life

A good story doesn’t necessarily need words.

I’m obsessed with Son Lux and all their side projects lately. They also have phenomenal videos.

Make sure you watch this one till the end. There’s a twist in the tale.

What did you think of this story?

What Are You Writing For?

What are you Writing For?

As a creative person and one who’s plagued by existential questions, I get trapped into that circle of thinking if what I’m doing matters. Will anyone read my writing? Will anyone care? Will I ever be able to make a living from it? Am I just wasting my time and energy torturing nice people with my substandard prose?

I work with writers and for writers (and this applies to all creative people), and I think we all have that dream of becoming famous (even if you say you don’t, you wouldn’t mind it, would you?). We all have that hope of changing the world with our work. We want to be praised and validated. We want to communicate on a deeper level. We want to be admired, at least just a little bit, and be able to say I told you so to all the haters. Most of all, we want to leave a legacy after our death.

But our dreams deflate each time we see the sheer numbers of other people who have the same exact dream as we do and are pursuing it more efficiently and more fervently. They write better, market better, sell better. We see other artists kicking ass out there, and we wonder how in the world they do it. Maybe we don’t have the resources, the time, or the energy. Maybe we don’t have the savvy or the persistence. Maybe we’re suffering from do-I-suck-a-phobia.

It’s easy to get caught up in the race to the bestsellers list, but let me wrap my arm around your shoulders and guide you into my existential realm here. Although contemplating our place in the ginormous, black Universe can make us feel insignificant and pointless at times, in the same way it frees us from our anguish. Look at it this way…

  1. You only have one life (as far as we know). If there is anything noble about it, it’s living in the pursuit of creating and appreciating beauty in all its forms. It’s one of the only redeeming qualities of our species.
  2. Your one life is very short. You could spend it watching TV. You could become a typical consumer, chasing promotion after promotion so you can raise your standard of living. Or you could live a life of passion and do whatever makes your soul sing.
  3. You have to be yourself. If there’s one thing I learned about being happy in this life, it’s being true to who you are. If you only behave and do what you think you’re supposed to do instead of what you really want to do, you will be a miserable person. Guaranteed.
  4. Your audience doesn’t matter all that much. Human beings are a very small, messy, and crude part of the universe. Having their mass approval is not necessarily anything special. There is much of existence beyond our little blue sphere that might marvel at your work if they ever got to experience it.

Creativity is a gift. In making something out of nothing, we can be the gods of our own little universes.

I hope you all found this comforting.

Happy Friday and Happy Creating!

Do you ever wonder if what you’re creating matters?

How do you think your work fits into the Universe?

What are you working on right now?

What are you writing for?

Photo source

Are Writers Sociopaths?

William Somerset Maugham Quote Artists

Excerpt from Of Human Bondage by William Somerset Maugham.

I finally finished reading Of Human Bondage. Honestly, I didn’t want it to end. It’s an amazing book that resonated with me on multiple levels. My copy has kept me company toilet-side for the past year and is dog-eared and slathered in orange highlighter. I’ll probably be posting more quotes from the book whenever they come to mind.

There were so many “Yes!” moments for me in the story watching Philip explore what it means to be an artist, not only of writing or painting, but an artist of his own life.

What do you sacrifice for art?

For authenticity?

For beauty?

For originality?

For love?

This quote, spoken by Philip’s friend Clutton, is a perfect example.

Oh, my dear fellow, if you want to be a gentleman you must give up being an artist. They’ve got nothing to do with one another. You hear of men painting pot-boilers to keep an aged mother – well it shows they’re excellent sons, but it’s no excuse for bad work. They’re only tradesmen. An artist would let his mother go to the workhouse. There’s a writer I know over here who told me that his wife died in childbirth. He was in love with her and he was mad with grief, but as he sat at the bedside watching her die he found himself making mental notes of how she looked and what she said and the things he was feeling. Gentlemanly, isn’t it?”

I think every writer develops the capacity to objectify people, events, and emotions. We have to distance ourselves from them so that we can examine them – whether they are tragic, vulgar, absurd, joyful, wrathful – and render them in their truest light according to our perspective (or that of our characters). The more I write, the more skilled I become at this distancing. It’s kind of creepy.

Does this make artists predatory, opportunistic sociopaths?

