have lived in big cities with so many things to keep one occupied even on the most boring of nights. UNCSA is set in the very (very) small city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, about 90 minutes north of Charlotte.
How do I make such a bitter thing (Winston-Salem) and add in an aspect that makes it easier to consume (the medicine)?
It has been almost a month and a half and I do not have the answer. I find myself in a rut of a routine — wake up, school, come home, eat, sleep and repeat. One of the major elements that I found best suited my depression in High School had to do with preoccupying my mind and soul with miscellaneous things around me to keep me happy and busy. Aside from going to school and driving down to Charlotte for work, I think I have only left my apartment a total of one time to do an activity where I could take my mind off of things and that was to see The Miseducation of Cameron Post at the local Art House Theater in downtown Winston-Salem.
To some, life is easy. You live your life without a worry and you find the simple things in life enjoyable. It is tough for me to full comprehend those things due to the makeup of my psyche after 8 months of therapy and countless dreadful nights where I thought nothing was worth it during my junior and senior year.
Winston-Salem scares me. I always worry about others and their well being, especially my fiancé who made the trip out here with me. But I take into account my mental well-being because I am petrified to fall back into that hole that I once thought was impossible to climb out of. I’m afraid that Winston-Salem will throw me back into that dark pit, that never ending hole of sorrow and repugnant thoughts that plagued me in High School. Most dreadfully, I think about filmmaking just isn’t for me. I look at the demanded workload that these professors ask for us while juxtaposing that with “mental breaks” and how it seems almost incomprehensible that they truly care about how mental health.
I have had late nights where I pretend to be asleep and think these thoughts over and over again. I tell myself that my spoon full of sugar will come but the cynicism overtakes my caricature psyche — the child like wonder that was instilled in my at an early age disappears in a blink of an eye and I’m left wondering if this is for me, if I rushed into everything due to the societal perception on what one needs to do after High School.
Maybe this is all just new school, new city jitters and things will work themselves out. That all of this is just the bad thoughts perpetually mocking my every move.
Every day I wish I had the answers to all of life’s questions — why am I here, why am I doing film, what am I benefiting from sitting in a classroom and having a director whose average score on Rotten Tomatoes is below a 20%?
I worry and worry some more but maybe my day of reckoning is still to come.