Pieces of Chalk

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October 6th 2011
Published: June 26th 2017
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Geo: 40.7439, -74.0328

Though warm and comfy in the back of my truck in a Hoboken parking garage, I woke under a thick fog of sadness this morning. Maybe it's just a little end-of-trip anxiety coming out as sadness, or maybe it's just sadness that this part of the trip is near complete. I've been in this same mindset a number of times in the past, but I feel like I either want to be completely alone, or surrounded by community and loved ones, yet I find myself somewhere in the middle, in limbo. And the part of me that craves that closeness isn't sure where to find that, where to start that. My friend Ian is very much like me - he loves camping and climbing and skiing and being outdoors, but he is also a computer programmer and is stuck in a crappy job. Fairly often I will get a message from him that he is having a WTFAIDWML moment (What The Fuck Am I Doing With My Life). And here I am, at the envy of pretty much every person I know, living the dream, complete and unadulterated freedom, on the verge of my very own WTFAIDWML moment.

Maybe I am just scared of the power I have. Not like any authoritative or egotistical power, but just the power to be able to choose whatever I want. How many people ever get to do that? How many people ever give themselves the opportunity to do that? Here I am, big ol fuckin empty slate in front of me, an arsenal of chalk pieces ready to sketch and design, and I have no idea what color to begin with, where to make the first mark. Yellow, blue, pink, white... circle, point, line, shade, squiggle... it's not going to draw itself, but where do I start? Maybe there are still some old lines and marks that need to be further erased, some stubborn chalk dust that needs to be wiped clean, and that is why I cannot begin. There is still shit to clean off or undo. Then again, is it really possible to have a completely blank slate? No marks, no scrapes, no dust, no faint shadows or remnants of everything that had existed before? To think that would be foolish! For better or worse... no, only for better - because it has made me who I am - my slate, your slate, reveals remnants and reminders of everything I have ever sketched out for myself, and of everything that has ever been sketched out for me. Some of those sketches are ugly, they are violent, they are crude, some were done in haste or hatred, others in spite or in ignorance, but they are my sketches nonetheless, and what are we other than an ever-changing manifestation of the sketches collected and created throughout our lives?

So maybe my slate isn't empty. It's not fresh. It's not entirely clean or pretty. In fact, it's probably quite messy. Maybe the slate has always been right in front of me and all that has changed is that I now have possession of the chalk again. I suppose we always have complete access to our slates whenever we want, but we relinquish control of the chalk. We give it to our work. We give it to our lovers. We give our chalk to untrue friends, to oppressive family, to the images, ideas, and ideals portrayed as desirable and worthy by our fucked up society and our fucked up culture (not that it is all fucked up, but the fucked up parts seem to shout a lot louder). We hand the chalk to the expectations that all of these things have for us. We give the chalk to the roles that we are supposed to fulfill, the roles that we are expected to live, even when that role may not truly be ours to bear. The chalk lies in the hands of our pocketbooks and our credit cards, to a white-picket fence and a new shiny car, in the hands of politics, the hands of "progress", the hands of religion... What sticky, greedy, filthy hands.

I'm not afraid of my slate. I love it. I can't wait to design and draw and let the chalk scribble and shade and dance and create the most brilliant and beautiful masterpiece!

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

It's time to make some fuckin art.


19th October 2011

Life is not art. It's a quilt. The front may be pretty, but the back where all the stiching and mending to hold it all together is quite chaotic. Learn to enjoy the design on the front. It was made by the chaos putting it together.
19th October 2011

Okay. Life IS art since a quilt IS art. Chalk, thread, whatever - it all creates the person you are. Wrap yourself up with your history and gallop forward!

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