I know that sometimes, when I post stuff, it almost sounds like I know what I’m talking about. I don’t (not really). The more I know, the less I know I know.
I reread stuff and realize that I sound like a pompous ass (sometimes I am, but mostly not-this I know). I cringe and wonder whether I should share when things bubble up and ask to be written down. I’m an extroverted introvert, so sharing is difficult sometimes. I don’t really like small talk but I can be good at it. I know how to draw people out but struggle to keep from withdrawing myself, of letting people in.
So today I was thinking about how, when life is complicated, my natural inclination is to simplify it where ever I can. This leads to less than optimal choices, sometimes, but there is only so much time and me to go around.
In that vein, my lunch today was leftover pizza and Lynda Barry’s book, Syllabus. It is brilliant and encourages exploration. I haven’t made any visual art in a while and just reading the material is causing a niggling remembrance… an urge that needles me until I grab something to doodle with.
I like books that make me think, that make me stretch and reach beyond what I am comfortable with, whether it’s a concept introduced within the context of a story (of a novel, say) or whether it’s in the form of a workbook of sorts (as is the case with Barry’s book). I have shelves of books that do these kinds of things. One can’t help but grow if one is continually reaching out to be challenged by them.
Sometimes I challenge too, with my writing or my artwork. I think the nature of creating is, as Lynda says in Syllabus, is the act of “being present and seeing what’s there” and “something inside one person takes external form – contained by a poem, story, picture, melody, play, etc – and through a certain kind of engagement, is transferred to the inside of someone else. Art as a transit system for images”.
I propose that it is a transit system for a kind of symbiosis of emotional experience.
I’ve come to find that as individuals, though in part we share much, our uniqueness makes it difficult to really walk a mile in another pair of shoes. We only have our own point of reference through which to see the world, no matter HOW empathetic we believe we are. We relate whatever is happening through our own emotional sensors and more than likely misinterpret how someone else is experiencing life because we stream it through the container of our own experience.
I think we are pattern-makers; we correlate things in order to gain better understanding of self and other (which also keeps most of us -thankfully- from engaging in our more base and violent tendencies).
Even though I may seek understanding and similitude, there doesn’t exist a person who can identically be me (or you, or… whatever – you get the picture).
Truth is, I don’t want to be like anyone else. What I want is to be more me. The journey of discovery has been a long one and it obviously (isn’t it obvious?) is an enduring one because no matter where we are along it, there is always another layer of self to peel away.
Stay curious, my friends… and brave.