Do What You Love

May 2, 2016

AwkTHi all!  It’s been ages since I have posted anything, but I wanted to say hello to readers who still subscribe to Privilege of Parenting, and welcome to any new readers who may wander by.

when I was blogging about parenting I realized that I ended up giving a fair amount of advice, when mostly I wanted to connect and offer compassion and community.  Writing about parenting was an attempt to merge my interest in writing and creativity (and also to make sense of my own creative block and maybe finally break through it) with my interest in psychology and especially in my wish to contribute in a wider way than just direct psychotherapy.

When I started blogging my kids were in elementary school.  As I write this post I am about to travel to attend my oldest son’s college graduation; my younger son is nearly finished with his freshman year in college; my wife is back in school studying to become a therapist and my dog isn’t getting any younger… and yet as the house grew quiet I found myself drawing, like when I was a kid.

I have always liked kids’ art, maybe because despite all my attempts to “grow up” I am very much a kid at heart.  I am by no means conversant in Nietzsche, but someone who studied philosophy told me that Nietzsche believed that humans needed to live as “artists” by which he meant to be our best Selves, a true expression of our hearts with all their feelings in whatever we “do” in life, more than he meant to paint or write or make music.

I like that idea, and in parenting I tried to be my best Self, but in order to do that I needed to write about it, think about it, talk with others about it, get support and offer support.  The blessings do come, over time so it seems, from “leaving it all on the field.”  Maybe it’s that transcendent field of all-in commitment, beyond terror and dread, through passion to love that Rumi means when he says, “Beyond right and wrong there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.”

Nietzsche says, “In spite of fear and pity, we are the happy living beings, not as individuals, but as one living being, with whose creative joy we are united.”

So many teaching on wisdom speak about balancing opposites; Jung is all about differentiating and relating opposites within the psyche; brain science is all about differentiated parts communicating harmoniously in both “executive function” and also gratitude and present moment awareness.  Nietzsche was all about the balance of Apollonian reason and Dionysian passion.

When I think about those I love, and I am pleased to acknowledge that I love a lot of people, I think my favorite things are kindness and authenticity; those are the people who inspire me to keep taking chances and trust that I will be loved even if I fail or end up looking stupid.

It is in this spirit that I wanted to admit that I have been spending my late night hours after full days of work taking an arts class and drawing at my dining room table (a table that I will have to clear for the summer with a full house about to happily constellate).

I ran into a couple of colleagues last fall at a psychology conference, in a breakout seminar on the psychology of procrastination and avoidance.  Newsflash:  like all anxiety it is about avoidance.

I admitted that I wanted to make a graphic novel, or at least a story, and my colleagues had some projects of their own still not accomplished.  We worked to be more conscious of our fears, and agreed to keep supporting the others to check in and keep going.

Then a client brought me a book on cartooning, which I highly recommend for anyone who wants to get more creative but feels intimidated or stuck (Syllabus by Linda Barry); and then my artsy son and my wife saw my drawings and encouraged me to take a class.  I was nervous—and I was right to be, if the point is being “good” as it was young people serious about an arts career, and teachers already having arts careers.  I was older than the teachers by about 20 years, and nearly 40 years older than the youngest student.  But they were awesome—so kind and encouraging—and soon I was just having fun (and working hard—deadlines and structure really help us get things accomplished).

Tonight is the last class, and I know I’m going to miss it.  I have to turn my comic book in, which I just finished yesterday (and I’m waiting for Amazon Prime to deliver my “long reach stapler” just in time for the deadline).  We also had to make a website to share our art.  I wouldn’t have done that either without the assignment and the structure.  I’m tired, but I think I might take another class.

I guess I share this for two reasons: 1) to invite you to come read my comic book; and 2) to encourage and inspire any readers who may be feeling a little stuck to let the connections with others be part of the fabric that allows us to create—not necessarily “works” of art, but relationships and experiences that weave us into that “one living being, with whose creative joy we are united.”

To read my Comic, “Poultry Germs,” visit awkwardtangent.com

And in any event, thanks to the many who inspire me with their sincerity and encouragement to keep it real—wishing all who may come upon these words compassion, friendship and creative joy in life well-lived.

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Wake Up

January 19, 2015

I would say, “Happy Martin Luther King Day,” except we’re not there yet.  Instead let’s just acknowledge that it’s Martin Luther King Day and admit that we have not yet overcome and that today’s a day to keep on pushing forward on liberty and justice for ALL.

When I left Selma the other night I was so choked up that I could hardly speak for fear of breaking down in tears.

I encourage you to go and see it.  Now.  In a theater.  With other human beings.

As Andy and I filed out of the movie last Saturday night in North Hollywood, the crowd funneled into a little corridor and I fell behind Andy and into line next to a beautiful couple.  Maybe it was because they were African American and I couldn’t help but fantasize that we were, if not exactly “marching,” at least walking out of the movie together in a spirit of truth and love.  I turned to the man next to me and a few words tumbled out:  “When is American going to actually get it?” I asked.

The man looked at me and said, “I keep asking myself the same thing.”  His date turned back to me, as we slowed for a moment together in the theater lobby.   She smiled and said, “I think a lot of us feel the same way.  I think we all have to just speak up.”

