In the last year, I learned to use art as a tool for emotional health. Since I’ve been out of treatment, I’ve been doing very well in that area. One area in which my counselor insists I need improvement is my social health.
One day, I accidentally went out to lunch with a group of people. I crept around until I found the restaurant’s stock of crayons and paper. I didn’t have anything in mind when I started (other than removing myself from the world around me so I wouldn’t have to interact awkwardly with other human beings) so I just chose a color that appealed to me and drew some shapes that I liked. At some point, I decided what the shapes were, added to them to form the image of a kid blowing a bubble, and then captioned it with the first thing that came to mind.
This little cartoon has no unique significance to me, but – like a lot of what I do – it’s evidence of how far I’ve come. Granted, one could suggest that – ideally – I wouldn’t feel the need to escape reality at all, but I think that drawing is a big step up from shooting heroin. And – while I can see some validity to the opposing point of view – I don’t think that social interaction is all that much more important than doing something that helps me feel productive and (in a very real sense) valuable.
For years, I’d wake up with a sigh, as I contemplated another day of being alive and – even worse – being me. Sometimes I create things that have deep meaning to me. Other times, I just draw little cartoons that I think are cute or clever and are little more than they appear. Both of these kinds of art are important because both are pieces of what makes me happy to be living and breathing as Sam North. A lot of people could do what I do, but a lot of people don’t. For whatever reason, I do – and that’s something I’ve been rewarded for in innumerable ways every day. What I once considered a terrible fate, I’m now incredibly grateful for. I’m pretty excited about being me. [written 5/29/13]
Today, I went to Art Walk, a monthly event in downtown Jacksonville. People set up tables and sell art and other stuff they’ve made. Within minutes of arriving, a kid asked if he could give me a flier for a record store. I told him I’d trade him and handed him one of mine. And then we realized who we were. It was Josh from Dead Tank, one of the two kids in the area that I (met ten million years ago and) decided to email last month to find out about DIY shows/spaces in the area. Pretty excellent chance encounter.
From there, I just kind of poked around, scoping things out. (I sent in an application to be a participant, but it wasn’t in time for this month’s Art Walk). I met and talked to a few people though, awkwardly handed some strangers cartoons/fliers, and… then I rode home.