Show Your Heart

“What am I in the eyes of most people – a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person – somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then – even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.”

-Vincent Van Gogh

LOVING VINCENT just came to the Cinema. I’ve been excited for this film simply because I wanted to see a film in which every frame was a different painting – literally – and I’ve been seeing promos for this film for several years, now, and the excitement has just been growing. I didn’t, however, think that the above quote would strike such a chord within my soul.

I have a really hard time feeling like a person. I feel that everything I do doesn’t matter in the long run, and that even if I do something really great, that won’t make me any more secure in my future, or more liked by people. To me, the sum of my accomplishments is just that – people like the things I do, but they don’t like me.

I know this is not true. But I feel it is true.

Every day I live the life of a nonentity. I cannot believe that my friends do anything more than put up with me. I cannot believe that my presence is actually wanted in a social setting, which is probably why I try to host so many damn parties – I want to prove to myself that people will actually show up. I’m challenging myself, saying, stop it, Sam. People care about you. But I will never believe that.

I never believe it, and yet I have to keep living life like I do, because I don’t know what will happen if I allow that disbelief to grow in me. I don’t want to think about the person I will become if I let those thoughts consume me. I already think I’m constantly being put up with, but imagine if I started acting that way? I would go off the rails.

But I try to be honest. I don’t want myself to be a lie, to exude false confidence. That’s why I write so many damn vulnerable things in this blog, because I feel like I might never say these things out loud, so I’ve got to say them somewhere. People don’t want to be stuck in a conversation in which you vent to them about yourself; but if someone clicks on a link that leads to that venting in a blog post, that’s not my fault.

And so I live under this premise: even if it is true that I’m a nonentity (which I’m not. I’m not. I’m not.), I will strive to paint my heart on this canvas called life, and show what is in my heart. In my honesty, I find hope, not in being liked, but in being all that I could ever be. I can’t ask much more than that of the world, to let me be me.

That’s where my philosophy falls from Vincent’s. I don’t have any sort of calmness within me. I have music in me, but it is not harmonious. It’s a distortion of every little thing that happens, a symphony of second guesses.

I think when we find ourselves in a world we didn’t ask to be in – and by that, I mean, a mental world, not the actual physical world – we do our best to create coping mechanisms. I have a few. The first is to support those around me that I love. Seeing contentedness in others makes me content. I will give my energy to those around me, because maybe their happiness, their serenity, will leak over into mine.

The second coping mechanism is that I close myself off. I do this because I feel that people would be better off not having to worry about me, or be inconvenienced by me. I suppose we are trained to do this, in society. What a damaging thing.

I am not an inconvenience. I am not an inconvenience. I am not an inconvenience. I need to learn to share my thoughts, my anxieties, and not bottle them up inside, because the more I experience them outside of me, maybe the more they will stay outside of me. And I am important enough to take that seriously.

In the past couple of years, my mind has tried to convince itself that the person I am, the essence of me, is unfortunate. Something to pity, to hold at arm’s length. That’s not logic talking. It’s just me being unable to navigate me. And it’s really hard to shift that thinking, when you try so hard to see reality for what it is but your lens is so distorted that you just… don’t know. It’s a weird feeling, to love yourself so much, but to also question the validity of that love, of everything in your life through the false perspective of others. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Vincent Van Gogh was a genius. He captured beauty and truth in his paintings, but in his life, he captured soul. The relatable man. There are bits and pieces of him that align perfectly with my journey, and that is simultaneously terrifying and satisfactory, all at once. My appreciation for his work has slowly developed over the years into an appreciation for him. And isn’t that exactly the point?

That’s the beauty of art. When I was a kid, I would say, I’m just not a fan of that style of art. But now I try to ask myself, hey, if you don’t like the style, do you at least understand the message? That’s a distinction that is sometimes difficult to extricate. But if I am to live my life hoping to show my heart through my work, I have to be willing to see others’ hearts, too.

