Art

Safety Bubble

B7 safety bubble

If I had to give a point to this picture, I’d say it’s the reason we need to keep art in schools. The substitute Art teacher, who we called Leprechaun Abe Lincoln, had asked me to draw the room as I saw it.

Some things that seem like abstractions are actually quite literal. The images floating behind my head were painted ceiling tiles. Every year, the graduating seniors would paint a ceiling tile, and they’d go up in the classroom. Eventually my class would get to do the same.

Every day, I came in the room, I was graced with the inspirations and ruminations of the students that came before me. It wasn’t just pretty pictures, it was that notion that causes one to create a work of art. What made each of them chose the image they painted? One was just a foot in black and white. This was what I loved to think about.

The horse and the backless chair are also objects that we treasured from the class.

Outside the bubble are anxieties I had, problems I was dealing with. I did this a lot at that time, drew these collages of everything that was bothering me. The art room made me feel safe. It was a haven for all of us. A place where we felt welcome, and where we could be honest, where we were free not only from the dangers of the world but also from the bullshit, which was the greatest danger of all. And as artists we try to cut through that bullshit.

I finally half-way graduated and got my own ceiling tile. Mine was so silly though.

I wasn’t a good painter, so I figured I’d go with sarcasm. I painted a weird cartoon person biting the earth, as though it were a beach ball. It said “The real world is going to bite you in the ass” on the top, with “Not if I bite it first” on the bottom.

I hope that strength and brass sticks with me forever. I hope I wasn’t wrong. Adulting has definitely bit me in the ass. It sucks .Maybe now I’d say “The real world bites us all in the ass. But some of us like it.” EAT THE PAIN. Haha jk. I have to pretend I’m strong, or, like that old ceiling tile that now sits in my room since the school got torn down, I’ll crumble to dust.

Writing

Eternal Sunshine of the Holy Anthem

We are all moving toward the sun.

Our destiny was always to become one

But like the zealot we get distracted by Gods

Like the completionist we get distracted by odds

Like the scientist we try say our fascinations

Are just an appreciation of natural machinations

And we know humility is a valuable skill

But we’re obsessed with aggressively asserting our will

The quiet, the silence…

Lost to gods, goals and science

Meditation. Hesitation.

Not allowed in this loud proud nation.

And here we are…

Moving toward the sun.

Our destiny was always to become one.

Keep grasping.

Maybe you can steal it!

Stand still.

And I guarantee you’ll feel it.

Art

Through Her Eyes

AAopenerelperfect

I have to post this picture first, and then I will explain. This girl had big dreams. Well, she still does.

My intent today was to discuss how people who suffer with depression and anxiety need to share their experiences. I, personally, have always been skeptical of our healthcare systems and institutions, so I’ve never seen a psychiatrist or taken any kind of psych meds. I’m not here to say that’s the correct path for anyone, including myself, but here I am.

So I thought, hey, I’ll start posting stories about various experiences on my blog.

And! A big part of this blog is to share my art. As you see in the photo above, I have all these books full of sketches that very few people have seen. I should mention that this sketch doesn’t show my technical skill, and I know it’s kind of fuzzy, but the subject matter is appropriate.

E3 through her eyes

But, in planning this blog post, I unearthed something else–a deeper story. A prologue, if you will.

Digging for the sketch was its own walk down memory lane. Once I found it, I prepared it and took a photo with my digital camera. And, once that was done, I put the SD card in my computer to save it and edit it. Now it was time to decide where to file it away. I was vaguely aware that I had an art folder which already contained some pictures of sketches, and found it quickly.

And then I saw this photo of me. I had forgotten about this picture–hadn’t looked at this whole folder for ages. (My sketches, both digitally and physically, have moved from house to house over the years, always tucked away for later.) The date shows it was taken in 2007. In one of those typical flood-of-memories moments, I remembered having this exact same intent–to start posting my sketches online–all those years ago. I had intended to use this photo for my first post, the file was even named “opener.” And there would be a tag line: Time to unpack all this crap! Something along those lines. A very ERMAGERD style photo.

