Science book illustrations taught me that the heart doesn’t look like the symbol we all
know and draw. It looks like a wadded up dish rag. A fist-shaped muscle, an engine valve on a sports car. But it actually does look like that candy box of chocolate, sometimes.
It looks like a heart when it contracts. It squishes down and forms that cutesy, homemade Valentine’s Day card.
That’s when the heart is empty. No blood. Well, very little.
It squeezes in and squirts out all the juice. So basically, the heart has to work to look like a heart.
If it just lays there and doesn’t do anything, it just looks like a big pile of silly putty.
My heart wasn’t working. It was tired. I abused it. I was dying. August 2012, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure at the age of 39.
I could blame everyone else. I could. But I’m the one who starved it. Beat it up. Ignored the fading pulse of life.
So we put the heart in place of love, right? Mary loves John. ❤
We put a heart there. So you wanna know my theory regarding love?
You can only know what love looks like when you actually use your heart. Take a risk. Go out on a limb. Love someone first. Flex that muscle.
We can’t know love until we lay our heart on the line. Our heart isn’t alive until we use it.
A heartbeat. EKG. Charted heartbeats on graph paper. Highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Up and down and everywhere in between. Sharp waves of life beeping out over a loud machined monitor.
And what does it look like when there’s no more breath or blood? A flat line.
Nothing’s happening. You’re dead.
I would rather have the high peaks and low valleys. Rather than dead. Rather than flat, silent space.
A heart at rest can’t do anything. You can’t love passively. A heart in action gives life. A big, pumping, flesh-and-blood organ races at the sight of food, flesh, fear. Love. Beauty.
I have passed down my intensity. Frustration. Perfectionism. And insatiable need for applause and pats on the back. I’m so sorry.
When I look into those deep, brown, watery eyes of yours and see your struggle and pain? It breaks my heart. But at the same time, it pricks my own frustration.
I have somehow failed you along the way. Not that I passed down some negative trait, but that I haven’t taught you how to cope with it. Mainly because at 44, I haven’t learned my damn self.
Lilli is 13. Barely out of middle school and a budding artist. Her skills aren’t where she wants them, but writing as an artist, are they ever?
Taste and talent never seem to match. Do they? Ugh.
The most valuable skill as an artist, I maintain, is the ability to adapt. (Art finds its own way. You can’t force it. Its going to be whatever it wants. It has a life of its own. You’re merely along for the ride.) This is learned, not innate. So I have, at least, failed to teach you how to adapt. The most important skill I could teach you. Beyond Photoshop, or how to use watercolor pencils (haven’t a clue), or how to shade properly (if it doesn’t get done with a drop shadow in PS, I can’t help you with shading, sorry!).
But I can teach you (sorry, I keep forgetting to) how to adapt. How to approach art. How to find solutions, how to experiment, find your style.
Do anything that feels real or awesome. And if you’re not there yet? Modify your expectations. I do. Every day. And if you want to get better and I don’t know how, Google that shit. 🙂 I’m sure there’s a Youtube out there concerning exactly what you want to know.
Be true to yourself. Don’t seek attention. Don’t wait for applause. It may never come. Make art for yourself and screw the rest. It’s that simple.
Oh! And have fun. :*
And Me? Don’t get frustrated with yourself or your daughter. Have fun. Take a deep breath. You haven’t failed. You have an amazing 13 yo who is awesome at art and life. She has a big heart and is full of potential and knows Photoshop, sort of. You. Have not. Failed. You have chances to learn. Just like her.
I have to remind myself. Make what you like. Write what you like. Don’t worry about whether people like it. Just keep going. It’s not up to me. The questions to ask IMO are:
Is this real?
Does this help you or someone else?
Is this positive?
And for me, what would God say about what I’ve written? (I don’t think God cares if I say naughty words. *shrug* He cares whether or not I love people. And some people deal in naughty words. lol IDK!)
Here’s an excerpt from a piece I wrote at the beginning of this site, Dog with a Blog:
Through some pretty painful thoughts, my epiphany rose. Your writing is the voice you always wanted. And you just want to be heard because you felt like you never were. Same with acting, art, anything. Your hands and mouth and mind won’t stop, even if you tried. They’ve had their freedom. You were the 4th child of a crazy family who wasn’t big on sharing, feelings or truth. Your voice was lost on that sea of insanity. You don’t want to be ignored. You have something to say.
But, it has to be more than that. Because everyone has that story. What God is leading me to is this.
GOD: If I gave you a voice, it was to use for me. Not to heal your broken heart. Not to sermonize. Not to exorcise your demons. Not to psychoanalyze your issues. But to work for me. And I have taken care of you. I will continue to do that. You show my power in your weakness. Stop worrying about money. I will not let your voice drown. Like the boat that I was in and kept tall on the waves that I stilled, I will raise your voice for those that need to hear it.
I hesitated years ago to start a blog. But I’m so glad I finally did.
Keep going. You don’t know where you will go unless you move.
So I did a really silly series except I only did one or two. So it’s not technically a series. Yet. So I’m coming back to those. This one (below) is Llama Doorjamb (Spoof of Lama Dorje from Little Buddha, one of my favorite movies. It’s not the best acting, think Chris Isaak, but it’s a great look at Buddha and his story). My daughter, Pencil Princess, drew him. He’s so friggin’ cute. She drew it several months ago, but it didn’t scan properly and we didn’t have time to go back and rescan.
I mean NO disrespect to any Buddhists, Tibet or the Dalai Lama. In fact, the opposite. I have found many things in Buddhism that reinforce my Christian faith and help me overcome my weaknesses.
Things like, when a wave or storm comes at you, don’t be overwhelmed. Anticipate the wave, accept the wave, overcome the wave, be the wave, understand the wave. Help others who are drowning. And suffering. Stop suffering by letting go of needless desire. All very good advice and here is where Buddhism and Christianity overlap. How to be a better Buddhist, Christian, person.
This llama has that Bill Murray pout, the one he had in Caddyshack. I love it. Murray has that speech about talking with the Dalai Lama and reaching enlightment? He ends his brag with “So, I got that goin’ for me.”
This is my catchphrase as of late. Whenever I say something that sounds braggy or lame such as:
I just leveled up in Toy Blast!
Today, I didn’t almost-crap my pants!
I always follow those phrases up with “So, I got that goin’ for me.” in that sideways-Bill-Murray voice. And it always makes me happy to think of it.
So I usually dole out some silly wisdom or joke in these little asides. It’s more of a poem for my nugget of wisdom with a touch of silliness, and oh-so true for me lately:
I never thought it would happen. But. Turns out? I’m an optimist!
LOL, this might be a new take on an old joke, but it’s how I’m feeling today.
Feel good about yourself today. No one else might! 🙂