Art imitates life

I’ve been struggling for some time to identify the feelings that have been running through my mind. They’re all so familiar, yet in some sort of foreign and unknown configuration. Like if my normal dysfunction is a Rubik’s Cube, then my current dysfunction is that same cube jumbled up. I haven’t been able to place it and explain what’s wrong.

Normally it takes the form of my standard depression. Encompassing sadness, deep and wide, swallowing me like the ocean. It’s all too known to me, like an old friend you’d rather not see, but they always find their way to you. Once in their company, you talk through the night and tear open every wound.

But no, this time it’s different. There’s an irritability; one that leaves me unable to act or interact. There’s a maddening dissatisfaction that renders everything to not only fall short of joyful, but to somehow be a small, unsurprising letdown. Then there’s the apathy. I’m dissatisfied, but not enough to care; enough to feel the bristle of irritation, but not enough for the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Sometimes life is love without joy. Sometimes it’s hate without anger. Sometimes it’s clamoring for routines while despising a schedule. Duality defines everything, because for a positive there is always a negative. But sometimes, just sometimes, the duality isn’t between light and dark, it’s between light and light.

Apathy pulls the substance from experience and leaves it a hollowed out version of itself. You get half of everything, split down the middle. So you get dichotomy of love and joy. You feel the distance between them, even though they’re so often intertwined.

In a sense, the numbness of apathy is actually a greater depth of emotion, no matter how shallow it feels. How many people have the opportunity to break down emotions, not into separate definitions, but to the individual ingredients within those definitions? Like a trained palate eating a complex dish, the apathetic mind has the ability to dissect and separate out emotion.

This isn’t praise or admiration, this is me trying to make sense and find a positive in the shitfest I’ve been feeling. Someone recently told me they miss my positive posts and the encouragement I gave to others. My wife has been telling me that for months, but I haven’t seen a way back to it for some time.

This is a bleak attempt at positivity, and I know it. I won’t pretend this is encouraging or motivating. The closest thing I would say is encouraging about this is what it says to other people who experience this. You know, the message or whatever. And here is that message:

This is the art of life. At times it can be bright and loud, echoing from hilltops; and other times it’s grey and muted, and sound is swallowed in the void. No matter what piece is next in the show, we take it in and experience it. Because that’s what you do with life. Sometimes you love it, sometimes you hate it, and sometimes it makes you feel nothing. Just like art.

And no matter how bad art can be, we always want more, because what is life without it? And no matter how bad life can be, we SHOULD want more, because what would art be without the experiences of life, both good, bad, and indifferent? Art imitates life, so paint with the strokes of your experience, and create your masterpiece around what you have lived. Life also imitates art, so make your life your masterpiece of what you have created.

What do we do now?

I haven’t posted in a long time, and for a good number of reasons. The shutdowns have beat me up mentally. The breaking of routines, the extended time home, the financial concerns…its all taking its toll. I’ve been facing some pretty bad depression along the way, and I’ve had more than one change to my meds. Anybody on meds knows that that’s a lot to deal with on its own.

I’ve been looking for positives. I really have. Some people are like “oh enjoy the time with your family,” and I do, but that’s not enough to carry through. As an artist, people are saying “work on art, try to do commissions,” and I do, but that’s not enough either.

Most of the coping strategies people suggest, or that we feel may be correct in this situation, miss the mark. They all operate on the concept that if we just make it through this inconvenience, everything will go back to normal. The problem is, normalcy is dead. I mean, things haven’t been normal for a long time, but we could still operate the same way we always did. But this? This has pushed us past the point of no return, and things will never be the same.

That’s a massive blow to our psyche, and it’s really difficult to accept. Add to that the uncertainty of day to day, how so many of us don’t even know how to pay our bills, and it can feel debilitating. How do we move forward from here?

The first thing I suggest is to do your best not to worry about what’s ahead. I know that’s way easier said than done, but right now we’re dealing with so many variables contributing to so much uncertainty, and almost all of it is completely beyond our control. When you worry and stress over things beyond your control, it only makes you feel helpless and small. Most of our actual concern needs to be directed towards things we can affect.

Instead, we need to look at today. What can you do today to make the most of your situation? There’s no one simple answer for everyone, or even an individual. Your personal needs in a time of crisis can change from day to day, or even hour to hour.

