Surrealist Doodle

Surrealist Doodle
This was used as the cover of Karawane in 2006 and I have included it in on a number of bags and postcards over the years. Someone on the subway asked me if it was a Miro. I was very flattered!

Monday, January 07, 2013

December Reflection

December--when the weight of an entire year bears down on you, forcing you to confront your feelings about all of those things that you’ve been trying to avoid or spin or pretend didn’t hurt you all year.

It doesn’t take an arbitrary date to make you start writing a list of resolutions or reflections. Yet I never pooh-pooh arbitrary days. The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. and so the arbitrary holidays, new years’, millenia, give us the license, the pause, to stop and reflect on our lives. But it’s no accident that every religion has a winter holiday, that most cultures start the new year in the winter, even though winter, cyclically speaking, is the time of death, and not of rebirth. We think we look ahead to the new year, but it’s the death of what passed us by, what we missed, what dragged us down, that garners our emotional attention. In the darkness of solstice, there is no where to look but back or in.

When you’re in pain, you always feel like you’re the one who’s been hurt or wronged, but it’s hard to distinguish, especially at those moments, who is the perpetrator.

Is there really one perpetrator, or do we just pass the pain back and forth? But where does it come from, when one minute you feel happy and optimistic and ready to take hold of the world and the next there’s a dull ache, a sluggishness in your walk, and a quiet slowness to your words, written or spoken. I refuse to believe it’s just chemicals bouncing around, that we are reduced to science and that our actually feelings are results of that, rather than active triggers. But I also find myself lashing out at people and confused about which came first--the anger or the sadness? Am I angry all the time because I’m sad, and am I lashing out at people arbitrarily? Or am I upset with someone’s, leading to the sadness? Is the anger “just” or not?

It seems like there should be one event you can point to and say “that’s why.” But it’s hard to tell. Is it the disjointedness of living in a world that contradicts everything your heart tells you is true?

The world that tries to sell you on war and violence and not to pay attention to the dead children and wasted lives of the enemy, who would kill you in a moment, they say, given the chance. The false dichotomy of your life or theirs. Better dead than red. Live free or die. But no one says it’s worth dying to live in peace. It’s worth being killed if you don’t have to become a killer.

A culture that tells you that consumption is good and money is important, even when you know in your heart that it doesn’t make you happy, that the pursuit of it sucks your time and your life way and makes you feel like an empty shell dragging itself down beige corridors trying to stay numb until it can catch a glimpse of sunlight, sleep as long as the body says, play, have sex, eat when hungry, dictate its own needs on its own time.

A culture that tells you that beauty is the most important thing in the world and then makes sure that what’s considered beautiful is nothing like you.

Or is the feeling of inevitability? That everything is pushing you toward this world that you didn’t create, don’t dwell in spiritually, and yet must pass through and make peace with? Is it the contradiction of your rage against fear, hopeless odds, being told not to rock the boat, not to make a scene, not to stand alone and face consequences alone? This is what happens when you must be silent but cannot. And so you turn on yourself.

Is it daily life? No money. Constant struggle and worry. Seeing that world is becoming a harsher place. Fear that not only will no one help you, but that no one will help anyone. Fear of being left out. Not loved enough. Not loved as much as other people.

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