|Panel from Graffiti graphic novel|
I found myself vividly remembering being happier, but feeling not so much "happy" right now.
Life was generally okay, and I had many happy moments -- but what I was feeling was a sense of loss of a general happiness I had gotten used to being in, especially once having moved to Tennessee.
So I had to reconstruct just when I had felt that super-happyness I was remembering, and when possibly it was I managed to get off track ...
It took talking with my very patient husband, a good observation from my Mom, a few patient friends who listened and encouraged, and reading/listening to what several other friends were saying about their own paths. Then I went through a bunch of old notebooks of mine to rediscover what I had neglected to do ...
I had forgotten to fully be myself.
Yeah, but that's a silly thing to say, right? What does that even mean? How can a person forget how to do be themselves? You are always yourself, after all. You live in your skin! And I was already super doing things I just love! I teach during the school year, and love that -- and the kids! They're so great and so much fun! I also volunteer a lot and read at church, for example, and I love that, too! I had even joined the church choir which I had been longing to do (if I had a whole other lifetime to live I would totally be a musician.)
But I had forgotten what it was like to prioritize and put my comics work first. It's easy to fall into a pattern of doing what is more easily fulfilled and seems very, very, very important to do, over something that is a key to joy and yet seems so very solitary, takes a whole lot more work and focus and well, is maybe just a wee little selfish because of the sheer fun it is to do.
But yeah. I'd forgotten to fully be myself, because I'd misplaced my center of making comics.
After all, it seems so self-centered, so internal to feel "out of sorts" when I'm not drawing comics.
As I've grown older the lost feelings have become more blatant, more nagging, more overwhelming when I get off track. It's not good. And you'd think I'd have figured that out by now, right? I'd have paid attention to the other half dozen off-kilter experiences I've gone through and maybe finally written myself a huge post-it note:
"Shut up and draw!"
Well, I finally did today. It's on the edge of my drafting table. And I'm posting it here to help me remind myself.