“For I have heard that most of that which bears the name of learning, and which has abused such quantities of ink and paper, and continually employs so many ignorant unhappy souls for ten, twelve, twenty years in the university (who yet, poor wretches, think they are doing something all the while ) – as logic, etc., and several other things (that shall be nameless lest I should misspell them) – are much more absolutely nothing than the errantest play that e’er was writ.”
– Aphra Behn
But one thing can be measured, for what it is worth: The Blog itself. If it keeps growing year by year and keeps getting traffic and at one time the Putin bots that now are my only regular visitors will be replaced by engaged human beings … then that is a yardstick for impact.
However crude and imperfect.
And I believe it is a better impact – given my experience, talent and skill – then I can give in this life as a social worker or a worker in a social justice organisation, paid or voluntary.
I will not say no to such positions if opportunity arises and it feels right.
But right now the point is moot, because it doesn’t really look like I can qualify for any meaningful position within the humanitarian organisations anymore, and as regards work for individual persons, e.g. as a helper for the disabled, I just don’t have that much to give anymore. I am not getting younger and the job is hard. And it doesn’t scale at all – so: Extremely limited impact.
But even if I could get a job in, say, Action Aid International I would still feel that The Blog is, as far as I can see right now, the best thing I can give to the world.
And that means that my drawing is free from that demand.
And good riddance.
I don’t need to change the world via drawing, or storytelling.
I just need to draw.
For a long time I thought I should only tell stories, including stories in drawing, that had some ‘higher purpose’ and would make ‘some difference’ in people’s lives. I no longer do that.
It would be nice, but I no longer think like that.
I have my web business and my temp work and a few other ideas, and maybe I can scrape some income from donations if I do videos of my drawing process and say something clever and witty while I do it. And maybe I can crowdfund some funds for graphic novel printing and do a talk live – or two – about my subjects. And earn an extra buck.
But I don’t have to live from it. I just have to do it. Every day.
But why does it seem to be working for me now – drawing again?
I don’t want to jinx it so perhaps I shouldn’t blog about it. Perhaps I should keep it secret.
On the other hand: It is such a … quickening that I feel it is almost impossible not to talk about. It really means much to me.
And perhaps – even if I falter a time or two again along this road – my observations of what caused this shift can be of help to others who are stuck with drawing, and not getting it done.
Maybe not the Putin bots, but I know you are out there – you who want to do this, like me.
Now, I don’t know of course if this kind of self-hate is the same as yours, in substance or in strength, but surely there is a familiarity.
Those feelings must spring from somewhere, and IMO it is very much the same source, so to speak. Something inside is broken and needs fixing. Medication can help but it has side-effects and it is NOT a cure. See a health professional about this, but make sure you see more than one.
What helped me was, to some extent, therapy but mostly therapy I trained myself to habituate – i.e. I learned how to think differently. All the time.
To stop the hateful thoughts and replace them with something else. Cognitive behavioral therapy, I believe it is called – and it was a self-made variation thereof I used, with some help from therapists.
But what I would really like to point out is that I did not seriously commit myself to this kind of therapy, including the 24/7 practice (which was the most important) before I realized, deeply, that my current status quo would lead to self-destruction.
You can fill in the blanks there … But I realized that I hurt myself and that ultimately it would not do me any good to continue.
Whatever it was inside me that apparently believed I would do something or other that I, well, needed by hating myself … that illusion was dispelled and I could finally seek help.
“I believe you!’ the artiste exclaimed finally and extinguishes his gaze. ‘I do! These eyes are not lying! How many times have I told you that your basic error consists in underestimating the significance of the human eye. Understand that the tongue can conceal the truth, but the eyes – never! A sudden question is put to you, you don’t even flinch, in one second you get hold of yourself and know what you must say to conceal the truth, and you speak quite convincingly, and not a wrinkle on your face moves, but – alas – the truth which the question stirs up from the bottom of your soul leaps momentarily into your eyes, and it’s all over! They see it, and you’re caught!”
― Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
So I need to learn to do this – acknowledge my feelings about financial scarcity – and at the same time let go of them and focus on just living the best I can, every day.
Before there are no more days.
And it can’t be forced – maturity. That is the problem.
It can, however, be helped along.
If you consciously decide to deal with your own personal problems and improve yourself, e.g. through coaching or therapy … then you can in principle speed up maturity. In a manner of speaking.
You can speed up the awareness of your experiences and the ability to act prudently with the knowledge you have now – use it well.
So other channels, yes – like blogging and YouTube … I know they can work for others, with regard to getting an audience, delivering value and making money. But I don’t know yet how and when they can work for me.
And I have so little time to invest in those channels, given my duties with regard to family and earning money here and now to pay bills. Via temp work. Because there are no savings. Only debt.
So it will be a while before this clarity can be tested to its fullest extent.
But at least I know what to test. That has not always been the case.
How the hell can it ever work to strive for realizing something that will make you happy, but strive in a way that makes you feel stressed and struggling?
These days (some of) the world’s attention, including mine, is inexorably drawn towards Thailand where international and navy divers try to save a group of boys stranded in a cave, filled with rising waters.
In an age with greedy, callous, imbecile leaders of powerful countries, strife and war and the old media still wallowing in all sorts of other bad news, these stories of human bravery and sacrifice are a lot more important, I feel, than the story of the actual mission itself. More than the sum of its parts, so to speak. The story helps remind us all, at least yours truly, that there are a lot of really good, brave and competent people out there. Being just that as part of their job.
This kind of story helps remind us all, at least yours truly, that there are a lot of really good, brave and competent people out there.
Being just that as part of their job.
Why is that voice there, saying all through the day:
‘You are not good enough.
‘You did not get a job.
‘You did not get savings.
‘You did not get pension.
‘You did not get a house.
‘You did not get other normal stuff that people your age have.
‘You did not realize your skills, life purpose or much of value to anyone but your nearest family.
‘And these judgments are more important than everything you did – everything you did realize – everything you did value – everything.’
Normally I would be tempted to make some kind of statement and then embark on a rigorous mental training to get the voice to shut up once and for all.
And forget my shame about it quickly.
But maybe that is not enough this time. Not courageous enough, I mean.
Maybe I have to dare own it first.
“As we care about more of humanity, we’re apt to mistake the harms around us for signs of how low the world has sunk rather than how high our standards have risen.”
“When it comes to building a more positive relationship with money, we always have to take the first step. Money is a bit shy in that way. But when money sees that we like it and appreciate it, it tends to let its guard down and play back at us.” – Steve Pavlina