The Madness

November 29, 2011

This is a long winded, text heavy, melodramatic post. There. You’ve been warned.

Most of you know that a year ago I was in a really bad car accident. I suffered a bad concussion and woke up in the ICU, but went home the next day and back to work a week later. Every week afterward for awhile, I would look back and think “wow, I really wasn’t back to 100% last week. I did some really weird things. Glad I’m ok this week.” Then of course the next week the cycle would repeat. Eventually it became a monthly ritual. Every month thinking last month was the end of the mental fog, the verbal scramble, and the lapses of common sense.

I’m not sure I’m back yet, since I still struggle verbally at times and I still do really quirky things. The funny thing is, I know I did some of these things before, but trying to sort out what is normal for me and what is not is challenging.

I used to have nights where I would have The Madness. If you’re a creative type, you know what I mean. It’s a bizarre mixture of intense creativity and intense psychological, emotional, and spiritual burning and longing. An artist’s ecstasy, of sorts. Since the concussion, I haven’t really had many of them. It’s like my creativity took a break to give my brain a chance to heal. Like many other “normal” things, I didn’t realize that I was missing that part of me.

Until it came back.

Sunday night I was alone at home while hubs played some late night hockey. I was feeling really overwhelmed with the zine plans, because I really don’t know what I’m doing. I know why I’m doing it, and that’s all. I’ve been doing what I always do — live in the why, leave the what to experience and trial and error. Sunday night that suddenly seemed so foolish. I was pretty low. I sat down and wrote God a letter, then I put on one of my favorite albums. Slowly, subtly, I felt it soaking into my emotions. The Madness. It seeped into my plans, drowned out the music, spilled into the sketchbook. The Madness was back. I felt brave again. I’ll make it up as I go along. I’ll embrace the adventure.

Later, when The Madness was fading again, I looked down at the letter to God in my sketchbook. I had written about not feeling the spark that I felt “real” artists must have. I wondered (again) about why I think I should make art at all. I had signed it “Knowing You Will Answer.” I think He did.

P.S. Copy Break is live on facebook and gearing up for it’s Kickstarter campaign. Please go here and like us! Even better, post the link on your wall for your friends to see. We’re going to publish a zine, my friends!


Emotion and the arts

April 19, 2011

I was at a Mexican restaurant the yesterday and noticed a picture of Frida Kahlo lacquered onto the table top. I started thinking about her — how to me she is surrounded by the same magic as Vincent van Gogh. We love these figures in a strangely familiar way. We call them Frida and Vincent as though they are dear friends of ours. They are dear friends of ours. Why is that? Why do we feel this way about them? More specifically, why do we feel this way about them and not other artists? I don’t love Albrecht [Durer] like I love Vincent — the thought feels out of place.

Vincent and Frida both created out of pain — Vincent’s emotional and mental, Frida’s physical. I believe we love them because we feel they empathize with us. They understand and, more than just experiencing, they found a way to express the pain that we all feel.

As an artist and as a Christian, emotion is precious to me. I believe that the division between time and eternity wears thin when we feel deeply. As a believer who hopes for an eternity where all is set right, even my pain draws me, because Christian hope is not the hope of the english vernacular. Hope to me is no wishful thought or slim chance. Hope is a looking forward to something that is promised by one who cannot lie.

Frida began painting while lying on her back recovering from a bus accident that eventually killed her. I have new appreciation (if not actual understanding) of her experience after my own close call propelled me into a renewed passion to create. I’ll never forget opening my eyes on the scene, hearing the sirens and the calm voices of firefighters, but seeing nothing. I now know that blindness is a frequent temporary response to shock, but I had a moment of staring into the blackness and letting reality sink in. I didn’t know that 24 hours later I would wheel out of ICU and go home as though nothing had happened. I remember thinking calmly “So this is it. I wonder what the new normal will be like?”

At that moment I understood hope, emotion, the draw of eternity. I’ve been driven to express ever since.