You’re All You Need

Dimitar Vangelov
6 min readDec 7, 2020
Art: Dimana Bratanova

I would like to use any attention that my work may generate to praise Movember for their efforts to improve men’s mental health.

You can find all of my work, including updates on the poetry collection and the book I’m working on on Substack.

It’s staggering how much meaningless work we create for each other. And we take it, we reward ourselves for it, we celebrate having more of it. As if we’re not busy enough, we create some more tasks on our own that come with no additional benefits, apart from delaying the time when we finally need to stay alone with ourselves. In reality whether we do most tasks we’re set or not, it wouldn’t make any difference to the world. Forget the world, even to the company you work for. No lifes would get any better. But one could get worse — your own. And it is this thought that makes us justify our worth by doing even more.

Gradually and unnoticed by us, our anxiety is building up over time. But certain days spark the light in the room and let you see the whole pile you have accumulated. These are the days when you struggle to do anything and unfairly label yourself ‘lazy’. Unable to get on top of our game again, it is days like these that trigger us to look for outside sources such as coffee, cigarettes, drugs, or even music in much more cases than we realise. It is also in a day like this when the only thing I’ve done was to write this poem that I have recently edited.

One other thing that we are good at creating and that I have been dealing at the time of writing is non-existing problems. We take it as a job, as if someone is paying for us to find stuff to worry about. Yes, the troubles are sometimes real. But they are never current — may have recently passed or soon to come, but at the exact time of dealing with them in our head they need not be taken care of. So with this poem, I just wanted to prompt you to let go of empty matter be it in terms of work or feelings.

It’s Okay

My thoughts at night are running wild

Of work and troubles that have piled.

I need to sort them out someway,

But I postponed that yet another day.

Today I didn’t say the words

and didn’t save the world.

Didn’t figure out

How to battle doubt.

Was wide open to life’s bluff,

Because I didn’t feel enough.

Thought of people that are gone

Even though I should’ve moved on.

Stared blankly at my empty plate

Then filled it up as I procrastinate.

My friends all seemed to be so busy,

And I was just sitting idle, feeling dizzy.

My blanket sheet urged a sense of guilt

That nothing new today I’ve said nor built.

But despite my angst, I whispered “It’s okay”

And that kept me fighting for another day.

I often wonder how different my life could have been if I’d not waited for too long. Whether the outcome would’ve been any different from what it turned out to be. So take your chances, and if you don’t see such — create them. If you’ve got anything to say or do that you haven’t already, the best time is now.

Wasted Chances

Soaring moods prepare me to sink low.

Got a chance that I found a way to blow.

Take a wrong step and the world would crush

I prefer to take things slowly and to avoid the rush.

On another high, trying not to lose it.

Got another chance but I never dared to use it.

Take no step at all and the world would hush

And you realise it was better to be wrong and rushed.

Trying to go high, I climbed with all the weight,

Thought I had one last chance, turned out to be late.

This poem is a direct result of my first encounters with Stoicism. It is an attempt to exhibit the philosophy in the context of some personal experience. That is also my first piece in which I modified the length of every row in order to reveal more than is written, namely, the fluctuating nature of our emotions.

It narrates of an encounter with Death that most of us occasionally have. Although it mostly shows uninvited, when we least expect it, sometimes we are also curious about it and tend to look around the corner behind which she’s hiding as if to assure ourselves of its existence. And we have to — it is essential to remind ourselves about it, because knowing that it is coming to meet us, and that the meeting has no set dates, should urge us to appreciate everything and to not leave anything unsaid and undone.

It also touches on the fact that we tend to put a lot more weight on the negative, rather than the positive from the words and actions of others towards us. For that reason, it may be a sensible idea to decline receiving any of the two gifts mentioned below.

The Man Who Made Death Miss

All men who ever lived in this baffling world of ours

Got these two gifts — bullets and flowers.

The latter’s life is beautiful but short.

And a bullet lasts until it’s shot.

Men load it to suspend the ache

And carry it with each step they take.

The bullets weigh, so they have to blast.

You could aim wherever, but you’re always shot last.

I’ve got a friend and he was gifted 16 bullets all at once.

His gun was loaded and grasped by two cold hands -

His and Death’s. Each put finger on the trigger

Then she whispered with a rigor:

“It’s either you or me who’d fire.

Do it promptly now or I will make it dire.”

She forced the weapon then towards his head

Two shots were fired, and she thought to have him dead.

But my friend pushed the gun to change its aim

Then Death dropped it, and he did the same.

For a moment brief, he was released.

Following the sun, he ran east.

‘Memento mori’ she did scream

‘The bullets in this chamber are still 14.’

He was shot at twice, but now even more alive he is

Because he looked Death with his eyes and made her miss.

Whether you realize it or not, each of us ties his own mental state in with an external source. We all have our own addiction that is supposed to make us feel more confident navigating life and more comfortable in our own skin. Ultimately, we want to have control over our energy levels and the way others see us. And it is hard to establish control on our own, so we look for assistance in something we’re more certain of than ourselves, which is almost anything but us — pills, people, drinks, diet, books, music, etc.

I wrote this poem to remind myself that no material possessions, no substances, no people nor their work should have any influence on the way I feel and that everything I am is enough. And so are you.

In You

In no substance have I found a remedy for doubt and pain.

Once the effect’s gone, more of what was there remains.

In no book, or essay, or a poem was it ever written

How to wrestle when you’re down and beaten.

There is no destination ravishing enough

To steal your gaze from what is tough.

No person could ever get as close

To relieve you in your lows.

There ain’t no speech

One could preach

To amend

And

No show

To make one glow.

Nothing in possession

Could defeat one’s depression.

Even listening to the greatest songs

Could only soften but not fix what’s wrong.

Even if you picked and tasted the forbidden fruit

You’d still have to dig yourself to get down to the root.

My friend, all you need to settle what you’re going through

Is in nothing else to find — You already have it only there in YOU.

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