A Moment of Pause

It’s a difficult time in the world, with so much happening at once. I suppose every age is like this, but this is my first one, as an adult, as far as I know, past lives notwithstanding, footnote reminders for aspects of consciousness, I remind myself. Apologies. I’ve been reading so much, and Finnegan’s wake is deep within my mind, the rhythm isn’t easily forgotten. But what of memory? What do we remember about all the mistakes of the past? Have we forgotten? Have we forgotten that war brings total misery, for all involved, what then, and where then, do we find ourselves now? I’m aware of many things happening at once, but in so many ways they are all the same. They are about emotional blindness, not seeing the beautiful and subtle aspects of our world as we focus on goals and objectives that have become blinders to the reality around us. I know there are more wars than those in Ukraine, our world is at the point of what we’re beginning to hear is a global recession. I am not an economist or a global strategist, I’m simply an artist with a belief in God, living in a forest, in a small apartment with my partner, my days are simple and calm, and from this place, deep within the forest, when it’s quiet gives me great concern when I read about or look at the news. Soon, and not far from now, we’ll be back in a city, I am both terrified and excited by the prospect, because I know just how difficult a situation our world is in. This is a time for great care. The tinge of purpose with kindness that is beginning to flow through my work, and on close inspection always has, gives this artist a bit of pause, If I’m not honest with this moment, as I am with so many others, the purpose of this journal will not be intact. So, in a word, I’m worried. I’m not only worried for myself and my family. I’m worried for the world. We’re beginning to hear signs of a global recession, war is raging and there is so much hate. In my own country, there are so many divides, but what is common is that we are all human, such a strange word, possibly overused. What does it even mean to be human, is it not the sense that we need each other more than ever? We are all waking up to a new morning every morning, there is so much hope with technology, and so much tragedy at the same time. I am not a newspaper, there is more for you to read by authors more advanced than I am, but if I could take a moment, just be good to each other, the threat to our world is greater than one group or another. We have to come together to face the climate crisis. That’s why I get so frustrated about the so-called democracy over my images. I make things for everyone and I see games being played with them. They’re for everyone and should always be, I refuse to let them power other agendas. I’ve said it often, but my role is to find a place of peace, and the only way I know how to do that is in the arts, I’ve tried political organizing, it gets, well, political, it’s shocking for someone who doesn’t speak those languages.

I doubt I will take on another coffee role. It was incredibly educational, and with all its difficulties, it was absolutely difficult, intellectually, physically, and emotionally, but I’m moving on from the field. For three months, I worked in a coffee shop, and I’ve written about it, it reminded me that the lives of people are greater than their politics, it doesn’t get written about but it’s there. Our world is incredibly peaceful when you’re that close to it, people are good and kind in ways you can’t imagine. Go to any community coffee shop and you’ll see it, it’s a wonderful experience. I hope anyone having difficulties right now, with friends or family, or anyone we share bonds with, can sit down and have a warm drink and talk about things. It’s very easy to do, and this time requires it so much. This is no time for conflict, we all face threats greater than what we can imagine, it’s time to walk away from conflict, and create lasting peace. We’ll need it. We’ll need it to preserve the environment and all life within it, we need it for the refugee crisis, we need it for equality, we need it for peace, we need it for all people, we need it for those of us who are in need, and that is greater than one thing or another, but we need each other now more than ever, and in that perhaps we can find what so many cultures call God. I’ll be making images to share in my little corner of the world, in a small studio near a kitchen in a forest somewhere, not far from cities, but I’m just like everyone else. We have a world to save, all of us. So I’m taking a moment of pause today. I bought a candle and will be taking things slow, in memory of all who have departed, and for all that come after. We owe it to the generations, they have lifted us all into this very moment, each moment, of every day. Can we consign their histories and sacrifices to the destruction of a planet, it can’t be this way. I want to honour the whole of human history today, through one small candle in a forest. It’s a simple thing, but if you’re going about your day, know that I lit a candle for you, and for all people, on a moment so important, that we all need to face, the way the planet is headed. Thank god for weekends. Remember that our ancestors fought hard for that too.