I went to film school with Spike Lee, but I don’t think I really and truly got what he was talking about until maybe fifteen or twenty minutes ago.  Maybe it took the LA riots, multicultural training, psychology training, working in the trenches of mental health, working in Beverly Hills, parenting or who knows what to get my white Jewish suburban head out of my clueless butt and start to wake up (and maybe I’m still asleep but at least hoping the dream of ignorant and wrong might turn sweet and right).

It was 1988 when Spike made School Daze, and his message was indeed, “Wake up.” It’s still time to wake up.  We are not awake.

When it comes to injustice, anger is a proper response,  it is how we know something is unfair.  Racism rests on ignorance.  No one who is truly awake is unjust.  It’s safe to say that most of us, or at least myself, are not enlightened, not fully awake.  Knowing this is a start.  Not knowing things, together, and non-violently, is freedom of speech.

Dr. King was remarkable.  He stood for Truth, and his use of non-violence is in perfect alignment with Truth because while lies require liars to tell them, the Truth just is.  Justice in any absolute sense, like Truth, is beyond human opinion.  The conversation is our right, even our responsibility, but when we get it right all will be free and all will agree that they are free.

When Dr. King kneels on the bridge leading from Selma to Montgomery, a rising tide of Truth behind him, a wretched wall of racism, privilege and hate in front of him, he is like Moses continuing to lead the long march from slavery to true liberty.

Like Moses who himself never gets to the Promised Land, Dr. King helped make something possible, but it’s on us to take it all the way home to our shared world, our collective consciousness.

We may or may not be “Charlie” this week.  Freedom of speech, not to mention freedom from slavery, poverty, tyranny, sexism, discrimination, homophobia, brutality, exploitation and hate may remain a dream for far too many, but it’s a dream we can all share (or else perpetuate the nightmare of lying idiot humanity from which we cannot seem to awaken).

I’m hoping that the vast majority of human beings want a peaceful earth.  I’m hoping that the vast majority of human beings, if allowed to be educated, safe and free would come to the self-evident conclusion upon which our American Constitution is founded:  the equality of ALL.

Love and Truth and Justice are like the water under every bridge.  Truth, like Water, is  humble, powerful, life-giving and clear to everyone.

Dr. King said, “Wake up” (to his dream of equality) in the 1960s.  Spike said, “Wake up” in the 1980s.  Ava DuVerny’s, Selma says, “Wake up, dignified and non-violent” right now, although Oscar (which might be made of white gold) didn’t much notice.

The woman in the lobby said, “Speak up.”

And so I am speaking up as an infrequent blogger inspired to voice, but mostly just to say, “Go see Selma.”  Vote this Martin Luther King Day with your time, your money, your heart for justice and love—the ingredients that make this movie and that make the world I want to live in.

Selma says it straight.  I say, “Amen to Selma.”

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A Review of “Little Elliot, Big City,” by Mike Curato

August 26, 2014

Of all the imaginary juice joints in the wide world of the child’s mind, it had to be Elliot, Little Elliot who walked into Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle where I was sitting with my legs dangling from a booster seat, trading “what time is it?” jokes with Madeline.  Ferdinand was drowsing over a flower […]

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nothing to say but it’s okay

April 6, 2014
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My Father, My Selfie

January 26, 2014

Greetings.  Readers of this blog have perhaps noticed that I have been disinclined to write in recent months.  When I first leapt into this blogosphere back in 2009, and felt like Sandra Bullock spinning terrified in Gravity, a Wolf, D.A. Wolf, came by like some virtual George Clooney (although with better dialogue to be sure) […]

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A Guide to Bad Dreams About Our Children

August 4, 2013

Given that I can’t really keep up with the demand for dream interpretation that I have been receiving and that I don’t have time to organize the material into a proper guidebook to nightmares about our children I have elected to take an interim step:  to offer nine blog posts dealing with the most common […]

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That Sinking Feeling—Dreams about Children Drowning

August 4, 2013

Below you will find a thread of dreams from youngest to older children involving water and drowning.  This is the most common category of nightmares I have received from parents so at the very least you are not alone in this nightmare. Some theories of dreaming include the notion that our brains naturally experience a […]

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Nightmares about Children Falling

August 4, 2013

The dreams below, organized from younger to older children, all involve kids falling.  It seems that when we fall asleep it is common to have the sensation of lightness or floating.  After sinking feelings and drowning dreams, dreams about flying and/or falling seem to be the second most common category. Some anthropologists have theorized that […]

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Nightmares of Children being Kidnapped or Chased

August 4, 2013

The dreams in this category all have to do with bad guys, monsters, scary animals or other malevolent forces abducting, chasing, harming and tormenting the dreamer’s child or children. This category of dreams could be called “Shadow” dreams insofar as they may be dealing with our own dark places, the aggression and cruelty that lurks […]

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Nightmares about Children Running Away or Being Neglected or Abandoned

August 4, 2013

In these dreams a terrified parent, often feeling helpless to stop it, witnesses a child in danger, running away, perhaps into traffic.  Other variations include realizing that one has forgotten or abandoned a child, or a supposedly trusted partner has neglected their responsibilities. Below are a series of dreams illustrating this theme.  The hope is […]

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