Maybe cleaning your house will make you feel better today. Maybe a giant plate of pancakes will. That’s me today, btw. Maybe you have a hobby that you could use to make a little extra money. Write. Paint. Call friends. Sleep in. There’s no single answer.

But the answer is clear. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Work if you can, but be kind to yourself. Spend time with your family, but give yourself space. Eat food. Take showers. Read books.

I’m not claiming any of this is easy. I’m having a hell of a time, and plenty of fuck all days. I was completely down for about a week, and absent from all social media, including Instagram. That’s a big deal for a guy whose career hinges on visual presentation. Shit, I don’t think I’ve been off that long since rehab.

My arcing point is that we’re on the precipice of a massive societal shift. There’s no fighting it, there’s no petitioning and protesting that will return things to normal. A virus doesn’t listen to pleas and bargains. Since normalcy is gone, we have to accept the current state, and guide it however we can.

And no matter how bad it can seem, we have to always remember that none of this is the worst case scenario. There is always something worse. The worst case scenario is that you die, and if you die, then you can’t possibly care that you got the worst because you’re dead. Anything short of dying is victory, and there is hope as long as you breathe.

Don’t give up. You’ll make it through, and find your way in this ever changing world. My heart is with everyone during this struggle. Lean on each other for support.

April 27th, 2020

I rang in my birthday crying. Not a few tears, but heavy, sobbing, compounding pressure in your head crying. In a way it was a relief, because I thought the pharmacy on my bathroom sink had stolen that from me. I don’t think I’ve cried since mom passed.

Life is rarely where you expect it to be at any given time. The forks in the road come in numbers, like metacarpals splaying outward from the carpals, and splaying again like bone fractals that wrap and encapsulate. The road is dark. The brush is thick. Our paths become adventures in guesswork, until they all meet in the same destination.

One would expect to develop immunity to, or at least appreciation for, the black humor that spells out our existence. For every success, a failure. For every victory, a loss. For every signal of recovery, a global pandemic. For the past four years, I’ve said “next year can’t be worse.” I should appreciate the intangible defiance that wishes to prove me wrong.

This isn’t a complaint, or a cry for commiseration, it’s a declaration to the infinite possibilities that brought me here. To the recurring chaos that presents itself as order. To the indifferent executioner’s blade, hungry for heads. An acknowledgment and acceptance of everything I can’t control.

It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to feel frightened, and not know where to go. The maps have been burned and replaced with the blueprints of madmen. All reason abandoned, like orphans abandoned below towering spires of the houses of god. Like those very spires abandoned by god himself. It’s okay to be lost in a world with no direction.

I don’t want pity, as I don’t give it to others. This is simply the gears turning in the machines of matter and time. We are from the earth until we’re one with the earth. Entropy takes all, just as all is born again.

Chop away at the overgrowth in that bone fractal maze; defy the twisting of the vine. Carve order in the chaos, and claim it. When the executioner’s blade falls, meet it with your own. I’m short on time, just like everyone else.

Life may move with repetitive indifference like a Foucault pendulum, and therein lies the only freedom we can have. The knowledge that no matter our pain, no matter our joy, life will plod along without pause. There’s no use in shedding tears and throwing your fists to the sky when your misfortune is simply statistical chance.

Tend to your wounds and move forward, because the ride doesn’t stop.

Happy birthday, Tim.

Artists are nonessential, so rethink your strategy

Lockdown day 38: I actually just counted the days on the calendar, because I barely know what day it is most of the time. That’s 38 days I’ve had my shop closed. 38 days without income. 38 days my staff has no income. As of now, we don’t even know when this will end. And as far as experts are saying, this exact thing will happen again this winter.

Yeah, it’s going to happen again. Only next time it very well could be worse. That puts a lot of us into some strange predicaments. There’s no doubt in my mind that we should be closed, and so should just about every other business. Without efforts to mitigate damage, estimates have put the death toll in America at over 2 million. So, yeah, I’m staying home.

But I’m chomping at the bit. We’re all hurtin for money, our bills keep coming in, and even the shit that’s deferred or the utilities that won’t get disconnected during this time will still want their money. Some of them won’t even wait, and they’ll expect it as soon as you go back to work.

