Inflated Pride 

On my bed are two balloons: one, blue, and the other green. I bought them a couple of years ago in one of those dollar store packages of balloons you get at the grocery store or Walmart. Most people buy balloons for some party giving occasion, but I bought them because I intended to use them for a photoshoot for a student design project for a book about clowning. In the end, although I took the pictures, I did not use them for the project. Instead, I took a picture of a classmate wearing the clown nose I had bought. She had an anxious, almost sad expression. The balloons came home to rest on the television nook for a year. I took them off about a week ago, intending to use them for a friends party. I was a guest, but even for all of my outward hilarity, I felt out of place. For one, I was among the very few attendees who did not have children. Most of my friends were distracted by their offspring for much of the visit and our conversations only occurred in brief half-minute exchanges that are difficult to piece together into an entire thread. Thought is broken up, and lacking words to fill the spaces between us, emotion fills in the cracks. This time, it was anxiety and embarrassment for having become this old without a clear direction in life, and a certain sadness for being middle-aged and not having a place entirely of my own or a career that marks me as a reasonably successful person who has the means to provide solely for himself and, perhaps, one or two others. The balloons came home in my jacket pocket, and somehow, through a series of small and unremarkable and forgettable daily actions, ended up on my bed next to my evening reading material.


I have had a couple of tormenting dreams. The most memorable of which was not the one in which I experienced the hell of being in a place or among people who I did not wish to be around and responding to their terrible actions. No, the most memorable and meaningful one centered on how my vision of myself, my self-concept, is opposed to reality and is mildly delusional in a mundane manner. However, please do not think that I mean to say "delusional" that I imagine myself as some character like "Napoleon," or think of myself special and unique, apart from every other human on the planet. Other than the experience of being human with human thoughts when we find ourselves by ourselves with moments for reflection, I do not live in a world separate from reality, nor do I have such a disconnection with reality that I cannot operate as a functional member in it.

The delusions that I mean are the ones that the generality of humanity has about itself in our era. We each think of ourselves as the heroic actors struggling in the movie or play of ourselves, and how we are being either shaped by tragedy or accomplishment, we thereby achieve the natural results of our endeavors, endeavors that most of us judge to be good.

And yet, this belief is nothing short of vanity.

As young people, this sort of vain thinking is so extreme in its improbability as to be utterly laughable if it was mentioned aloud. As adults who have mellowed (or tried to) in their years, the struggles we imagine lend to our shaping as beings of pure virtue surrounded by difficulty are much, much more mundane. No longer do we imagine ridiculous success filled with fame and fortune; instead, we find our "heroic" struggles in paying bills, dealing with co-workers or relatives, or some other life event. But, in its way, this sort of thinking is can be no less vain or laughable.

Which leads me to my dream. I cannot say what the images were that played in my head, who the "actors" were in this dream, or what I saw. Frankly, I have forgotten it; perhaps, if I try to recall as accurately as I can, I saw myself. The real meaning of the dream was in its impact. I realized that how I see myself in my daily actions, how I comport myself in my head and the thoughts I have about myself, can be in complete and utter conflict with how things really are. My thoughts, which I believed were a reflection of reality, a pilgrim's path of virtue, were in fact, imaginings that were vain to a such degree that it led me to blindness.

My attachments to how I want my life to go, to how I want to direct myself to this new heroism of virtue, lead me to think of myself as an heroic actor. And yet, to really be a decent man, I have to give up this stupid thought. I am not a mighty hero, standing tall with a sword of nobility against the gales of ungodly daily enemies. Enemies representing everything from my propensity for anger when a driver cuts me off, or my pride of intelligence and creativity I feel I receive an unfair criticism about my work. Yes, I do need to fight against those things, to give up anger and pride. But to imagine myself as the heroic actor in this play of myself? That is too much limited thinking. It makes me the center of a universe that disdains me for silly haughtiness and spits me out towards wretchedness.

I must strive to be a better person who can attain virtuous qualities and do a good deed or two a day, but I should also give up the idea that I am a better person for doing so, because that leads to pride, which causes blindness, and then people fall. And when they fall, the fall horribly hard and damage themselves. There is another thought here about seeing the end in the beginning, about how recognizing how this path of pride and vanity will lead to falls, and therefore, seeing danger ahead, one can avoid it. But I will leave that thought for another time, so that I may better try to hold on to the feeling of being exposed in my dream for my vain thinking which has led me to this wasted day and feelings of remorse for the stupid things I say and do in these occasions. I truly want to be a better person, I want to be virtuous, but life can really show me up sometimes, so I have to guard myself from too much stupidity on my part and recognize that, for how much I think I know, I really don't know anything.