What it’s like behind the Counter at a Coffee Shop

Anyone who knows me knows that I am in love with coffee. It starts my day, and it’s so common across the world. Far from being a simple thing to me, it’s one of the best things about my day. I wake up really early in the morning and make sure it’s one of the first things I do. It’s a constant companion, and has been for years. I’ve written about it before. There’s even some work on my site about it. I have a comic series I’m working on and I’ve now worked at four coffee shops around Marin. But none of these match how I feel about my new job, that I finally finished my first week at. The team is amazing, and we wrapped up the weekend listening to Abba, The Beatles, and a morning of Jazz while we all did extremely hard work in the cafe. I’ve worked a lot of places in my life, but nothing is like this. Why? Because I forget about everything when I’m behind the counter, which I’m at for most of the day. I support the staff, I make coffee and tea, organize the pastry case, clean up, make drinks, and I listen to anything our customers have to say.

My coworkers are amazing, and I love them all. I truly think the work we do is important. The community is incredible. I genuinely love learning about the town, and I see so much from where I am. Helping people in their busy lives, helping them on a break during their day, is incredible. That shop is a place of pure joy, and I try to make sure I communicate that to anyone who comes into the shop. In the last week, I’ve helped people navigate the pastry case, I’ve helped kids count their change for something to eat. I’ve served folks from all ages, so many different cultures. I’ve seen America and I believe in it. This is a vibrant and incredible part of the world. I’ve made summer drinks for people to try, I’ve served so many people. I think I help over a hundred people a day.

It’s almost a blur as it happens, but no moment is lost on me. It’s difficult. The way the orders are described, you almost take a sample of spoken word and hold it deep within the mind while you translate it across the computer terminal. After months doing this it’s quite easy, but I have to be mindful the entire time. No single moment is lost on me, and I’m not faking it. I am genuinely completely positive almost the entire day. On breaks I don’t even check twitter anymore. I just sit and look at the clouds, I gaze across the town square and see the daily life of the town square. Every moment is incredible.

There was a significant event that happened today though, I learned deeply that you can’t take anything for granted. People I met that I felt such strong emotion toward would be leaving to go back to school, and I met someone who was blind who needed help finding things to eat. I didn’t even know she was until she mentioned it. I’m learning that you can’t judge anyone by first glance. You have to strongly watch and believe the best in people. Listening is more than we think it is. It’s the strongest sense of cadence and specificity.

The shop is arranged so that I don’t see how long the line is to the register, I just work with each moment as it happens. I don’t even count the time. When it slows down I see two large windows opening out to the town square. On the upper right is a poster decrying ignorance, hate, corruption, sexism, ignorance and hate. It’s defining how I see the world. After a week of full days watching and thinking about this. I’m growing and experiencing things that couldn’t happen in any other place in the world. I’m giving and helping every single second of the day.

The community is incredible, and I’ve learned just how good most people are. I think in the last week I helped close to a thousand people. And you know what, the very few negative experiences were probably less than a decimal of a percent. This was my first week. I have no idea what a year of doing this might be. And the work is exausting but fun. Even doing the dishes is fun. There’s not a single thing I don’t love about the job. This was one of the best experiences of my life. I still have no idea what’s going on in the world, and sometimes I just don’t think about it at all. So many things have changed. But I know good friends when I find them. I know just how vibrant the community is. So many voices, so many stories, so many amazing people. I’m just grateful to be there. And toward the end of the day, the voices all come together. This is sacred ground. And I see something sublime. The community, and the people around us, are all kind and wonderful. I’ve seen it, and that’s what I truly needed to see. I believe in people. You have to see the best in them. When you’re just starting out they know and they’re good to you. And that is something I needed to see. This cafe could change my life, and already has, and as I sit here I almost can’t imagine how anything could have ever happened that was more beautiful than today in the cafe. And when I sat outside on break my phone lost its power, so I Iooked out into the town, my gaze seeing what it could see, and then up into the sky. There was almost no sound, the clouds were constantly changing shape across the sky, drifting slowly, and I thought of nothing else, but the day, not as one thing or another, but as an endless flow of kindness, wonder, and love across time, and that is what I saw every moment of the day.