In the same breath, I’m fuckin terrified to go back. God knows how bad shit could actually get, and while I trust my own sanitary behavior, I have zero faith in the general public. People are animals. But hey, just like millions of others, I’ll go back to work because I don’t have the luxury of choice right now.

*side note: I’m super ADD, and I had to google what a million people looked like when I mentioned it. It’s kind of crazy.

And luxury is a key word. The first businesses to open are ones whose workers are most affected by the shutdown. And while this may sound good, like “cool, we’re going back to work,” it’s actually the exact opposite. We’ll be going back to work before the pandemic is over, and the flood of people back into social settings will just cause a spike in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

The reason the government is trying to get us back to work before the pandemic is over is because they don’t want to pass the measures other nations have taken to support their people. Things like monthly payments, freezes on mortgage and rent, food assistance. They’d rather just send us back to work and put us at risk of infection. Because ultimately, we’re expendable.

“But Tim, this has nothing to do with the blog title!”

Well, yeah, I know, but you’re interrupting before I can finish. This leads up to the fact that this is what will happen, and we’ll work through the spike of returning to work, and it’ll level out. We’ll work our asses off and struggle to play catch up with the rent and mortgage that didn’t stop accumulating, or the utility bills that didn’t disconnect, but they want their money in 30 days.

And that second wave will hit us later this year, and it’ll be bigger, and worse than the first. Then between COVID-19 and the flu, and a dozen other illnesses that are more severe in winter months, our hospitals will be completely overwhelmed. We’ll be ordered to stay home again, the government will argue about how to take care of us, and times will be very lean.

As artists, the things we’ve been doing seem to be working to bring in a little extra money. Selling prints, gift certificates, taking deposits for future appointments. But how sustainable is it? When we reopen, we’re accountable for the money our clients have given us, and we have to make good on gift certificates, giveaways, and other promotional efforts we’ve been using to stay afloat. And we all know that when someone cashes in a gift certificate, it’s like working for free.

And that second wave. That second wave in winter. Will we be able to put enough away to survive a couple more months without work? Will our clients be willing to walk through the same shit we did during the first shutdown? Will we be able to rely on the government to help us in crisis?

The answer is simple. No. No we can’t rely on any of that and just expect it to work the same way. We need to diversify our skill set; cast a wide net. We have to start practicing the creativity and flexibility that are supposed to be hallmarks of artists, and find ways to generate money. We need to actually *gasp* WORK!

Toni Collette in “Hereditary” 2018

How can we think outside the box? How can we break from our industry and venture into unknown waters? Well, it’s very much a personal decision. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, we shouldn’t trap ourselves into something we hate doing, that’s just a given. But we also need to be open to things beyond our comfort zone. I’ll tell you what I’m doing, and maybe that will get the creative juices juicing for you.

My first step is I’ve started putting more effort and attention into things I already do. I’ve been working through several print on demand sites for a number of years now, producing tee shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, and a bunch of other stuff. I’ve never really pushed it too hard, and upkeep on my profiles has been lacking. I’m going to change all of that.

Some of my designs for Teepublic

My site of choice has been Teepublic, but I’m going to put more energy into Society6, which allows you to upload designs for a wider range of products, focusing heavily on decor and home goods. That means more pattern and print, as opposed to the imagery I use for shirts. That will allow me to use a huge amount of my abstract paintings and mixed media pieces. Maybe I’m not 100% sure of myself and comfortable with designing a fuckin bench, but I’m willing to put myself out there and learn.

I’ve also been stepping up the sale of vintage goods and repurposed/recycled artwork. I’m an avid collector and pack rat of old shit and weird, unique items, but my joy is in acquiring them, not keeping them. But the sale isn’t the fun part, so I’ve always slacked on it. So now I’m stepping up my eBay and Etsy sales. This has never been anything more than a hobby, and has only brought pocket change in the past, but right now it’s becoming a necessity to get better at it.

There’s a lot more I’ve started dabbling in. I’ve done a tee shirt design for a fledgling company, I’m working on an Instagram ad for a podcast. I’m trying to figure out how to put together a Patreon that would bring enough value to be worth a subscription. The sketchbooks and coloring books I published on Amazon will be available as digital downloads on my website, as well as a book on cover up tattooing that I’m working on.

