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.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

wolf pascoe May 3, 2016 at 5:36 pm

re: “Poultry Germs” & drawings on Awkwardtangent: Fantastic. More, please.

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ElleG June 4, 2016 at 3:44 pm

I’ve read your entire blog and will be ordering the book.
I can’t even put into words how your blog posts have given me hope. So I won’t.

I loved the comic book, btw. And there’s something about that fallen tree drawing that makes it hard to look away, it’s almost comforting to look at.

Your words have been “one of those things” that has changed my path. In a good way. Take care

Reply

Bruce June 7, 2016 at 10:43 pm

Hi Elle, Thank you so very much for your kind words—they are much appreciated. And I really appreciate what you say about the fallen tree—I hope to make another story about that time and your encouragement makes me feel like hanging in and doing more comics.

Warmest Regards to you and all you parenting and creative endeavors :)

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