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Thursday, July 9, 2015

This is not a book review Pt. 1

I get pretty self-conscious about having a blog. I don't tell a lot of people about it in real life, and when someone else brings it up it makes me uncomfortable. There's something in society that tells us that we shouldn't put ourselves out there unless our output is on par with the very best that exist, and if we don't live up to that standard, why are we trying? Every day someone writes a new article about how pathetic it is that people use the internet to post selfies, or pictures of their dinner, or tell their story. Don't they know that nobody is listening?

Well, I love selfies. I love pictures of babies. And cats. And your hike, or your recipe. I like seeing happy couples who I don't know getting married, especially the ones who have been waiting for years to have that privilege. I like seeing the crazy nonsense that bleeds through onto my Facebook feed of your weird cousin or high school friend who thinks that Coca Cola is shepherding in a new era of Socialism. I like thinking that to someone else I'm the weird cousin. Please. Don't stop. If social media is an I.V. drip of the minutia of human life I say load me up.

Yesterday at the art museum they were hosting something called an "art buffet." It was a table of art supplies and a bunch of mirrors. Make a self-portrait, they said. My kids immediately sat down and began creating. My youngest made a collage, the next oldest created a figurine out of popsicle sticks and fabric, and my oldest drew himself. Bored, I sat down and looked in the mirror and idly sketched my humble visage. I was reminded how much I love to draw. When I finished, I looked at the result, which was terrible, and laughed, and threw it in the garbage. The pleasure I got from the drawing process has stuck with me, though.

When we're kids, we're given crayons and clay and colored pencils and just reams of blank paper full of possibilities. Everything we do is interesting, at least to our parents and teachers, because they're looking at this little kid growing up and just analyzing everything they do. We watch our kids grow through their drawings and handwriting and creations. At some point, though, we stop. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an artist because I liked to draw. By high school it became apparent that whatever it was that an artist had in them, I didn't have. I watched art teachers get bored with me, quickly moving on to their star students. The ones who got it. Did I change career choices, but continue to do something that had up to that point brought me joy and catharsis? No. I just quit drawing.

Now. Have I stopped growing? Has my mind stopped developing and making new connections? No. Why is it that at a certain age we push out someone's creative spirit because what they create isn't world class? Isn't it still interesting to track someone's personal growth through the art they create? Maybe. I don't know. Who cares, sometimes.

Lately in church my kids have been asking me to draw Pokemons for them to color. Church is boring, so drawing has become a very pleasant way to pass the time. One of my kids presses against me and watches intensely as I sketch out some atrocious pocket monster. And I remember, again, that hey, I love to draw. I quit because I wasn't good enough for my teachers, but my kids are more important critics than they will ever be (I tell myself).

Listen. I get pleasure from writing a blog. When I read old entries I know that every one isn't great. I don't write think-pieces that will ever go viral. I'll never make any money. You will not find whatever the next dadbod-level new big thing on here. But as mediocre as the output, as banal the subject matter, you can hopefully see one thing: I am having fun. When a new post goes up, don't think of it as my addition to the mass of creations known collectively as art. Think of it as the equivalent of a picture of me wakeboarding or snowboarding or riding a unicycle. This is not creation on a professional level. This is just a guy fiddling around on the internet just like we're all doing.

If you read it, I appreciate that. A whole lot. I keep pretty close track of how many hits I get on the blog and how long people stick around. I love to see that old posts keep getting more views, like people read one entry and go back and read a bunch of the old ones. I like getting comments. But most of all I just like writing them.