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A Position of Power

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind, with women and men alike coming forward to name their abusers. It’s been disheartening as an onslaught of celebrity faces parade through our collective attention, but also not surprising. And I think that lack of surprise is what makes it even worse: we don’t really expect for people to be better than that anymore. We want people to be better, but sexual assault has become a part of the norm.

What I’m taking from these allegations is that people are sick of it being the norm, and want things to change. But look how long it’s taken to get to this point, how many people have been hurt and affected by people taking advantage of society’s passivity in holding those in power to a higher standard. We have dealt with numerous cases over the years; why has it taken us this long to realize something’s got to change?

And now that we’ve gotten this far, will it just be a phase? Will society really be able to make this stick? Will we forget about the allegations tomorrow, and continue on with life? Will anyone actually learn a lesson? The culture that we live in promotes a short attention span and a desire to conform, so where is the hope in all of this? So many thoughts cross my mind that make me pessimistic about the outcome of this scenario.

To me, what I think is important is that we shouldn’t be out to destroy people’s careers… they can do that on their own. This isn’t about being shitty to people who are being shitty. It’s about accountability. We should be saying, “You did awful things. Now, what are you going to do about it?”

And I think that’s the question that we often forget to ask. We are fully behind the notion of burning an effigy; but as we’ve learned with the removal of Confederate statues this past year, eliminating the icon doesn’t magically change those who worshipped it. It’s a start, but it’s just fixing the symptom.

I have a hard time labeling someone as a shitty person because I know we can all have shitty moments. But for those who continue that behavior again and again, it then becomes hard not to label them as so. In recent years, I’ve tried my hardest to reflect and remind myself that the way a person has acted up until now in their life is not the set path that they must continue down for the rest of it. There can be turning points that dramatically change someone’s outlook and allow them to reevaluate their life and act accordingly.

This time is a turning point. Or it can be. So far, we have allowed society to teach us that these actions are okay. The amount of people who have actively shown resistance to such despicable acts has been small, and easy to look over. That is now changing. And I hope that it significantly impacts the way that people see the world, and the way that they learn and their understanding of what is acceptable and what is shitty.

img_1872Let’s tear down the standard, not only in Hollywood but in all society; but let’s also rebuild it, so that in the years to come, consent is not even something that people have to remind themselves to get. So that people in positions of power will be able to understand the responsibility they have, and act with decency and respect. So that in another fifty years, there will be significantly less people who can be called out, because we learned our lesson this time around.

So yes. Let’s call people out for their actions. But remember to give them an opportunity. Not to make things better, because it’s not about giving them the opportunity to become heroes… But the opportunity to change. Let’s remind people that because they had a responsibility to uphold decency and failed, they must now fulfill that responsibility. Let them earn back their respect with any respect they give out from this point forward. And if they don’t do that, then they get nothing from us. If they can’t find change in their hearts, then we don’t want them in a position of power.

Anxiety

White-knuckled moments,
Rapid eye movements,
Too many measuring cups,
Not enough trust.
The list is smeared,
The counter a mess,
I spent too much time
And I made too much fuss.

Into the bowl, now,
The shell breaks apart,
And it’s pooling, impossible,
Spoiled.
If I can’t do this properly,
What do I have?
I have after-dinner plans,
Foiled.

I wanted you to be a cake.
I wanted you to turn out great.
But my hands are in charge of
The recipe I make,
Not my wants or desires,
Just the skill that I claim —
Put to the test
Like an amateur chef,
Motherfucker, will someone
Take over this mess?

I don’t want to bake anymore.
I don’t want to make this cake anymore.
I wanted a taste,
And I thought I could take it,
But not every meal
Deserves a dessert,
And I think that means this time,
For what it’s not worth.
I’ve screwed it all up,
It will taste just like dirt,
And I don’t want to cause
This confectionery hurt.
I don’t want to bake anymore.

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