28 February 2011

Slight Frustration 

I think that I feeling a slight frustration from wanting to be more accomplished than I am at art and design, hearing about more people without training describe themselves as designers, and not knowing how to earn an income from doing what I am doing now. I have been told that I should write a book, but I don't feel the passion for it like I used to. I may think up an idea for a story or two, but really hammering something out does not seem like it is in the cards for me. I fear that I rely to heavily on cliches, don't do enough reading (like everyone else), and wouldn't have something to say.

Although, the creative idea that I have lately center on the nonsense tales of the 19th century. It seems like 21st century could use an update that isn't a mere imitation of the past. There are plenty things in the world that are ripe for parody and satire, and the deft use of metaphor would go a long way of helping certain people be aware of the layers of nonsense that have built up over the years. (If I may digress: maybe they are seeing it? There is a lot of tumult in the news lately in many countries. People are suffering under the burden of not knowing what to do or where to go to solve their problems. Another person reciting those problems to them in a literary way isn't going to put food in their mouths or make them less miserable.)

I guess I am trying not to get too stuck too much in a limbo of despair. Yes, there are a lot of people out in the world who call themselves designers and maybe do not have all of the skills that they need to have for that job. Maybe, the world is too much over-saturated in media anyway and a new designer isn't going to bring real change to the world. But then again, maybe there is still room for me. Maybe I do have something to say or offer to the world in my chosen profession that will set me apart from the rest. I know that I have some talent, but I am frustrated that some people still haven't recognized it yet. I know that I can do this and be great at it. I know that I can achieve this and astonish everyone, but getting to that point without succumbing to my old "friend" of melancholy is going to be the real challenge. I cannot let him chill my heart into inertia or inaction. I must continue to strive to do my best and not allow poverty to keep me back too much.

There is something real here and I have to work even harder in the next few weeks to push myself forward to get it done properly.

21 February 2011

All I hear 

Today was long day full of work, and frankly, I am tired. However, the weird bit was that I did not get as much done on my homework as I really needed to. I should have, but somehow it all got away from me. I think that when I get home, I will need to refocus a little bit and make my priorities a bit more firm. I need to finish an illustration, adjust some photos, finish a catalog project, make a mock-up for a website, adjust a word press template, and fit enough time in for rest and relaxation. I should have worked even a little harder than I did, but my mind is on vacation at the moment and I all hear is reggae music.

20 February 2011

Going along 

My last post was pretty gloomy, and frankly, I was in a gloomy place. I have done a lot of personal reflection since then, and I feel that I am in the midst of turning over a new leaf. I wish I could say that I had some kind of awakening that was like a jolt, a sudden insight that opened up a new reality, some kind of startling cause to get me to try and turn things around, but the simple fact of the matter was that I was tired. I was miserable and tired and did not want to be like that any more. Years and years of struggling and focusing on all of the bad things in life, things which were as real as the moon above, had chilled my heart to such an extent that I lost a lot of hope. Hope has gotten some bad rap, and I think most of it is deserved. Hope is like that one aunt who listens to all that airy flute music, is concerned about her cat's feelings more than the local homeless people, and thinks that good things happen to people if they think good thoughts. It's pleasant to think so, but if you're going to be able to move out of a lot of pain, you have to acknowledge that there is a lot of pain out there. Life is difficult, plain and simple.

Still there is an element of choice in how you feel about life being difficult. If you choose, or more likely, simply don't choose, life's ugly side will present itself to you with growing volume and intensity. It's like the absence of light, you can invite it in, or it can sneak up on you. However, if you allow yourself to think good things on occasion and do good things for other people (and not be so focused on your selfish needs and wants), then real hope, quiet hope for the honest small things in life, can begin to grow. And that quiet hope is like a rock, a visionary individual protected with the armor of faith from all of the poison arrows of doubts and sorrows.

I have chosen not to feel bad for the mean things in life, the sorrows, and the pains it holds. Yes, I still feel some sadness and confusion for some it, but I will really try much harder to not be overwhelmed by it. I will not allow myself to let its darkened arms wrap themselves around me and freeze my heart in its place.

All of that having been said, today was a little bit of a difficult day. It was a kind of day which, if I hadn't just spent a couple of months trying to recover and reconnect to better myself, I would have spent a few miserable weeks in bed. My artwork was rejected publicly for reasons that cannot or will not be made clear to me. I had more than one instance of someone making the wrong inference about me and my life. An instructor, without consciously meaning to, even teased me about my handwriting on an assignment. The sum total of those events made me feel, for the thousandth time in my life, like I was truly out of place. I feel as if no one really understands me or where I come from. If I could count for you all of the times that I have been called weird, unusual, or something similar, you would be astonished the number.

And yet, I will try and choose to see this as my particular path in life. There is nothing that I could do differently to change this day. It has already happened. I will try to remember the silver linings to these clouds and hope that tomorrow will go smoother. If life itself is an educational experience, then I can learn from it, and if I can learn from it, maybe I can get better at it as I go along.

16 February 2011