Let’s Talk Petrarch

I’ve been reading Petrarch— Scott, my Euro Lit teacher, introduced him to me (well, introduced him to the class, but I took major interest and asked to borrow some books). Prior to this, I’ve known Petrarch only as that one Big Deal Poet Laureate who got the crown from the Pope who wrote love poems to a Lady Laura. Y’know, the standard famous poet stuff.

Now, I know he had never met Laura, and suffered from a crippling depression that I’m surprisingly familiar with.

It’s just weird, y’know, to consider that this figure of practically-myth is actually such a familiar character. He glorified Laura to frightening heights and longed to reach that height, but obviously never could. The funny part though? Is that he knew exactly what he was doing. He was making Laura unobtainable, and hated himself all the more for not being able to obtain her love. This self-crippling cycle seems a very modern thing— we rarely think of figures from Back In The Days suffering from anxiety and depression.

Self-doubt is a very familiar feeling for me, and… Well, I don’t know if it’s comforting to know that Petrarch also had it, but it is somewhat easier to forgive myself when I remember that. It’s such a funny thing, see— just being told that your anxiety is all in your head doesn’t really help, because if it’s all in my head, it’s all on me, and I’m making a big deal out of something that doesn’t matter at all, isn’t that embarrassing? It just makes me more anxious, if anything. Reading famous poetry that many people studied and liked and empathized with reminds me that it’s not just me. Other people are people too; I am not living in a world of perfect Lauras. I shouldn’t hoist the greatness I perceive in everyone else above myself, because that’s not fair to me or to them.

This has been a little life advice, to myself more than others. Just ease up, man. Make like Petrarch and write through the sadness. Frances should make that into a motivational poster.

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