Tag Archives: life

Purpose

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Frustrating, hard to watch, and gets old really fast. ::rolls up sleeves, spreads more love and beauty::

True story. I don’t talk about it much, but I have had a few deeply spiritual experiences, and this one took place 4th of July weekend, 1997. I remember the date, because when I pulled into my parents’ driveway in the U-Haul, one of the neighbors came over and joked that he thought this was supposed to be Independence Day. Ha Ha. I got in a day late, because the truck blew an alternator and I had to spend an extra night in Ohio. It was a magical vision quest that helped fine tune the compass of my life. And also helped me understand the opposition.

And I keep trying to make my contribution to the cause, and the haters keep stymieing the results.

Maybe the opposite of love isn’t always hate. Maybe often it’s just a total absence of concern for other humans. I’m not saying that there’s no hate—the guys in panel 4 are haters and proud of it—but they’re still a minority. The ability to not care about things that don’t personally affect you, that’s a common skill that happens to enable hate by default. Maybe if just a few more people switched over to the “spreading love and beauty” camp, that might be all it takes to flip the balance back toward the minority not deliberately ruining everything for the rest of us.

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Blue Web Mandala

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Looks like a dropped a stitch on the bottom right. 

Whew! Busy weekend! The Man got a year older, which happens to people even when they’re so old no one really cares anymore, so I tried to jolly him up. Friday night we went to a carnival and Saturday night we went to a cabaret where he got to celebrate his birthday by being dragged onto stage by a troupe of belly dancers. I also accomplished 2 pieces of art in that time, but very few hours of sleep, so now I’m kind of goofy and unfocused, so I’m just tossing this slightly askew mandala up here and then trying to persuade my brain to turn off in the next couple hours.

Actually, I’m pretty pleased with the direction things are going. Sometimes I wonder if I can deliver on the things I promise but there’s no reason to believe I can’t. But then I wonder if that fear is the real reason I haven’t come as far as I wanted. Somehow, once other people’s money is involved, my self-confidence begins to question itself.

The Altar of Experience

Steal your own life.

Steal your own life.

This is my little motivational poster from yesterday when experience kicked me in the head. The really sad part is that the knowledge I took away was something I’ve always known and only periodically forget, which is to save your work, you fool. In my defense, that’s what I was trying to do when everything crashed. This version is pretty cool, but the initial D in the original was so much more elegant. That lettering took about 90 minutes, which seems excessive. Why don’t I improve at calligraphy, something I’ve practiced all my life.

Constructing the altar of experience was a lot of fun. That little artist’s model really isn’t good for much; his legs are different lengths and his his joints don’t move very far and he’s actually not capable of assuming many natural poses. However, he does have magnets in the little wedges that serve as his hands and feet, which has possibilities. I considered a few items he could be holding in a 3D comic before I gave him the book and let him hang upside down. He could hold, for example, a tiny metal sword and shield. The idea for the text came after the visual concept, which never happens with comics, but sometimes does for bulletin boards.

Still have a couple comic ideas kicking around, but this stiff-limbed little wooden fellow has some possibilities. Got a few things in the works.

Revenge of the Helicopter Kids

Listen, you don't know my parents like I do. My parents are better than those other parents and they deserve special treatment.

Listen, you don’t know my parents like I do. My parents are better than those other parents and they deserve special treatment.

If you, like me, have 150 Facebook friends with school age children, you’ve probably seen a bunch of photographs in the last couple weeks featuring kids in new clothing and various attitudes of excitement or embarrassment holding signs proclaiming “First Day of Kindergarten,” or some similar sentiment. Well, my cousin posted a picture of herself hugging her 5-year-old with a caption explaining that she was probably the worst mother in the world because she wasn’t going to make him hold an adorable sign before he went off to school, and that the child would probably be scarred for life because of this moral failure.

So that’s where this comes from. But it comes from other things, too, like the Boy once again losing his Kindle privileges because he was watching YouTube when he was supposed to be doing homework. I’ve been thinking along similar themes, how we hold our kids to higher standards than we hold ourselves, and most of us would find ourselves without smartphones if some higher power took them away when we used them to screw around on the Internet instead of work.