One Year Art Meditation

Something really extraordinary happened over the last year when we moved to the forest. We packed up all of our belongings, down to the barest essentials, and moved into the forest hills around Fairfax. Earlier during the pandemic my partner just said to me one night over dinner, we have the ability for you to focus on art for a year, why don’t you just try, so I did, I still took on assignments here and there, worked at coffee shops off and on, generally following the traditional roles as an independent artist. But long periods of studying meditation when the anxiety started to develop while I was in school started being brought into the foreground. I had originally wanted to try studying at a Buddhist Monastery, I begged my teacher for a work-study program and was denied, and was finally accepted at the San Francisco Zen Center. I moved in for one night and left after there was a series of commotions and increased traffic outside the room I was in. But the moments I spent inside the Zen Temple were magical. No one was around in the covid wing of the building, relegated to a two-week quarantine. It was right next to the main meditation hall, vacant from the height of the covid pandemic denying visitors. I went in one morning before I left and walked alone through the hall, just feeling its presence and openness. Everything was still and quiet, an enveloping warmth in the morning light.

Let’s go to four months later. We were in a small apartment in the forest hills of Fairfax, a town outside San Rafael, not quite rural but not quite urban either, barely a suburb. It was here I just said to myself, let’s try this now, I decided to work on two central concerns: my art and climate activism. I joined a small committee, eventually becoming vice chair, and I wanted to do what I had set out to do when I had earlier in the pandemic dedicated myself to studying zen. I wanted to ask myself what hate was, and how I could understand it. After a long year, of fighting constant threats and harassment, I finally saw just what that looked like. I saw the tormented emotion and defeated it, it was something I didn’t expect, and it came from the fact that my art, I realized, was meditation. While each painting was tried to be stolen for personal gain, I now see each step as a constant motion of progress towards a realization I would never have thought to enact from any direction or guideline, there was nothing like this experience. From painting to painting, each step kept motioning toward aspects of different emotions, if you look through all the work I made in the last year, it’s an epic story, one that would be impossible to film and impossible to write, it’s a combination of so many forms. It’s one story, it’s all an epic poem tied together, and then I realized what I had been facing all along, an ineffable face I had made as an image of torture from the years of harassment, it was almost a force made by some kind of spirit that was created to describe what I saw in the unified face of those who have been assaulting me. I finally saw it clear in its form in a final rendering, and I realized something, my own agency, so I took a look and modified it. Simple. It was over.

So what did I find? I don’t understand hate, but it feels like a carried trauma, yet in my process, which I could almost describe as mysticism because there were physical things that happened during this time, it feels like a lie. Hate is the lie of separation. Truth is the unity that binds all things, and our freedom is the opportunity to choose, and that’s where the truth exists. I posted a video message when I finally saw it for what it was. It may seem like another tik-tok, but I may not post anymore. It’s the final chapter of a long multimedia epic poem, it’s all there if anyone ever wants to see it. If you want to look at my work it is one story, one central story of love. It’s undeniable. Every moment in the forest was worth it. I am overcome with joy just thinking about it, it’s everything I ever wanted to do as an artist, so much so that I may never make art again. I can’t believe this. Yet there was more to other aspects, of the It’s the journey of my soul through time. This is the story of my spirit, so misunderstood that I could finally say it very simply, and that’s just it. And I now know it for a fact. I see it completely. Everything is in there, in all of its forms. It makes no sense to write this down,

Last night at the Committee meeting I was late and I finally signed on after receiving several phone calls from the mayor, I jumped online and logged in and did my job for the meeting, keeping time. I found a stopwatch counter online and launched the site, and then I saw it. I saw time defeat the concept of time. For every single moment that has been used as a system of division and hate, I saw the clock for what it was, yes there were seconds and minutes, but there was also a clock of infinitely fast number combinations in all forms that reset and started again every second. Want to use time against each other? The stopwatch defeated the lie. Time resets every second in the numeral system, moving so fast that it becomes a simple motion for which numbers are just abstract units that are not necessarily important. That’s all it is.

But what did I learn? Wow, the soul is like an ocean. It is the deepest space and brightest coral reef, it’s as light as wind and as heavy as a mountain. And we all, every single one of us has it, and hate denies the truth of what’s there. Hate is a Lie. Love is truth. And that may be what I was most upset about. Love each other, everyone, love each other, that’s the truth of our realities. I can’t write all this down in a way that is concise, but today I feel, for the first time, Like I completed my goals in art, I may make more as time goes on, but I know who I am, I know what the truth is, and I know what love is, and for anyone who still has hate, I urge you to one day, look at all of my art and imagine it as the journey of a spirit for someone you may have never met, you’ll find so much there, and for now, I’m headed into other things, new worlds, new assignments, with a renewed love for life, and deep joy, and no one, absolutely no individual, can take that from me, because you know what? It belongs to everyone.

