What Makes Life Feel Worth Living

“What Makes Life Feel Worth Living.” 6/16/24. Acrylic paint. 24×24″.

This painting was essentially the product of my second month clean and single. To be fully honest, I was still pretty hung up on codependency issues and  the fact that, for once, I didn’t have a girlfriend. I found myself experiencing kind a low-grade depression a lot of days, not really wanting to get out of bed. In my head, I kept thinking that finding a new girlfriend was the answer to all my problems but I knew that, really, that would just be a way to distract myself from my problems. In any case, I was too embarrassed to make a painting about that immediately following one about my ex. I pushed myself to really try to get at something deeper in my journal writing. It took a couple weeks and quite a few attempts before I felt like I got at anything remotely meaningful. That’s what’s written across this canvas (in the upper left and just to the left of the very bottom center).

I struggle a lot with meaning and purpose. “Does anything matter?” “What’s the point of doing anything?” “The world’s a mess,” “I’m a mess,” “is anybody really happy?” I don’t know the answers to those questions but – as long as I’m gonna not-kill-myself and keep living – I’ve gotta try. It’s really hard sometimes. I’m not alone but I feel like I am a lot of the time. One person can really make a difference in that. Whether it’s A GIRL PAYING ATTENTION TO ME or someone deciding to GIVE ME MONEY (for my artwork).

When I tell people about my first month clean and making art again, it’s a success story, mostly on account of the commissions I got from Rick, a stranger walking down the sidewalk. But because I was painting outside and because he stopped to talk to me and took an interest, it’s given me concrete reasons to keep painting and writing. Pretty random, very easily could have NOT happened.

It’s genuinely INCREDIBLE when someone tells me how much my art means to them (and I don’t wanna discount that) but when they PUT THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR MOUTH IS, it’s crazy validating in a way that’s rivaled only by A HOT GIRL WANTING TO FUCK (or date) ME. (Which is totally unrelated and indicates just how broken I am but that’s an issue for other days). It says that what I’m doing has actual value worthy of supporting human life – MY life. That hard validation can bolster my spirit against any/all of the negative feelings I have that could otherwise overtake me.

Even when everything else is wrong, one well-timed “yes” can make all the difference. A thousand rejections are nothing against a few key “yeses.”

These things are small and inconsequential in a world that’s so random and meaningless but when nothing matters, we choose what matters and I choose what makes my life feel worth living.

Taking a chance is worthwhile. Saying “yes” to someone is meaningful. Helping another person, offering encouragement, supporting an artist (ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S ME). These are things that count. We never know what small act might be HUGELY CONSEQUENTIAL for someone else.

I still don’t know if I’m going to be able to revive my art career and make a living like I was, but it’s working out so far thanks to just a few people and a few key moments and decisions. It reminds me of the last lyric from one of my favorite songs: “just one good thing, that’s all – sometimes that’s all it takes.”

I lined up a handful of commissions right out of the gate upon getting clean: paintings that I had no idea what they’d be but that were pre-paid-for before I even started them. Knowing that a painting is already sold while I’m working on it is really motivating. It gives me a push to get to work. That’s over (at least as of this moment; no one has pre-purchased my next painting). That makes me a little nervous but it’s also how most artists operate – not to mention the only way I’ll ever be able to amass enough paintings to ever have another exhibit. I’m on my own for the first time in a while and need to start hustling again – whether that’s going out on the street to paint in public while slinging prints or putting more effort and thought into my social media. Probably both. It used to come so easily to me but now it seems almost impossible – though much less so than it did even a month ago. One of the main reasons I stayed on drugs so long was because it was an excuse not to do anything else. I’m so afraid of trying and failing. But I’ve got to try. I’ve gotta put myself out there. And hopefully I’ll get the “yeses” I need to keep going.

I’m in danger of rambling now. I wanna say something about how those “yeses” are less-than-ideal external validation in the same way that female attention is, but that’s a subject for another time. The spirit of this painting was about the positive feelings that come making something meaningful that resonates with another person and the positive consequences of that other person’s response. Not everything needs to be overanalyzed. Nothing is perfect but sometimes little things spark joy and pride and feel an awful lot like fulfillment – even if only for a moment. And sometimes that’s enough.

The song quoted in my painting (on the little blue guy’s black t-shirt): “Precious on the Edge” by Drunken Boat

This painting has already been sold but limited edition 12×12″ signed, hand-numbered prints are available for purchase WHILE SUPPLIES LAST.

Say somethin'.