Hope and self-loathing

28 10 2013

I’ve posted some of my visual artwork here, but not too much. It’s time to post more. I’ve gotten back into drawing and painting in a major way recently, and it’s mostly a good thing. Maybe entirely a good thing.

There are water marks on these because I don’t want anyone to steal them. They’re also not incredibly in focus. I hope that doesn’t detract from your viewing too much. Thumbnails are below; click on each to see a full-size image.

This was one of my first (recent) efforts. It’s how I’ve been feeling about feelings/emotions lately.

Feelings

Feelings

The next two go together.

The first is how I feel so often, but I also feel like I need to put on a cheery, rainbow face and pretend that everything is just fine. I mean, really, why wouldn’t it be? The colors start out and end up straight, but bend into a rainbow in the middle on purpose. The straight, harsh lines of my life and mind often have to contort themselves into a rainbow to make myself presentable to the world.

The second is what I hear other people telling me about my life or their own, but it’s behind a thick screen of greenish, brownish, greyish gunk and I can’t access or feel it.

Life is Too...

Life is Too…

Ain't Life Grand?

Ain’t Life Grand?

Sometimes, I feel like this (piece not finished yet; maybe I’ll re-post when I’m done with it):

Hope

Hope

 

But, often, I feel full of this:

Self-loathing

Self-loathing

I adore this last one! I thought I might feel worse putting my thoughts down on paper in living color this way, but I actually feel better having drawn out those little furry monsters of self-loathing. It helps to externalize it. It is this thing that I feel; not something inherently a part of me that can’t be put down on paper because it’s so essential to my self. I was also able to hear the actual voices of various people in the little speaking bubbles that I put in there. Some are voices that seem to come from inside my own head, but others are things that I’ve heard others say about me or others and that (apparently) made a deep impression.

Future pieces may include:

  • “Desperation” (that’s what I wanted to do right after I finished “Hope,” but “Self-Loathing” reared its ugly head instead!)
  • “Anger”
  • “Failure”

I would also love to do some with explicitly Jewish content. The phrase “אִם אָמַרְתִּי מָטָה רַגְלִי חַסְדְּךָ ה’ יִסְעָדֵנִי” from Psalms 94:18 has been going through my head for some months now. (My translation: “If I say, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your mercy, God, will support me.”)





Morning ritual

25 03 2010
morning ritual

Morning Ritual

Since I posted my snow photos, I’ve been more interested in sharing some of my visual artwork.

In that vein, here is my first offering. I dumped my morning pharmaceuticals out on the Talmud that I was studying, since it was easier to take them that way, rather than straight out of the little compartment in my pill box. When I looked down at them, I thought it was striking. The way the words get distorted by the fish oil capsule; the anti-depressants splayed out randomly across the words “חשוב” (“important”) and “חמור” (which can mean “serious,” although in this case, I think it means “donkey”) and “לא מצי” (“not found”).

I like this image too much to watermark it. I hope that people respect that and don’t claim it as their own.

Wishing all of my readers a happy, healthy, and especially liberating Passover, and hoping that I get to post some of my thoughts on that holiday either before or during it.





“They shall be as white as snow.”

10 02 2010

I have long wished for a “reset” button. Something simple that I could press to start my life, or perhaps only this current period of depression, over. Something that would allow me to fall asleep one way–as my current self–and wake up in the morning either as someone different, or as the same person but with more resolve to pull myself together. Or, if not quite pull myself together, at least let go of yesterday’s failures and just start afresh. Say all you want about it “not being my fault,” lay all the blame in the world squarely on the head of a biologically-determined disease over which I have no control, but I still walk around with leaden guilt wrapped firmly around my ankles, dragged down by yesterday’s inability to get out of bed, or by last night’s episode of binge eating.

Instead of a “reset” button, I seem to have a “relapse” button, wherein I feel like I am doing better (whee! life has meaning! I am being productive! I am taking good care of myself!) and then, I wake up one morning a few days later, and, once again, I am not. I feel like I can’t get my bearings, despite trying my hardest. (Except for the days when I give up before I even get started.) It is frustrating, to say the least.

I have been hoping that this current snowstorm might function as such a “reset” button, much in the way that I sometimes hope that a weekend, a new month, a Jewish holiday, or an extended vacation will somehow function as a “reset” button, to make okay all that is not. But there is just something about snow, isn’t there? The way that it covers everything, and makes thing appear to be what they are not. The way that it envelopes the world, softening its hard edges. The way that it creates a sort of blank slate, a new world to mold and shape according to our wishes, and then a reborn world when it finally melts. There is something pure about it, and purifying.

It’s not just me. See Isaiah 1:18:

יח לְכוּ-נָא וְנִוָּכְחָה, יֹאמַר יְהוָה; אִם-יִהְיוּ חֲטָאֵיכֶם כַּשָּׁנִים כַּשֶּׁלֶג יַלְבִּינוּ, אִם-יַאְדִּימוּ כַתּוֹלָע כַּצֶּמֶר יִהְיוּ. 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

I try not to think about my depression as a sin, because that somehow implies that I have free will to exercise over it, whereas I am fairly sure that “free will” and “depression” overlap very little.

Nonetheless, depression and sin share enough that a metaphor that works for one may very well work for the other. Like a sin, depression is something about myself that I do not like, and it causes me to act in ways that I regret, and it is difficult to shake off. Like sin, depression sometimes feels like a crimson stain that resists all of the oxygen-enriched stain removers I apply to it, as well as the outright toxic bleach with which I scrub at it. Like a red stain, it bleeds through into so many areas of my life.

What would my “sin” of depression being “as white as snow” feel like? What would my life look like after the “reset” button of a winter storm had been pressed?

It would be fresh and clean.

It would be cold and invigorating.

It would obscure the dirt in the street below.

It would soften some of the differences between us, the way our winter coats cover us and make us all just people.

It would be alert.

It would be full of beauty.

It would contain the variation and individuality of the ever-unique snowflake.

It would help us overlook people’s imperfections in light of the sheer miraculousness of their existence.

It would create a sense of wonder in the world, and promote laughter and frolic.

It would make the ordinary seem extraordinary.

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[In unrelated news, Borei Hoshech now has a Facebook “page” as well as a Facebook “profile.” If you would like to become a “fan” of the “page,” click here! I will let people know about new posts through the page, and will also be less discriminatory against my actual, real-life friends in allowing people to become my fans.]

P.S. That last photo is a standard-issue New York City Parks Department trash can.