And that should be the takeaway here. I’ve been telling people for years that we were bound to hit a devastating economic downturn, and that only the flexible artists will survive. We’re going to see a lot of tattoo shops close, and a lot of tattooers quit and get real jobs. You won’t survive tattooing unless you work in multiple styles and you get off the high horse and serve your clients instead of your own ego. Even then, you may not survive unless you can diversify your skills and work outside of your comfort zone.

You think the landscape is bleak right now, just wait a while. We’re early in the game. Start making moves now if you haven’t already. You’re going to need it.

Lockdown Day 5: I’m a Robot


I’d like to say no one saw this coming, but the signs were all right there in front of us. And I’d like to say it’ll all be over soon, but reality is a little more grim than that. We’re most likely still in the early phases of this, and things get worse before they get better. Buckle up.

Now let’s get a few things out of the way that will be very important in the coming months.

  • Practice acceptance. You can’t change the situation, and even though we don’t like it, it’s the reality we are currently in.
  • Stay flexible. The situation has been changing from day to day, so you need to be ready to change with it.
  • Care for your mental health. Be kind and forgiving to yourself. Take time for actual self care, and not just binging Netflix.
  • Stay productive. Continue to get things done, whether it’s just around the house, or working on hobbies or anything job related that can be done from home.

But let’s move on to the meat and potatoes! What are you doing? How are you staying productive? What are you doing now to place yourself to come out of this in the best position possible? If you’re not working, you have nothing but time, so put some plans in place.

I have dozens of projects in the pipeline that I’ve been brainstorming or that are actually started. Basically endless art to work on. That can get tiring because there’s so much to do, I freeze. So I make sure there’s things I need to do around the house. If that’s too much, I’ll write or shoot video. The point is, I stay busy.

One thing I’ve been doing is posting a lot of my smaller drawings for discounted rates. Having zero income is going to be brutal if it drags out too long, so anything I can get is extremely helpful. I’ve put together an album on Facebook, I’ll be updating the website shop with more work, and I’ve put together a sale list in my Instagram story highlights. Even though a lot of people aren’t working, some are, and many are supporting small business and artists by buying from them during this time of need.

A sample of discounted artwork (plugplugplug)

If you’re having trouble setting plans, I wrote a post not too long ago that addresses goal setting and planning. The first half of that post is mostly about having ADD, but the rest of it is productivity and goals. Hopefully that’s helpful.

Why the hell did I subtitle this “I’m a robot?” Well, because my picture edit came out funny, but also because I’m trying to emotionally detach as much as possible from this situation. With all that’s happening, we can’t afford to get lost in sadness, anger, or panic. We have to remain as clear headed and rational as possible. I also chose it because I’m trying to remain as functional as possible and continue to adapt and do my job in whatever way it presents itself.

That’s really what this boils down to. Remaining calm and still getting shit done. It’s funny how we somehow co-opted “keep calm and carry on” yet people are running around like maniacs. We actually have something to learn from that statement now, and that’s to do exactly what the fuck it says. Just stay calm and carry on in whatever way you can. We may not be getting bombed like WWII Great Britain, but we’re in as much danger.

So do what you can with what you have where you are. No, this won’t be over tomorrow, but it will be eventually. Don’t let it break you. Come out stronger on the other side.

Closure Announcement

Everyone’s lives are being affected by the coronavirus. Between school closures, shutdowns, and possible curfews, we’re all limited in our actions at this time. In order to stay responsible and follow safe practices, we will be closing Art Machine Productions until at least March 27th, as per governor’s order.

If you currently have an appointment with me, I will contact you with information about rescheduling. All deposits are still valid and will be applied to your reschedule date. I will be opening my books for late April/early May and scheduling new clients for those times. These will primarily be done through messaging in one place or another. I will continue to use my email, Facebook, Instagram, and text line during the shutdown.

I know the next several weeks will be difficult for everyone, but I also know that this is the only way to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Limiting personal contact and attention to hygiene are vital to slowing the spread of COVID-19. I appreciate your patience and cooperation during difficult times, and I look forward to welcoming you back to the studio when this is over.

Staying Focused While…wait, what was I saying?

The eternal frustration in my life is lack of organization. Stacks of books and stacks of papers, boxes of knickknacks and broken typewriter keys. A thousand projects and no semblance of order to accomplish them. A brain that pushes out information almost as fast as it attains it.

