The Portrait of Self
When I was a kid, I scored a book at a yard sale with my Mom and it was all about how to draw ridiculous cartoon characters. I was extremely interested in anything creative as a young man, and that creative mind, ever present, had me constantly daydreaming and distracted.
This image to the left was a self-portrait. The reluctant superhero, lame but charming, unable to grow facial hair (when I hit puberty at the age of 33, that all changed, oh the wonders of biology). Eyes fixated on whatever I got horribly wrong, lips pursed in a state of “Oh … shit …” and a hastily drawn bolt of lightning as if the mask was doing anything at all to disguise the fact that every calamitous circumstance in my orbit was totally my fault.
Honestly, it’s an attitude and outlook that has never ceased. You know those days when you wake up SO rough around the edges that you almost put the cereal box away in the refrigerator? That’s me, every day. Sure, everything seems fine at the time. Until the afternoon when I open the pantry and see the milk – warm, chunky, and bloated – sitting on a shelf where the cereal should be …
The Expression of Self
I find puppets to be hilarious and totally liberating. Comedians do this thing where up on stage they are a caricature of themselves. Their humor can be obnoxious or self-deprecating, and often pushes boundaries that you would never approach during “polite” social interactions where everyone has their walls and facades up.
So I collect puppets. I usually keep one or two in the car, put it on my hand, and make it sing when “The Humpty Dance” comes on. This particular one to the right is named “Chico”. He’s a handmade piranha puppet crafted by a local artist. I scored this one when my fiancee and I took a trip to Montreal.
Puppets allow me to express myself in ways I wouldn’t, normally – inhabit a character with it’s own history and sets of emotions. It’s like a small story or character study, improv-style and on the fly. It’s a pure form of self-expression (once I get over the quick hit of shame being a 40-something with a Piranha puppet named Chico who talks like Cheech Marin), being able to project a personality onto an inanimate object that I’d normally be scorned for projecting outwardly through my own skin. I also have a rude French donkey named Francois, a Cthulhu (complete with articulating tentacle face), a wide-eyed and innocent shark sock puppet with a heavy lisp, and a karate master Muppet, built at the now-defunct (I think) Muppet WhatNot Workshop in NYC’s FAO Schwarz. There are even more lying around here somewhere.
We’re all wrapped up in ourselves to a large degree, and personally I’ve spent the better part of the last 20 years trying to unwrap myself down to some of those layers that don’t normally see the light of day.
One of my supervisors at a job I had no business not getting fired from sat me down in her office and said, “David, you are an enigma.” She was spot on. Most INFJs are.
Aren’t we all happier when we’re not trying to please everybody all of the time? That has been my greatest struggle, always. Unpack that, MBTI!
I have spent mountains of time during my life sacrificing little bits of my own happiness to care for and please people that didn’t care for me. I am only now starting to understand the concept of self-care. Sometimes you need to be alone. Sometimes you need to recharge. Sometimes you need to eat four Boston Cream donuts, chase it with your 5th cup of iced coffee, call out of work, avoid the shower, float in the essence of your own stink, pour Bourbon at 2PM on a Tuesday, and wonder where your guilt has run off to, because it’s sure as shit nowhere to be seen.
I have no idea where my writing adventures will end, if ever. I’ve been a writer my entire life, just not in any official capacity.
Words are comfortable for me. I can write with eloquence (I RITE GUD HUR HUR HUR) and tend to express myself through written communication far better than I can in simple conversation.
At any given time my head is going in a thousand different directions at a thousand miles an hour. It feels positively overwhelming and it’s hard to settle. With written word, I can craft a sentence, move it around, make it say perfectly what I mean to say (eventually). With spoken word, once they leave my mouth, they’re gone and in someone else’s ears, and that’s actually not good. Because I do contradict myself often. I have to hear myself say things (or see myself type it) in order to validate it and confirm that it’s the thought I wish to express.
So everything I write, whether it’s scrawling a giant carnivorous plant along-side an unconventional poem, or an email to a colleague, or a diary entry where I just have to rant about how depression can suck and be totally overwhelming, it’s all something I need to do, and something I take great care for and pride in. Sometimes I hate it, sometimes it feels like heaven.
Part of this whole exercise – blogging, creating some videos, expressing thoughts, struggling through the process of completing a goal of a self-published work – is merely a challenge to myself to stop thinking so much, and to start pursuing something that has been a desire deep down in my heart for as long as I am able to remember.
I could write books upon books about who I am and how I work, and you still wouldn’t really know me. Funny that. But hopefully, something I say resonates with you as I’ve found things that have resonated with me. And if that helps you a little, great, because it helps me to write it.