Meditations and Art from the bottom …
Back when I was doing these posters by hand I was so broke. I’d given up my normal 9-5 designing mobile applications and websites to do political art and boy were things tight. This area you see in the video was a second apartment I had been squatting in. Why was I squatting in it? Because it was either that or deal with the meth heads who knew it was empty and squatted in it. They’d let their dogs shit all over the carpet. I swear the first time I walked in the place I felt fleas jumping all over my legs. It was sick. It took days to rip out the carpet only to find this beautiful wood floor hiding underneath I was five months behind on the rent on my one bedroom downstairs, I wasn’t sure what was going to be shut off first, the gas, the lights, the internet, was I going to be evicted? The IRS was after me for seven years not filing, the State Tax Francise Board took out what little money I had in the bank. I’d wake up in fright wondering what was going to come down on me later that day. My meals consisted of whatever McDonalds had on their dollar menu and trust me I couldn’t afford more than one item off it.
The point of this story is not to go on about how broke I was and If you were wondering why I didn’t just get a normal job well … I had a normal job for a looooonnngggg time and forgive me but I was over it. It wasn’t like I was out hussling chicks or trying to go on dates. At my age I figured I’d die broke and alone and I was as fine as I could be with that, so why not just do what I wanted for a change. If I was willing to go through the pain then so be it. Lord knows I went about a month without hot water during the winter of that year and baby let me tell you, strange things start happening to your skin in the winter when you shower only with cold water. You get this waxy coating. And then there’s the dishes. Cold water sucks for washing dishes. But again that’s not the point of this story.
I’d had good years, I’d had bad. I’d learned that making money isn’t the end all, be all. You can feel completely soulless with money in the bank. When you have a good paying job it’s easy to forget so many people around you aren’t doing as well. Lord knows being broke is hard, I don’t need to tell anyone that. But there was one thing I learned along the way, … things can change. They can always get worse, but so long as you keep plugging in things can also get better. I started to use whatever situation I was in as a mediation. I knew I wouldn’t be broke forever because I knew I wasn’t afraid to work. So I used this most broke of moments to embrace being down and out. Find happiness at the bottom. Even better try to find it no matter what my circumstances were. If I were alone find peace, if I was with someone find happiness, if I had or didn’t have money in the bank find peace. Finding peace with nothing was a good start because I’d already found out that having THINGS wasn’t the answer.
So there I was hungry and for the first time in my life I had no idea where my next meal was going to come from. So I told myself, ‘I have paper, I have paint, glue, and I have time. Find sustenance in your art. Just start creating’ and I did. Before I knew it I forgot that I was hungry, I’d have 20 or so posters done and lo-and-behold a paying project would knock on my door.
And believe it or not when things got REALLY HARD instead of throwing a pity party I asked myself, “what could I do for someone else who’s in more need than I?” I’m not going to tell you that it will work for you but it worked for me 100% of the time. Good things came from my doing good for others.
Since then I’ve made a couple of dollars and gotten some attention from the press. I long ago learned that having success for a guy like me can sometimes be all the reason I need to self destruct. I honestly believe my exercise or meditations at the bottom helped me to not do that this time around. There have been some bumps along the way but hey man, that’s life.