It’s not like I’m dumb, or the information is actually gone. I mean, I can tell you how many times they shoot Arnold Schwarzenegger in the leg with tranquilizers during the memory implantation in Total Recall. (It was 7.)

The problem is I draw a blank when I need the information. I try to take notes and make lists; set reminders in my phone. I tried putting everything in my calendar, putting nothing in my calendar, making comprehensive to do lists, making no to do lists. I’ve used a dozen apps and daily planners, but I still forget what I’m doing after walking 15 feet. I was hypercritical of my inability to focus and complete tasks, and would beat myself down for those perceived failures.

I have problems paying attention to anything that’s not in my forefront of thought, which is only occupied by the last thing to have caught my attention. When you’re talking to me and it seems I’m not listening or paying attention, well, I’m probably not. But I swear it’s not deliberate. It’s just that Midnight Oil is on the radio, and I remembered their singer looking scary when I was little, so I had to look him up, and I found out he became an Australian politician and civil rights activist for aboriginal peoples.

Is any of this making sense? I started writing it last night, but now I’m cooking pancakes and not sure if I’m staying on subject.

Every time I recognize that I’m off track, I try to correct course. I’ll go back to the last system that gave me some results, or the one before that. Sometimes it will work again, sometimes it won’t. Lists usually work to some degree, especially checklists. Sometimes scheduling tasks works well.

The important thing is that I don’t completely quit with my efforts to be somewhat organized, even if they look like disasters from afar. It’s sort of like I have to bring all of my thoughts and ideas into one mass and pick through them. Regrouping, refocusing. I’ll make a mini plan of action and set off.

Who knows how long before that plan of action is derailed. I constantly have new ideas and plans, and they start pushing the other ones out. I’m hoping my somewhat convoluted system of note taking will actually create order from the chaos. Or at minimum, keep me in check enough to not be completely flitting about like a drunk pixie.

I’ve read some books on organization and productivity that have helped me immensely. One of them is 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse. Another that I’m pretty sure was good is Delivered From Distraction by Dr. Edward Hallowell. I say I’m pretty sure, because ironically enough, I made it partway into the book, got sidetracked, and proceeded to lose it. I actually did that two or three times.

Today, I’ve combined strategies from everything I’ve done in the past. Just as with coping strategies, there’s the right tool for the job, and the more diverse knowledge you have, the better chance of handling a situation properly. You don’t cut wood with a hammer, you know what I’m saying? Fill your toolbox.

I still use reminders on my phone sometimes. I still put items in my calendar sometimes. I still make lists. But above all else, the easiest and most effective thing I’ve been able to do is simple, basic goal setting.

The idea with basic goal setting is to build an outline of how to achieve the goal. No matter how big or small, goals have steps to achieve them. If you break it down into those steps, you’ll be able to progress. Some steps will themselves have steps, especially for larger goals. In addition, there’s often tasks that aren’t part of any step in particular, but can still be done to aid in the process.

Working on outlines

I know diagnoses overlap heavily and often, and life itself creates distraction, so blaming this on ADD isn’t 100% fair. But to counter that fairness, I’ll be fair to myself by saying I can’t take ADD medication because it’s all habit forming and can be abused. So yeah, let’s blame it on ADD.

How long will this work? Who knows! Will I even finish this outline now that I’ve done enough to include a picture in a blog post? Maybe! I literally closed the book after I got enough for a pic. See how my head goes?

Like I said in the beginning, the important thing is that I keep trying, and don’t beat myself up when I fall off track. If you have problems with organization and attention, you have to do the same thing. don’t quit. And for Christ sake, don’t ever compare yourself to people who are tidy and organized and can keep track of their lives. Their brains don’t work the same as ours, and you need to accept that fact to make progress. Like a ten and a half foot, fittin in a seven shoe.

So that’s it. Stay aware and don’t beat yourself up. Or in the words of Corporal Hicks,

“Hey, I know we’re all in strung out shape but stay frosty and alert

It’s official! I’m bipolar!

I’ll tell you what, sentience is a bitch. There’s days I’d rather have no knowledge of self and just be a slave to instinct, like an animal. Then I watch a video of a wild dog eating a gazelle alive and change my mind.

It’s funny how such brutal and aggressive behavior is just natural, and not considered cruel, yet if a human did it, it would be barbaric and evil. It’s funny the standard we hold ourselves to. I’m not sure at what point the conscience evolved, but the shifting moral standards we’ve applied are sort of self righteous.