Let’s talk about Clairity

I’m not sure when I realised it, but I think I believe in mysticism, not really anything special, just everyday faith in God, it’s something that always keeps me going, and I think whatever it is it’s ineffable, maybe it’s all conciousness itself. I’m not sure when it started happening, but this horrific X symbol and Z symbol started appearing places, obviously placed by people. I’ve been attacked just for crossing my legs, every move I make is evaluated. There’s nothing to hate about me so people look for it in any way they can, to excuse their own horrific hate. There were leaves left around our house, placed precisely where they shouldn’t be. Sometimes I saw this in twitter posts and license plates. I’ve been subjected to the relentless hate that comes from a place I don’t understand. I think I’ve been compared to absolutely every xenophobic reality that doesn’t understand me. But it really just describes what the people who call me this are. To be childish, “I know you are but what am I.” as my Mom taught me to say. I’m constantly taken advantage of because people seem more interested in power than telling me what is going on. I’ve never done anything to anyone to harm anything. There’s this numbering system from what I’ve been told, this belief that everything is some kind of game, but what it reminds me of more than anything else, is an image I saw before we went to Berlin to learn about the holocaust, of nazi guards playing football with the skulls of murdered jews. That’s how I feel sometimes when I see what’s happening, it sickens me to my core. It leaves me shuddering in the reality of just how horrifically cruel this is. But my belief in God keeps me going, and it reveals itself to me in quiet moments, almost saying I’ve got you, Mitch, I know what you’re going through, I’ll never stop fighting for you, and believing in the truth of your soul. I saw a movie recently, it was awful. More fighting, more hate. Sometimes it’s cold outside. I had a coffee and thought of the rain. I put on a jazz record, it was good. I fell in love with the world, I fall in love all the time, because I believe in love, hate is a lie.

Climate Legislation

For almost a year, I’ve been working as a climate activist, marching, constant outreach, organising book clubs, joining a local climate action committee, and eventually becoming the Vice Chair of the Fairfax Climate Action Committee. I learned the basics of ecology, began to identify the life forms and plants in our environment in the forest, making it the central part of my research, and redesigned and volunteered my skills toward rebranding efforts and film development for the town here. We do so much, we have set out a plan for our town here, yet I knew that I had to act wherever I could, at the local level, state level, and national level to make sure that it’s recognized. What Biden is signing today includes the best yet attempt to mitigate against climate catastrophes, far from its original scope, but enough for us activists after two years of intensive efforts, and for some in the climate community much longer, stretching decades and even more than half a century. This was critical legislation that I know a lot of us are grateful for. We finally are doing something. We need to do more.

If you’re inside the climate community you can really see how dire the situation is. We share resources and are dedicated to very difficult issues that the mainstream media and other sources sometimes do not highlight, though with increasing urgency, they are heroically starting to cover more, and it couldn’t be starker. The climate disasters that have been around us for the past two years, and even longer than that demand it, and it’s becoming clear that we can’t look away. It’s also a central part of compassion. Recovery in disasters puts vulnerable populations at increased risk, and nowhere is safe, for all the cost of the original climate provisions, cost estimates of disasters and displacement caused by climate change will far exceed the allotments given to climate change initiatives that we are currently planning. I’m celebrating the wins today, but we have to do more. We are finally, for the first time, giving our planet a chance for survival, and all life within it itself.

If you see climate change from the problems that it will cause, beyond measure, you have to see how we have to act as boldly on this as we do for any emergencies. The survival of our planet is just that important. Can we look into our children’s eyes and promise them that we’ve done everything we can for their survival? Can we look out into the trees and landscape around us and hear the wind as a whisper that calls us to imagine a world with a life destroyed? Can we imagine the ocean like a rising storm that threatens our coastal communities? Can we tell our friends in the animal kingdom that we can’t let them live another day? As refugees move from climate disasters to where they don’t know? This is the reality if we do not act more on climate change. Today is an absolute win for environmental activists, but it is this activist’s personal belief that we need to do more, every day, and perhaps that is what I’m most excited about. Things like this should have been done decades ago, but as someone who grew up with artists speaking out before politicians would, I will take that position and align my work with theirs, as an artist, I will never stop pushing for a more equal and just world, founded on the principle that we have to preserve and protect all forms of life, and it is without question that that call is first answered by protecting against the problems since the Industrial Revolution. There are critical issues facing our time, but the very foundation of all of them should be the preservation of all life on earth, and if that doesn’t bring us together as a community, both on the most local and personal to the embracement of all the world, I don’t know what will.

