Doesn’t Matter If I’m the Only One

There are ways in which solitude and solitary pleasures are among the loveliest, the most inexplicably un-shareable delights we can have. Even those things that are enhanced by happy sharing with one companion, or many, can only be experienced internally in our own unique ways, through our own highly individualized filters and lenses of taste, belief, experience, knowledge, and longing.Digital illustration: From this Angle

The beauty of this is that the best things I experience or encounter can be met at several different levels. Even when I am among a host of fellow travelers on the occasion, I can have that communal adventure and be guided and shaped in my sense of its goodness and meaning by any or all of those around me, while the reflections in my heart may say to me, “and yet…” or find me collecting all of the data of the moment in some private interior compartment for later examination.

In those after-times, I am at leisure to contemplate the whole and all of its components and think whatever I will, feel whatever I will, now that I’m left to my own devices. From this slightly removed angle, my own particular skew, I may find that the true enjoyment of this part of my life comes as much from within, from my imperfect yet fully tailored perspective being so well suited to make me like what I have seen, heard, tasted, and sensed in it. That is a subtly different but wholly wonderful part of living life: being able, in solitude (whether actually alone or not) to see what is marvelous and admirable, exciting and fine, to me on my very own terms.

About Average

Digital illustration from photos: Handy, or a Handful?

Am I handy, or just a handful?

I’ve always thought of myself, without any implied value judgement, as an average person. But given my conviction that each of us is as distinctive as the proverbial snowflake, being average does not imply sameness in every way or with every one. After all, I have my distinctions, as anyone who knows me in the least can tell.

Still, in my particular milieu, those paths I’ve trod in my life’s journey as well as the matrix of my personal genetics and environmental influences, I have never tended to stand out from the crowd much. Some of that could clearly have been thanks to my preference for being a wallflower and remaining as invisible as I could manage during all of the years of my intense anxiety and self-doubt. But I really did blend in more than not, even when I felt like an emotional outsider. I’ve generally been just about smack in the middle of the majority wherever I’ve found myself in life.

Few are the superficial and visible things by which I can or could be easily singled out from a crowd. I am of approximately average height and weight, not particularly short or tall, thin or fat. I wear what I’m told are the average sizes in clothing—mostly Mediums, if not numerically average in a more specific way—and the most common size of women’s  shoes, those also in the medium width. I have brown hair; I have all of the standard, requisite limbs and appendages and other body bits in the ordinary places one would expect to find them, and a relatively symmetrical frame. I am neither notably hideous by popular standards nor a stellar beauty.

My education extended to college and a master’s degree, something not everyone has the wealth or privilege to experience, and I got pretty good grades all through, but again, nothing to put me on the map or anyone’s Specialness radar. My personal life, my daily activities, my work life: these are all unmarred by major peculiarities or notable oddments that would make me memorable to anyone who wasn’t already paying attention to me. What does all this mean? Is it unusual that I’m, uh, not unusual?

Nope. I think what it means is that each of us, unique in some ways, is utterly average in others. The world isn’t actually divided neatly into things, let alone people, able to be classified as belonging in a certain percentile as Normal or Average, above or below it, and remain in that category in all ways, for all time. Every one of us people, places, things, animals, vegetables and minerals seems to have a complex, and ever-changing, collation of classifications, each of our characteristics being at its own level, some of which levels vary over time and—

Oh, never mind. This could devolve into such a death-spiral of convoluted thinking that I might just explode into some sort of extraordinariness, if I’m not careful.

[Muffled, slightly crazed laughter]

One in a Million

digital illustration

Homage to Popularity

My Distinction

If I should need some camouflage, should want to truly blend,

I’d better watch my persiflage and learn not to offend

By wearing last week’s trendy style, my hair too short or long,

Or failing, yet, to reconcile which Party’s Right (or wrong)

To run the government; which church is favored most by God,

How not to leave you in the lurch when I have been a clod,

Appalling with my social gaffes, faux pas and frightful fouls;

I may accept I’m built for laughs, but using the wrong towels

Or forks or traffic lanes, That Word in company unfit—

I hope I don’t seem too absurd as-is, but that’s just it:

My imperfections, my unique design as Me, are such

As might make me appear a freak if I am Me too much.

But, truth be told, while I may work to fit in with the rest,

I hope you won’t think me a jerk for liking myself best!