That isn’t to say that’s bad, I just think it’s interesting. I mean, it’s obviously GOOD that we don’t eat the babies of other males to stop their bloodline from being dominant to ours. It’s good that we kill our food before we eat it.

What does this have to do with my bipolar diagnosis? Probably less than I’m going to say it does. In my mind, there’s a lot of observation of mankind as animals. There’s very often a disconnect from whatever people say it is to be “human.” At times, I go through the motions, but feel very little solidarity with the human race.

I remember the first time I felt that way and could actually form a cohesive thought around the feeling. I was 17, and my friends and I were on a pretty heavy acid trip. It was late, maybe midnight/1am, and I was walking down Broadway in Pennsville, my hometown. My jeans were wet almost up to my knees, as they always seemed to be when we took acid. My teeth would grind. My throat clinched and tingled when I swallowed.

As I walked, arms folded across my chest, I could feel every bend of the hinge joints of my knees. Every bend forcefully back, then kicking forward, almost as if there were spring tension backing it up. Then I started to think about how bizarre it is, to fold the arms over the chest and walk. Their natural position was just too uncomfortable to maintain. But even if it were comfortable, it’s still awkward, as limbs flail back and forth with the momentum of locomotion. And as they flailed, five tiny fingers at the end of each awkward limb.

I thought about how strange we would look to an alien species. Why don’t our knees bend backwards? Why don’t we have two knee joints? None of it really makes sense, other than natural selection millions of years ago that dictated those decisions. And I’m sure plenty of it was the LSD talking, but I felt a disconnect from humanity. I could see that we were awkward animals scurrying about the earth, applying meaning to everything for fear of meaninglessness.

That stuck with me. I always assumed it was the acid, but it stuck. It took more than a decade for that thought to develop into what I feel today. Or at least what I feel when I’m in a down cycle. It also showed me that not matter what I’m feeling, it doesn’t matter and really doesn’t make much sense.

That’s simultaneously terrifying and comforting. This idea that our natural thoughts often don’t make logical sense, and then the follow up idea that it doesn’t matter anyway. None of it really does, and oddly enough, that’s what gives me comfort. The idea that all of this is inconsequential, and over time it is all lost. Even the greatest of mankind becomes bones and dust, and all they did will be undone. It relieves the weight of all the trivial things we claim as important. And you should be terrified of that, and then you should feel freedom to do as you please.

I’m not sure where I’m taking this. I’m fucking ranting, as I always do. There’s too much to express and not enough words. Not enough time. If I wrote all day every day, I still couldn’t express these things the way I want. This obviously isn’t a discussion on bipolar from a manic stance. Look, I’m just working through things as they pop up.

So it’s official! I’m bipolar. And nothing is different.

Uncertainty and Doubt During Periods of Growth

I’m pretty sure I don’t give enough to others. The greatest value I can be is through sharing my experiences. Not as an entrepreneur, or a recovering alcoholic, or artist, but as a human.

When I struggle with my mental health, I draw parallels between myself and others. When I’m face to face with my drinking and I’m trying to silence my ego, I see that the emotions and stages of working it out are the same as any other person’s problems, and that it’s only the circumstances that are different. It’s in that recognition that I can understand we all are dealing with the same exact bullshit.

That’s the reason I feel I don’t do enough. If I’m dealing with the same bullshit you are, and I’m finding my way through, why aren’t I sharing it? I’m not some Buddha or enlightened master, I’m just another guy on his path. But I’m older now, and I’ve faced a lot of challenges, and I’ve had a lot of wise guidance. That puts me in a position to assist you. It’s time I start taking that responsibility seriously.

So many things circle around to uncertainty and doubt. You’d think I’d move past it by now, after all the obstacles I’ve had to overcome. But no, it’s still there, and it still jumps up like a rabid squirrel to startle and scare me away from my goals.

What kind of shit brain would create an entire system meant to hold you down and keep you from accomplishing the things that matter to you? My shit brain. Your shit brain, too, for that matter. Everyone’s shit brain is out to get them.

We can’t get mad at self doubt. We CAN, but there’s no reason to. That’ll just stress you out more. Self doubt is just a safety precaution. It’s when your brain is playing out scenarios and sees something in the possible future that could cause you pain and discomfort. When it sees that, it wants to dissuade you from trying, as a means of protecting you.

