Original Sin is getting closer each day, but there’s still a pile of artwork and editing to do. A few snippets have snuck their way into Daily Bread, and my skill working with ink and a crow quill pen are rapidly improving, despite my initial fears of being a total fucking hack. I still am a hack, don’t get me wrong, but no longer a “total fucking hack.”
Two more illustrations have been completed today, but the realization I haven’t put out a blog post in a while just hit, so I’m taking a break for a few hours to share an unexpected story.
Maybe the best way to start is with some typical philosophic diatribe…
(lost in the unpublished archives, September 3, 2019, the pre-virus days)
I’m beginning to realize competency is a bit of a curse. When you demonstrate quality work, people usually end up asking you to do more of it. That’s fine and dandy if you’re engaged in something you love, but if you happen to be trying to earn a few extra travel bucks in, oh let’s say a shitty kitchen or something, demonstrating quality work doesn’t reward you with extra time off. If you’re responsible, reliable, trustworthy, and personable (throw in good-looking too), employers seem to want you around as much as possible. Go figure…
I don’t entirely know what happened to the work ethic of kids today, but it’s pretty fucking appalling. Half-assed work, missed shifts, and a complete lack of common sense seems to be the norm for our modern youth.
I understand slave-work better than anyone, and I get that a minimum-wage salary ain’t a great incentive to bust your ass, but what the fuck happened to a little bit of personal pride in the work you’ve been contracted to do? Is it so tough to show up for a shift without smoking 3 joints 10-minutes before walking into the building? Is it possible to work 5 hours consecutively without bitching about how exhausted you are? Is there the slightest fucking chance of doing something productive without being asked or told to do so?
Perhaps I’m a bit pissy ’cause five 12-hour shifts in a row have claimed far too much of my free time to get a little writing done, or even put out a consistent Daily Bread. The bitching’s unwarranted, of course, because no one put a gun to my head to take the job. Truthfully, I volunteered for the extra shifts to give my bosses a chance to finish their move and settle into their new place in town.
So why did I bother whining about any of this?
I dunno. I had nothin’ pressin’ to write about, but I remembered a quote from Picasso:
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.
So I’m typing away. And upon writing that quote, a notable thing just came to mind…
The 12-hour days are a joke. I can do them effectively on pretty much zero sleep and nothing in my belly — but not indefinitely, and not without affecting my naturally pleasant (and charming) demeanour. In the restaurant environment, irritability begins to rear its ugly head the thinner I stretch myself. Halfway through day 5 of my slave-marathon, when the building filled with a parade of burger-eatin’ douchebags, and I was alone to deal with the madness, it wasn’t long before full-blown survival mode kicked in.
So what exactly is survival mode?
It’s somewhat unfair to compare cooking a grillful of steaks to something like eating your dead buddy’s ass to stay alive after your plane crashed horribly into a mountain top, but, nonetheless, a connection exists. And it’s a simple one:
Be fully present in the moment.
To get through a seemingly impossible situation, a few truths need be realized:
Panic gets you nowhere.
Extrapolating a hopeless future serves no purpose.
Anger and outrage cloud your thinking.
The only viable option is to focus your mind on the immediate task at hand, and push all the crippling emotional stress of uncontrollable future events as far away as possible.
If you find light at the tunnel’s end of whatever ordeal you’ve just endured, you might come to an important realization: life is a series of moments. And the way we perceive each moment will come to define our lives.
A “good” day is just a mental tally of instances that outweigh “bad” ones. But, looking back on them, we realize our definitions were all based on our chosen perception of an endless present.
If we can remember that, the past becomes much less cumbersome, and the future a lot less daunting. In fact, we may even realize neither truly exists, and all the shit we’re incessantly stressed over never unfolds as badly as our negatively-charged brains predict.
I’ll bet no New Age guru has ever told you to stop sleeping and take on high-stress work as road to personal enlightenment. Hell no. They encourage you to quash all your “negative” energy, and think perpetually happy thoughts, no matter what the situation may be.
An interesting strategy, but an ineffective one, as bottled up emotions have no avenue of expression. Trying to think perpetually happy thoughts will probably end up leaving you pissed off and stressed out when your diligence falters, making you more even more enraged than before you began happy happy mode.
In a strange twist, I’ve learned you can actually be stuck in a moment you hate, and realize you’re having a lot of fun hating the situation.
Today was a reminder to stop overthinking shit as it happens, and just roll with it. To stop worrying about fantasies of a “better” tomorrow. To breathe in the fresh air, and soak up whatever rain or sunshine appears.
You won’t change the storm clouds by being pissed off at them, but you don’t have to pretend that they make you happy while they rain on your picnic.
The sooner we realize our emotions don’t control the external world, the quicker we’ll learn it isn’t the world we need to control, but thoughts that don’t serve us. We either feed ’em, or let them starve.
We can easily look back at some of the shitty moments that happened in our lives and laugh at them, so why not engage in the practice as they occur?
All we ever have is right here, right now, so suck it up, and learn to love it, even when you feel the need to beat the shit out of a puppy.