I will blend in, keep pace, behave, up to a point, to please,

But lest you think me fashion’s slave, I think it a dis-ease

To seek conformity and bow to other people’s rules

When I’m quite nifty anyhow, and others may be fools.

digital illustration

Fingerprint Beats Homage

Not Just Another Pretty Face

At some level, most of us—no matter how disdainfully we might pretend to look upon those Others who obsess over appearances—wish to be thought beautiful. We want to fit in with others, to belong in the pack, to be loved.photoOf course, we know that even those who do fit in do so if and as the hierarchy of the pack allows. We are put in our places and told who we are, where we belong, what we’re supposed to be doing, and why we should accept that fate as though it were a natural law. After all, we tend to believe that nature is fact-driven and therefore we, who are mere specks in its vastness, must play our little roles as prescribed in the absolutes of existence. We sit here and take it. In many ways, that’s a useful approach to life, because, well, nature does drive a lot of what is and what happens, and bucking that can be counterproductive or even quite dangerous. And worse, perhaps, such refusal to accept the norms others have agreed upon as right and correct and natural puts us on the fringes and at risk of rejection. Someone along the way is sure to reject the rebel or misfit. Someone will think I’m unfit or, yes, Ugly.photoIt’s a wonderful thing to remember that besides all of the weird and dangerous and unpleasant and otherwise negative possibilities in stepping outside of the normal and expected course of events or refusing to be other than myself in order to seem to fit in better where I really don’t, there are also a vast array of glorious and splendid maybes waiting out there for me to dare to reach for them. Much of what is good and beautifully new in the world happens because one person dared to think, do, and exist differently from the pack, the mass of ordinary people, and brought about an increment of change. How wonderful if I can shed my fears, my need for conformity borne of desire for universal acceptance, and become ever so slightly more notable, one little nth more dazzling, than I was when I was only hoping to be like all the other creatures that I knew.

Imagine, If You Will…

digital illustrationFantastic Phenomena

Rare as hens’ teeth, so they say,

the bird I saw the other day;

barely known, less often, seen,

and in the spaces in between,

not found but once, then flown away–

But rarer still, and here’s the thing:

that I should see it on the wing

and landing, perching in a tree

that most folk living never see,

abloom in Fall, as it were Spring–

For what I’ve learned is that this kind

of special magic that I find

can only happen if the heart

is open to the sort of art

where things are made so in my mind.

Stained Glass & Malachite

Being beautiful is such an ephemeral thing, to be sure. Making art that is beautiful is possibly even more so–after all, the same piece that appeals to one might hardly appeal equally to all, any more than the attractions of any one person might strike any others in precisely the same way. And our own tastes and interests and circles of friendship and acquaintance change so much over time that it’s a miracle if we even maintain contact, let alone a closeness or deep appreciation of each other and our various works and features over any period of illustrationCase in point: my playful attempts to learn the use of some digital tools for artwork, combined with the way that I tend to recycle my sketches and drawings, has altered both my perception of what I would keep, revise and/or rethink my own pieces to a pretty radical extent in the last few years. I believe that my overall style or the signature character of my art has remained fairly steady and therefore recognizable since it began to emerge some years back, but the tools and techniques with which it’s expressed have mutated enough to bring out some entirely different aspects of texture, complexity and even subject matter. The eccentric character in today’s illustration, for example, started out as a rather typical (if not stereotypical) caricature of a semi-human man who differed little in form from the sort of goofy fantasy creatures and people I’ve drawn for years just to entertain myself, but suddenly when I was playing with the sketch, coloring it in digitally as though I were a little kid with a digital coloring-book, he started to become something entirely different and new, a creation slightly unlike all that have come before him.

Now, because I am both unscientific and forgetful when I am immersed in amusing myself with art, I will probably never be able to replicate precisely the process that led to his looking like a hybrid of a stone-inlay project and a leaded window made of art glass. And though I like the effect and hope I can do something similar again if I work hard enough–especially if I want to make what in my own estimation is a sufficiently prettier character to warrant such a highfalutin treatment–it will hardly be the end of the world if he ends up being my only-ever stained glass and malachite creation. Being unusual and a little bit strange is just something we’ll have in common.

Uniquely Me

graphite drawingBe Not Ill at Ease

Around my sprockets and my spleen lurk what no doctor’s ever seen,

a plethora of arcane ills impossible to treat with pills

or pessaries, with tinctures, teas, or magic potions for disease–

not curable by overhaul of engine, tune-up, electrol-

ysis, electric shock–it’s thought by some I will infect them; not

true, though, for what seems to be feared is not contagious–

I’m just weird.


graphite drawingPossibilities

I think I have a hankering for things both rich and strange

To the degree that anything I love requires a change

From normalcy into a state you might consider odd

Or simply having no real weight upon the native sod

Of humankind–that is, not kin to mortals and their sort–

And if you find my life herein just makes you give a snort

Of disbelief (maybe disdain), I’ll not call it affront,

But pity you the sad refrain of living such a blunt

And circumscribed existence as mere ‘normalcy’ implies,

While I, adorned in fairy dust, take to the endless skies.