Don’t be mad at your brain. Instead, just stop doing what the brain says, and start listening to the mind. Oh, is that confusing? It’s simple, really. The brain is a thing, a physical object with a series of complex chemical processes, guiding you through existence. But it’s autopilot. When you only listen to feelings, instinct, gut reaction, knee jerk impulse, you’re acting out the suggestions your brain is making through those complex chemical processes. You can’t control what the brain is doing.

Mind, on the other hand, is less tangible. It’s decision making. It’s reason /6 weed auu7 Zaw and logic. It’s calculating and measuring. It’s deeper awareness of self, and an understanding of how we have a relationship with the brain, even though the mind is housed within it.

I know, it’s fucking weird. The idea of two people, two entities existing within you. That’s really what it’s like, though, once you learn that emotional response doesn’t need to dictate actions. Our emotions have little to do with reason. In fact, they process in completely different areas of the brain and barely communicate.

Sometimes emotions disguise themselves as reason and logic. It can make it really hard to distinguish if you’re making the right decisions, or if you’re just reacting out of fear. It’s an ongoing struggle that we have to learn to recognize when we decide our course of action.

I know I’ve been dealing with it a lot lately. Check out the video below where I talk about it a little more in depth.

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It doesn’t matter how hard I work, I always think I should work harder. I know I shouldn’t have to prove anything to anyone, but I still try my damnedest, all the time.

Or am I just writing that to sound cool? Like some sort of badass terminator motherfucker that never sleeps and stays on the hunt. I fuck off on my phone all the time. I take naps. I spend an inordinate amount of time looking up 80’s bands that come on the radio to see where they are now. Did you know the singer from Midnight Oil became a politician who fought for the environment and aboriginal rights in Australia?

ADD as a motherfuck.

You measure and weigh. You review and calculate. Am I being productive or wasting time? Can wasting time become productive? I constantly try to turn hobbies into money. Is that entrepreneurial? Is that greed?

What are those little monsters in Dungeons & Dragons that are just big brains with legs? Intellect devourers? I think that’s me. I’m feeding on what I do and converting it to knowledge, and disseminating it into my life; creating a system where each skill set I hone improves the others.

Intellect devourer

Is that just what people are supposed to do? Am I obsessed with being the best? At what point is complacency an acceptable thing? I feel like that answer is never. Never settle for less than my ability. And if my ability isn’t capable of achieving my goal, then get better.

Take tattooing as an example. I’m in the process of ripping myself apart because I am not at the top. I am not the best in my region or even my style, and I can’t accept that. If you tattoo and you’re not at least subconsciously trying to slaughter your competition, you’re not going to win. That’s me competing with myself.

A few 2020 tattoos

Since I can’t accept not being the best at tattooing (whatever the fuck that means) I’m always trying to do my best, and constantly making other art to help improve my skills. Last year, I counted over 200 pieces of art. That might be fuckin crazy, but I look at it as not enough. Again, I’m in competition with myself.

Did you know Pablo Picasso made nearly 150,000 pieces of art? That’s an insane number, even for a master like Picasso. I want to be that prolific. Maybe it goes back to my own issues with perfectionism, and my underlying desire to be loved and accepted for who I am. I try to stay conscious of that shit.

Just a little art from 2019

I try to view things from every angle I can. everything is a learning opportunity, and a chance to make some money. My life is situated around a keystone goal; the one goal that holds the others together. Everything I do needs to point toward the keystone. For me, that’s safety and comfort for myself and my family. Everything I do has to point in that direction, and reflect those values.

When I started buying and selling things, it was fun, and sort of a side hobby kind of thing. Since then, it’s taken on its own life, guiding my actions and how they can create growth and success in this endeavor. I haven’t stepped back or calmed down with it because it has the ability to push me toward my keystone. I’m gaining knowledge, I’m gaining income, and I’m gaining diverse avenues to care for my family.

I work hard because it’s what I have to do. It steadies me. It makes me feel like I’m serving a purpose. It helps keep me sober. Hard work saves me from my worst instincts, which underlie my positive actions. I do these things because if I don’t, I will do other things that are much more dangerous and damaging to myself and those around me.

It’s good to stay aware.