Last Press Briefing

I kind of knew before I started my daily practice that I wouldn’t have time for the press briefing today, I had been going every day for over a year, and it was one of the best experiences. I wrote a bit about it at the time but it was the best way to learn about journalism. Listening to all of the reporters and giving a human experience to so many of the news organizations is vital. It should be required viewing at some point for anyone interested in our world’s culture. Journalists are some of the brightest and most brave individuals I’ve ever met, even in passing. I was there for them. My family has a history in journalism, and some of my favorite writers who aren’t journalists got their start there. It’s a beautiful form, a series of questions instead of answers, a researcher’s mind. I felt an instant kinship. Officiated by White House staff, I deeply asked my own questions in my mind and heard what they had to say. I put together a Twitter list with as many of them as I could find the names of in passing, I missed so many but I’ll still keep up with the Press Corp there.

It’s possible that my understanding of our country happened in the hour-long press briefings, so many different views, conservative, liberal, and internationally focused, brought a completely different world into my consciousness, and it was exhilarating to watch. But I’m getting too busy to keep up, I may view occasionally but in the amount of news I read it just means I get to what they’re looking for an hour or two after the briefing. I’m trying to reduce my news intake so I can be more focused in the day, and this was something I really needed. I don’t know any of them but I do know my work is seen, so I’d like to spend one entry just stating very impactfully that journalism is the cornerstone of our democracy. The Washington Post goes so far to say that “Democracy dies in darkness”, I’m not sure that that is extreme at all. the press is a vital form of every aspect of our culture. It was a deep honor to hear directly from them, but it’s become something I’ll have to let go of. I’ll never get a sash from Jen Psaki for being one more person watching the briefings. But I was there because I feel like sometimes my experience is a platform to allow for the sight of information, and I don’t regret a single second I was there.

Good luck everyone, you’ve got really difficult jobs to do, and I’m sure I’ll see you occasionally on twitter, thank you for being here for our country, and good luck the rest of the way, we need it now more than ever.

Four Eyes

The process of making Four Eyes, which I started right after my graduation from art school was the deepest experience of my imagination. When I write comics, and when I make art, it so consumes me that it becomes my world, I work at a relentless pace without stopping. I first made a short zine comic tracing a narrative arc, and then moved over the course of my only summer out of school to make six issues and get it released in time for the Alternative Press Expo, which in many ways was a disappointment, as convention-goers seemed less than they had before, but something happened when I picked it back up, I realized I didn’t need half of the plotlines and even less of the drawings. I only chose the best work and compositions to carry forward, and then spent a month and a half, actually between all of it probably three months making the new version. I started putting it on webtoons and amazon, and then I realized something. I didn’t need a second part.

The best parts of the story are already there. Like most things, every thought, every turn of events doesn’t matter. Polly saves Tam, and Tam saves Polly, not by any action, but by simply loving and caring for each other. I was able to catch Polly’s emotions in ways I didn’t think I could, each of these panels is its own painting, and it was emotional. They both travel to the underworld, a world of dreams, the entire work is a dream, which overtook my mind as I wrote it, constantly changing at each step, going deep into repressed memories and something else entirely. This is a story of energy, this is a story of love and compassion. So what’s happening in my mind as I was writing this, and what does it mean? Polly gently guides Tam back into the safety of their home after a difficult journey out giving up her busy day, Tam gives up his second sight to meet her parents, and after the story ends his eyes open again and he sees a vision, of a gentle pond with a flower in the middle on a boulder, a depiction of both water, motion and safety, knowing that the currents of their love for each other keep them safe. It is also of the planets moving around the sun, as a flower in the center.

From what I can piece together this is about focus, and while my heart almost breaks for leaving this world, which is so like the one my partner and I lived in for more than a decade, I realized for me to heal I had to go through it. The world of Four Eyes will always be preserved in place by the work I’ve done over the last few months, and I almost don’t care if it never gets noticed, the more and more I think about it, the dream at the end is a reflection of the journey of the book, a long journey of the course of three months in swirling water, that almost overtook me but ended up producing a flower of the. mind, expanding ever outward. I don’t know if I’ll ever return to Four Eyes, I had a lot planned for it but it seems less important now, there are other things that need my attention, but if you ever want to know about the journey of our illusions, or even the personal transmuted alchemy of doing deep healing work, it might not work for some but it just might inspire for a few.