Well, with that bizarre realization out of the way, I was trying to decide how to label and organize my sketches.

Then I realized, looking at the thumbprints, that I had also already taken a picture of this sketch. I had taken a picture of every single sketch from four different sketch books, and labeled them so that the cover of the book and all the pages within would have the same name. It was like I was repeating myself, and I felt like I had let myself down. Like I wasted all this time.

E3 THE HAND

What happened all those years ago? I had done all this work… but I never put my stuff out there.

Well, I have to admit some things about myself. This still happens when I approach a new venture or a way of expressing myself. First there are the normal, expected reactions of anxiety, trepidation, doubt. Then there’s the over-analyzing; wanting my work to be portrayed in a certain way, a way that is always too ambitious and then I give up. And then… beyond all that… is the very foolish and embarrassing part.

I always wanted to be famous. I mean, don’t we all? Most of us? It’s not just any kind of fame though. I have always wanted to make an impact. Make a difference. Not anonymously, though–look I’m a little neurotic, ok?

So, when I considered taking on a new project of any kind, I would weigh it against the possibility of… you know… becoming a BIG DEAL. And I would become paranoid that this was not the path that led to being a BIG DEAL. It would overcome my mind, rattle my common sense, until all these scenarios were spinning me in circles and I had to retreat.

It took until I was 30 to get past this notion. It took until today. These obsessions and delusions got me through hard times when I was younger. I built castles in the sky so that I would never give up hope. And now I am picking apart what was true and what wasn’t–about everything. About myself, the world, the nature of existence, my purpose, my future, my concept of success. In a way we are all going through that process. Hopefully I made a little progress today.

So I want to close out with a mantra. If you want to try something, anything, don’t over-analyze what might or might not happen. Don’t let the scenarios play out until they drive you crazy. I mean, use some common sense, of course, but too much is too much. Don’t cripple yourself like I did. Right now, instead of running scenarios, I am just looking at that open door.

So that’s the mantra. Just focus on the open door.

E3 curtains

Personal Stuff

The Cold.

Everything was so quiet. Snow does that–muffles sound. The night wasn’t so dark with the streetlamp right next to my car, not to mention the shopping center on the other side of the parking lot. When I stepped outside, the cold fell on me immediately. I could see my breath. I could feel my life seeping away.

Because that’s what cold is. Transferring heat–much needed heat–away from you.

But the quiet was still so serene. And the realization of death was awe-inspiring. I also had my car, right there, with the engine running. There wasn’t an actual fear of death–just stepping on the threshold and peaking over to the other side. Taking a moment to feel delicate.

It was snowmageddon 2014, Birmingham, AL. Like many people, I was stranded in my car overnight. Luckily I had snacks from an earlier trip to CVS, and enough gas in my car to run the engine all night. There were other options; nearby businesses, public shelter at the fire dept., and that strange but nice lady who had asked if I wanted to stay at her house. But the cold was trying to tell me something. I wanted to go on this journey alone.

Also the Fire dept was over a mile away. That lady was weird. And the nearby business in question was full of children. No thanks. I’ll stay in my car.

At that time in my life I seemed to have everything: a great career, a wonderful life partner, tons of friends, and a …. decently fulfilling spiritual life. But the cold was telling me something. My life was cush. It was cozy. And I was getting weak.

The truth is I put minimal effort into everything and enjoyed many comforts. I could feel this in myself, but honestly I didn’t know how to change it. No one wants unnecessary suffering. If we are offered comfort, we take it.

Well, I made it home, of course. The cold went away and I continued my cozy life. How do we foster growth in the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves? How do we impose loss upon ourselves when we have everything we need and more? I thought about going on a spiritual retreat, having some kind of ascetic experience, but of course I never followed through.

Now we live in a different city and all those things are gone. I never wanted to rely on comforts, I always wanted to be the type of person who sought challenges and even struggles. Boy, did I have some misconceptions about myself. The older you get, the harder it is to break old habits. I suppose I have some work to do.

Me and the cold are getting to know each other.