John Prine, a song writer and low-key wise man wrote and sings one of my favorite songs (vying in my head for first place with Sound System by Operation Ivy): “That’s the Way that the World Goes ‘Round”. Prine imparts to those who are ready to hear, “That’s the way that the world goes ’round / You’re up one day and the next you’re down / It’s a half an inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown / That’s the way that the world goes ’round”.
When I was younger and believed that the labels headshrinkers applied to me served some function, this song felt like the theme music for my bipolar disorder diagnosis. The doc told me I didn’t have it bad, and luckily I ended up with the kind that manifests its “highs” as anger and irritability. Well, I’m not going to blame a mental “illness” for my problems—truth is I am just not handling business in my precious, boney gourd. Labor is the medicine.
Life is ebb and flow—whether it be the ocean, your personal energy, your good feelings, or your work. I’m not preaching—y’all know this—it’s ubiquitous: ebb and flow, give and receive, create and destroy, on and on in every aspect of existence that I can think of. I endure periodic low times when I find it difficult to work, to be creative, hell even to shower sometimes. I’m generally as pleasant as Dr. Satan during these spells—I feel coated from the inside out with a suffocating, foamy slime of apathy. I feel bad for feeling like this because I am grateful for the numerous blessings I have. What gives me the right to even frown when my home isn’t being bombed by my own government (yet), and my children don’t have to work downwind of a mountain of poisonous industrial waste? Regardless, I feel downright bad—feelings that used to lead to extremely self-destructive behavior before I became a dad.
Just like John Prine states (in accordance with the Tao): sometimes, man, you’re up, and sometimes you’re not. It’s simple, I realize, but it’s the simple stuff I tend to have the most problems with. Someone once told me to be grateful during the good times, and graceful during the bad ones. I don’t need to hold on to my emotions and keep lingering in darkness, and I’m getting better with practice. My son—he’s had a stroke, cancer, brain surgery, infantile spasms, and all before his third birthday. In return he’s got nothing but smiles for the world, and kind words for all (except when scrapping with his brother). I’m the parent, and I am teaching him some stuff, but I swear to Lovecraft he’s teaching me more than ten gurus could. For instance, I drew a dragon wearing a Hawaiian shirt to his specifications and had a GD breakthrough. It’s hard to stay nihilistic when you’re drawing shit like that (and he chose the details as carefully as if we were going to build the sucker next to the Ritz.) Thanks, Sam. I hope any readers who made it this far found something useful amidst this self-indulgence. Maybe you should’ve stopped at the dragon.