It’s a tragic time in the world but I hope you enjoyed this little story, it’s as complex or as simple as you want to make it. In the depths of the night and the tragedy of the day, I hope it cheered everyone up, or brought a sense of the mysteriousness of the day. It’s here.

Fear of Sexuality

Lets talk about something a lot of folks in our culture are afraid of or embarrassed of, let’s get real, sit down and talk a little about sex. Is that embarrassing? Why? Let’s look at a few things. My first girlfriend used to see phaliic symbols in everything, she talked about how it’s structure defined so many of the objects around us. From pencils to doorknobs, she was obsessed with the process of design in phallic symbols, it’s really interesting to look at. I don’t agree or disagree with her. Is that a remnant of phallic structure from a male dominated society or is it not? I’m not sure but it was interesting, so I dove into something yesterday and just said, OK, lets break a taboo and look at it.

Americans consume pornography and light pornography in films in record droves. Our society is so obsessed with sex that we barely talk about it, leading to the most hypocritical stance imaginable. Even I used to look at it, though I haven’t in almost a decade. It’s just not interesting to me anymore, and I realised I was just looking to try and prove to myself that I wasn’t queer. Self-hate from queerness is something I experienced from the culture I grew up in, ultra-conservative Texas, which contains so much hypocrisy.

Morality and monogomy is something I’ve always lived by. The only reason I’ve been interested in even slightly flirting with anyone is because I may have, what might be called a healthy love addiction. Though that has dissipated over time, it used to be quite strong. It had nothing to do with sexualty but it was the strongest form of happiness. It’s like a drug. This is common in many cultures. For example, I did some research into the Bhutan culture, which is phallus based. The presence of the phallus is everywhere, so different from our culture which is afraid of erections. Which are actually a form of blushing. Here’s a difficult medical academic article which looks at it, warning, this could be a trigger for some folks

I personally do not feel sexual desire. That’s part of my chemical make up, which I tried for years to try and disprove. It was only until I discovered the ace community that I realized, oh my god, this is a thing. The same way that people view phalluses everywhere, might be akin to the process of always seeing faces in things, something that people do with my art in a political constuction to decieve and acheive their own ends. The only reason I have any response in my body to sexuality is because of fear, which is well documented in medical journals.

But lets talk about sex more. It’s everywhere and it’s nothing to be afraid of. Want to talk about the patriarchy and combat it for more equality? We’re going to have to think about it. It’s like blushing, and that’s it. In an embarrased society that is puritanical in nature, perhaps we can look at the complete hypocracy and see it for what it really is, it’ s just part of being human, and the cult of puritanical culture defies and undermines our stated principles of religous freedom.

On Building Imaginary Worlds

I just wrapped up a deep journey into past experiences in a story I wrote more than six years ago, it was a deep journey and I covered all of the essential frames of the story. The rest remain as storytelling exposition that wasn’t that important, so I finished exactly what I came for. I wanted to reapproach the past and come to understanding of my own mind and consciousness. It covers a lot of ground: social, gender equality, peacework, climate, queerness, ecology, biodiversity. It is its own imagined world, in many ways a rough guide to how I saw the world back then. I explored it with vibrational patterns of color, blended in ways I could never do in the physical space of painting, I realized I had to leave the original materials aside, and that’s when something happened, I realized I was almost in an emotional and physical state of movement, each record of motion in fast brush strokes that was almost a transcendental experience.

It’s probably something that could only be done with digital paint. I hesitate to call it a dance but it may have well been, it took over my mind in physical motion. Making worlds is complex, yet somehow natural. It’s possible that all we know is an invented reality, only transcribed with our limited tools of measurements and mathematics. World building isn’t something rarified, its methods are developed over time but we all have it. The ability to see is relative and natural to our mind. What do we know of the external world? Is there an interior or exterior, is all we perceive something we understand ourselves, and unto ourselves? I personally don’t believe that there is. I think that’s why I feel so violated when my art is misunderstood because I think it goes against the moral foundation of what art is. It’s how we, as artists, express our most vital truths, our ability as artists to describe our world in a way that we define as our own. Walt Whitman says this through poetry but I’m having this dialogue on paper as a conversation with myself, this may be what I’ve been working toward, a way to understand the mind.