Weeelll, I say.. not completely.

I admit, I do sometimes pursue adventures in the same way the proverbial lawyer chases an ambulance, but I also do it as a means to greater understanding and depth of experience. For me it’s a form of delirious homage for all the mysteries, horrors, and delights of existence. It allows me to ignore my ego’s emotional investment in a situation so that I have the ability to look at it simply as it is, and not what I believe it is or should be.

(Let’s hope I’m not outing myself on some personality disorder here.)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Have at it below!

Existential Nihilism and the Dead Dog Blues

RIP Roscoe Wojciechowski

I’ve been avoiding this article for a long time, which is a sure sign that it must be written. As individuals, we often hide from the truth, especially about ourselves. Our souls’ innocence and hope slowly deteriorate inside our soft bodies while we occupy our short time on Earth with vapid entertainment, aggression and judgment, and the pursuit of accumulating “stuff.” We swallow the fear we feel down deep inside with the help of a pill or bottle.

Some people are not so easily distracted. It has always taken me enormous effort to avoid thinking about the Great Unknowingness. I tried Christianity and chaos. I constantly sought diversions and substances to avoid the questions that I had always feared the most, the questions that left me in a quiet desperation that could never be buried or drowned.

More recently I tried to focus on life’s small milestones and achievements. I began writing as a less direct way to figure out what is going on, and it has brought me purpose and peace, but how easily the fragile veil of happiness is torn.

My dog died last November. His name was Roscoe, and he was my best friend. We had grown up a lot together. We watched each other go through growing pains as we both tried to learn how to behave like adults. Roscoe tolerated my loser boyfriends as they came and went. I endured his chewing stage and his great escapes from the yard. Finally, I met my Prince Charming, and we left the United States. After we got settled, Roscoe took a very brave flight to live with us in Panama.

Moving to a foreign country with no family or friends was very hard for me. Roscoe was the only part of my old life that I was able to take with me. I don’t have any children, so he became my son. Roscoe was my shadow every waking moment and my guardian during every hour I dreamed. I came when he called. I cooked for him. I doted on him day and night. He grew older and grayer, sweeter and wiser. I honestly liked Old Rossy better than the young one.

Then came the time that I knew he would die, and I hoped for it as much as dreaded it. We were both having a difficult time dealing with his failing body. He was suffering with a diseased heart and arthritis. He knew what was coming, and he’d look at me as if asking if he was dying correctly. Of course, he was doing a noble job.

Before Halloween, the Hubs and I had to go to Nicaragua for a week. Roscoe protested by lying across my closet floor so that it was almost impossible for me to pack my suitcase, but I had to be tough because whenever I got upset it always made it worse for him.

I knew he was afraid he was going to die while I was gone. He told me in very clear, sad-doggie-eye language that he couldn’t hold on much longer, but I said, “Just stay here till I get back,” and like a good dog, he did.

The night we returned home, Roscoe looked great. I thought the break from me helped him. We had a great night together with his two little brother dogs, Le-Le and Teri. I was relieved. Everything was going to be okay.

Roscoe and Christa Wojo's dogs.

…with his brothers, Teri (the spotted mutt) and Le-Le (the Rottie) during Christmas time.

The next day Roscoe wouldn’t eat. I was concerned, but thought it would pass until that night he laid his head in my hand. I knew this meant something because Roscoe was not a cuddly dog. For some reason he wanted to be held, and I cradled his head so long my arm went numb. We were watching a movie, Pacific Rim, which it seemed so stupid and absurd because I knew my doggie was slipping away. What are we doing watching a movie? We’re dying. We’re all dying.

When we woke up the following morning, Ros was in an unnatural position on the floor. His tongue hung out, and his eyes were wide and unseeing. I came to his side and straightened out his body. His consciousness returned for a moment, and he and I were able to look at each other one last time, but within the hour I felt the last trembling of his heart, and he was gone.

(Time to get the tissues! I knew I wouldn’t get through this without crying).

DSC02509

Roscoe–always a deep thinker.

I had no idea how bad the grief would be. He was a dog, right? This was nature. And he had the best golden years any animal could have. He went from a tiny apartment in Florida to spending the last half of his life in the wild mountains of Chiriquí. Lucky dog! Now it was his time to go, and it couldn’t have gone any better as far as dying goes. He waited till we got home from our trip. He passed peacefully in my arms. We were so fortunate to be with him when he took his last breath.

