During the past week even till now, I couldn’t feel any dumpier. Harsh memories, lost friends. One of my closest friends Angela would’ve had her 39th birthday today. God I miss her. I’ve got another friend with whom I’ve missed talking. Actually, I miss having conversations with virtually all of my friends. I don’t have very many, but I miss them all.
Being sad is dumb.
Whenever days or weeks like this happen, I normally try to lose myself. Or my “self.” In a good, constructive, spiritual way I mean. But I’ve been having a hard time. So I figured today, after a nice lunch with my wife, whom I haven’t really seen in a week because of our work schedules, I thought it’d be fun to go to Michael’s and get some art supplies for myself. So we did.
There’s so many options to choose from: acrylics, watercolor, pens, pencils, chalk, watercolor pens, brush pens… you name it. But I went pretty basic. Pencils, markers, erasers, paper.
I had no idea what I was going to do with all of this, but I do know that I needed a more physical and creative way to realize my wuji, my emptiness, and lose my “self” for a bit.
So doodling, it was.
As you’ll be able to tell in a bit, I’ve been highly influenced by Lynda Barry’s artwork/writing. She’s a cartoonist who makes incredible comics, both fiction and autobiographical. She’s very much like Matt Groening in that respect. As a matter of fact, Lynda Barry and Matt Groening did go to the same school. Since I was a kid, I’ve read Matt Groening’s “Life In Hell” series, starting with “School is Hell.” I remember hoarding up enough of my allowance money to trudge on over to Crown Books down the street to purchase the book (I was alone a lot, so I always ended up at the book store and the library). As soon as I bought the book I walked across the street over to the park, plopped myself down on the nearest park bench, and read and read and laughed and cried. So relatable and touching and deep, even for a little 12yo like I was.
I have no idea where I was going with this.
Anyway, we got home after the store and I sat at the table with my markers, pencils, erasers, and paper ready to deploy, and…. nothing. What the fuck was I going to draw? Or write?
There was once a podcast with Henry Rollins recalling a story about his interviews with author Hubert Selby, Jr (Last Exit to Brooklyn, Requiem for a Dream). Rollins asked Selby what occurs in his head that he comes out with some of the most amazing stories. Selby simply replied that he doesn’t think of anything, he just types. The ideas just flow straight from the universe and right through his fingers.
So I decided to try it, but with doodling. I shut off my brain, got into my “Qigong” state, and came out with this:
Like I said, it’s very “Lynda Barry.” But this is what came down from the sky and onto my paper. It was pretty cool to see what manifested. And it was relaxing as well. And I needed to relax. I will have to think about what this drawing really means, but it came out of me, and it was fun doing it.
It’s one of those “I know it sucks but I like it” sort of situations.
Taoism teaches us that the greatest, most beautiful things that occur in nature happen spontaneously and naturally. That’s what “Wu Wei” essentially means. “Wuji” simply means “limitless void.” Yes, your possibilities are endless, but only if you become “empty.” You must get rid of that ego to allow for the brilliance inside of you to come out.
Try it. Try doodling or writing by shutting off your brain and allowing your pen, fingers, markers, or keyboard to move. See what happens. Just allow. Keep yourself “empty” and just go with the flow of the feeling. I’ve done it with writing a lot, but this is the first time I’ve done it with drawing.
I’m a shitty doodler, but you know what? It helped me not be sad.