We are each a sovereign country, and the most horrific thing one can do is take away our rights as individuals who create the work to express our perceptions. It’s silencing, and in each silence there is a kind of death, an unspoken, invisible dullness that wraps our souls in a shroud of the thoughts of another, it takes away our most fundamental language, one we know from childhood, our inalienable right to our imaginations, one that is forgotten over time. In the same way, Four Eyes was a record of a kind of childhood. I had just graduated the San Francisco Art Institute and there was kind of birth, my first steps back into the world outside of the monastery walls of its interior landscape. Back in the East Bay I started to make a zine, and I studied so hard, so much I may have forgotten. Long nights in the drawing studios, spending time drawing lines on paper and on a tablet, hard won classes on anatomy and physical movement, and a study of art going back to my earliest memories, and academic study for almost ten years, dropping off flyers in the east bay, having small art shows, it was my world, something I almost left behind.

Going back was like going into another world, and for almost three months between the first few issues, I was in that world, literally. I almost couldn’t think about anything else, I felt like I had to get back as quickly as possible, so I could add the dream sequence that was building in my mind. And that was when I realized I didn’t have to make it, the dream was simply through the liberation of color in my mind, past programming. At first, I was terrified, then hesitant, and then, immediately, into a sudden ecstatic state in my mind as a rush of color of all the panels. The dream was beautiful: it’s a state I’ll never truly be able to express. It was a deep travel into the world of my inner consciousness, and I communicated it past all the hate and misunderstanding, which violated and threatened my life and reality, a complete and total invalidation of the deepest realities and love in my human soul. When I look at these images as a series, in my personal view, I find the presence of something beautiful, it is perhaps Buddha, perhaps God, or some other name or combination. What does it matter, those are only words describing our perception. I’m not a theologian, but I experienced something I know for a fact, now, that art is mysterious and perhaps can never be understood, and in that I can always believe.

And that is why I’ll never stop fighting against the misuse of my art and misunderstanding. Because that, to me, is worse than death, it’s a complete and total invalidation of my rights as a living being, not just death but a complete erasure of who I am and what I believe. My worlds are my own inner home and reality, and the people I let in I invite in, and as Walt Whitman says, I sing the song of myself. No one can take that away from me. Colors do not belong to people. They belong to the world, and our own specific human perception, that’s how we understand the world, it’s not through some absurd and ridiculous game. In the last scene of Four Eyes, Tam removes their blindfold and saves their partner, in that way I rescued in my work my deepest beliefs and concepts. I have seen so much this week, my mind is on fire, and the record of that work remains.

Open Heart, Open Mind

So I’ve really been enjoying alternative viewpoints of psychology and healing, but I really realized something. I think the healing I’ve experienced just comes from an open heart and open mind, a willingness to give and receive, and a faith in the wonder and mystery in the world. Yet tonight I went outside and went to see the moon, yet a distant star, so much farther than anything else in the sky, was shining brightly in the night sky, among the lights and other reflections across the expanse of space, and looking up made me think of the numberless stars in the sky, and I really felt something greater than the world around me, yet this distance across space and time enveloped the warmth of the earth in perfect harmony and allowed me to return to the center, realizing my beliefs in our purpose to protect the natural world. I wrote a few words yesterday in a journal I placed on the windowsill and went to open it.

It was filled with wishes for a more peaceful world, one more just and beautiful, and I immediately thought of my garden outside, almost without thinking. That’s the transformation I really needed to feel tonight, which was really a return, a realization of the absolute beauty of the world, both within me and without me, and I see a passing flame in the darkness of the night, one shining brightly across the sky, and I realized something again, something I always saw in the town we used to live in, from a university in a town nearby, it was the words, so beautiful: “Ten thousand minds on fire”.

Is that what the heavens remind us of every night, that we are all lights in the depths of the sky? As a teacher, I feel that one of our most vital roles is to kindle that fire within all of our hearts, and all of our minds. That may be the greatest secret to uncover, so plainly in sight, every night in the brightness of a dark sky. I can’t wait for morning when light will cover the world around us all, a chance to grow and look up, and never forget, that the wonder of the world around us, and in the beautiful expanse of the heavens, a brightness even in the night. An open heart and open mind, may we never forget, for there is so much here, in our world, our hearts, and the limitless wonder of the stars in the deepest night, across our hearts, and the limitless wonder, across the earth and sky.