My feelings on helicopter parents are well-documented. OK, there are worse things you could do to your kids, but when we’re talking about good intentions gone wrong, wrapping your kids in bubble wrap and protecting them from every possible bump the universe might have to offer while arguing with teachers, coaches, and other experts on particular aspects of childhood why your kid is better than other kids and deserves to be treated differently is a terrific way to raise a completely helpless and ineffective human being. How long do you plan on doing this, I wonder? When I taught at the college level I heard of parents trying to advocate for their kids, and a couple kids told me their parents were going to call me, but my standard response was that I wasn’t going to talk to their mommies and daddies because they were grownups and responsible for their own behavior. Legally, I wasn’t supposed to discuss their grades with their parents either.

Still, my supervisor assured us that parents would call anyway. From the kids, I heard firsthand that their overbearing parents didn’t prepare them for life after high school. They didn’t know when to go to bed without being told; they didn’t know when to get up. All their lives they’d been told they were the best, and suddenly it turned out that they were just like everyone else. And, having never been allowed to fail, they didn’t know how to succeed on a level playing field.

Seriously, moms and dads, back off! Your kid should be given more responsibility every year so that they have actual adult experience when they are 18. They should be allowed to fail, over and over, so that they learn about consequences and how to make better decisions. They should be taught not to throw a fit when they don’t get everything they believe they deserve. Otherwise, they are going to be mightily disappointed when college spits them out into the real world and they don’t get every job and raise and promotion they think the world owes them.

However, if any children would like to argue that I deserve something more than I’ve achieved in life, I would welcome the effort.

So Alive: A Green Mandala

Plant symmetry is affected by environmental factors.

Plant symmetry is affected by environmental factors.

This vibrant, playful Thursday mandala features a verdant, blossoming design and fresh, vernal color palette. It’s reminiscent of water lilies and suggest the persistent quality of nature, the drive of life to continue living, to move away from the source in an effort to spread life.

Life is on my mind on my 40th birthday. Not the meaning of life, or my purpose in it, since I believe those questions were settled to my satisfaction long ago, but the simple state of being alive. How much wonder and beauty and possibility are packed into this fortunate experience called life, how lucky we are to have the option to choose. Even if you can’t choose your circumstances, you can still choose your reaction. You can still choose what’s inside your head.

When We Were Very Young Part 1

This is the oldest drawing of mine I can lay hands on; my mother probably has something older. It's dated 1986, so I was 11 and in 6th grade.

This is the oldest drawing of mine I can lay hands on; my mother probably has something older. It’s dated 1986, so I was 11 and in 6th grade.

I spent a lot of time drawing as a kid and, at age seven, declared my intention to be an artist when I grew up. My parents bought me some acrylic paints for my birthday, but warned me that they were expensive and that I shouldn’t waste them, because I wasn’t getting any more. As a result, I painted one picture, was unhappy with the results, and never used those paints again, sticking to crayons and water colors (which my parents also would not replace when I asked; when the blue, green, and purple was gone from my paint box, my mother’s response was, “Paint something red.” In fact, my blue period lasted about thirty years, and my mother never understood why I couldn’t just use the other colors) and later, when I was a teenager and rolling in babysitting money, I began investing in more expensive colored pencils.

Flowers, 1987

Flowers, 1987

Even as a very little kid, verisimilitude in my drawings seemed very important. It was frustrating when what appeared on the page didn’t match the image in mind, but in middle school my sketches finally began to feel a little closer to life.

The Human Heart, 1988, Based on this image, my parents began to encouraging me to seek a career in medical illustration. I was only in 8th grade, but it was already becoming clear that getting me excited about their idea of a professional future was going to be an uphill trek.

The Human Heart, 1988, Based on this image, my parents began to encouraging me to seek a career in medical illustration. I was only in 8th grade, but it was already becoming clear that getting me excited about their idea of a professional future was going to be an uphill trek.