These thoughts should’ve consoled me, but they didn’t. I was a mess and cried erratically for months. I thought I would just need some time to adjust, but I haven’t really. I wasn’t sure how to live without my companion, and his death reopened the sucking black void of the Great Unknowingness. I couldn’t figure out why we humans evolved to love so much that we are crippled when someone we love dies. It’s mentally and physically debilitating. It’s miserable for your clan and every creature around you. It makes you weak and vulnerable. How did that improve our ancestors’ chances of survival?

Loss is like a morbid disease.

Although I never felt it so keenly before, this anguish was not surprising to me. Since I was a girl, I’ve cried myself to sleep at night knowing one day my parents would be dead. I’ve spent my entire life with this fear of loss and thought maybe there was something wrong with me. Later, I found out that this condition is often referred to as existential depression, and though I’m not an unhappy person by any means, there is an undercurrent of anguish that never leaves me.

Nothing has brought me relief so far. From experimenting with psychedelics and drinking myself into a stupor to huffing through kundalini kriyas and training my brain with binaural beats—no matter what I do, nothing truly and permanently exterminates that nagging black thought that fingers my mind.

Why are we here?

Where do we go?

What does it all mean?

At least with this manner of thinking there are questions to ask. This assumes there is a reason for us being here, that we do go somewhere after our bodies rot, and that our lives do mean something. One simply must endure the mystery, but then there’s the more terrifying possibility to contemplate. What if we just die and that’s it? There is no why, where, or what. What if we are as important to the Universe as a flea’s fart is to us?

What if it all means nothing?

Everything we see and feel is a perception or illusion and is limited by what our human body can sense. What we see is not the truth of existence. And I want to know The Truth. The only problem is billions of people have died without ever knowing the truth, and my greatest fear is that I will suffer the same fate.

I do have an inner soul; some might say it’s my higher self. I try to summon her as much as I can with yoga and meditation. When she shows up, she speaks to me as if I’m a simpering toddler. With endless patience she tells me, and I’m quoting her on this, that she “knows everything” and it “will all be revealed” and “it’s all good.”

This placates me for a few hours if I’m in a receptive mood, but my anal, logical brain can’t accept the mystery and wants a concrete explanation for everything. Anal, logical brain knows there is reason and symmetry in nature, and it won’t let me sleep until we make sense of it all, damn it.

In another dark corner of gray matter shivers my ever-terrified subconscious, which clutches to attachments and goes into fits if ever anything threatens to change.

We fight all the time, and it’s exhausting.

The good news is that I’m not afraid of my death. I’ve been unconscious a number of times for varied reasons, and I didn’t feel a thing. I didn’t remember a thing. Of course this notion when dwelled on too long will make one volunteer for a lobotomy. Not feeling a thing. Not remembering a thing.

Black,

silent

vacuum.

Ah, the meaning of life. Enough to drive any reasonable person batshit crazy. This is really the point of My Sweet Delirium. We can’t figure it all out, but we can have fun trying.

At least The Universe was kind enough to provide a suitable environment for the evolution of puppies and the advent of wine. These kindnesses do allow me to keep the faith. . . a little.

Miss you, Roscoe. . .

Christa Wojo's dog

RIP 11/4/2013

Do you have trouble coping with the Great Unknowingness?

How does it inform your day to day living?

Who’s helped you most with understanding the meaning of life? Death? 

Please leave your comments.

Edited by Candace Johnson at Change It Up Editing

The Tree of Life is Dead

Silver dollar Eucalyptus and volcano in Panama

The Tree seemed like a god: unmovable and indestructible. I worry—does it feel any pain? Is it whimpering as it withers, its face pushed in the dirt?

 

I was packing up, getting ready to leave for a short stop in Chitré for The Hubs’ business, and then onto Panama to catch a flight to the US to visit my family.

 

As I stood in the kitchen finishing my coffee, I listened to the wind and idly gazed outside. The branches of the giant eucalyptus tree were being blown to and fro and for some reason I thought, “Take it in. You may never see this place again.” I guess it was one of those fatalistic notions you have before going on an airliner. You never know if you’re ever going to come back home.

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