Looks like Blue’s having some regrets. Maybe just about his nose..?
Sometimes there’s big regrets, and sometimes there’s little ones. Occasionally, it’s the little ones that bug me more. In fact, I tend not to regret my bigger decisions. Panic about the potential impending doom that hasn’t yet happened, but…not regret. What gets me are the tiny little regrets that will creep up on me out of nowhere. I’ll be washing dishes, and suddenly – BAM – I’ll recall something I did when I was 16 and stupid and probably only I remember it, but I’ll feel as ashamed about it in that moment as I did when the events happened.
When I had come home from my study tour in Japan, my family went on a camping trip. Just across from us was another group of campers. My father pointed at them and said, “Hey, look. Those must be Japanese people. Go say ‘hello’ in Japanese to them.” At first I refused. I thought it would be rude, and invasive, and I wasn’t even sure they were Japanese. I heard snippets of the language they were speaking to each other, and it didn’t sound like Japanese. My father insisted. He started to get angry with me. The more I said I didn’t want to, the more upset he got. Finally, I agreed to do what he wanted, if only to stop arguing about it and head off an explosion. I trudged over, head down, just wanting to get it over with. Already embarrassed. I couldn’t look anybody in the eye. Just stared at the ground. I got to their camp site, closed my eyes, bowed, and said “Konichiwa.”
At which point, they very politely informed me that they were a Korean Missionary group.
I was absolutely mortified. I wanted to curl up and die. I was angry at my dad, but even more, I was completely disgusted with myself for caving and doing something against my better judgement in the first place. For not realizing sooner. For contributing to the incorrect and, frankly, racist assumptions they’d probably already been dealing with.
I was 16. I still, out of nowhere, remember that moment. I’m almost twice the age I was then, but it still bothers me. I can’t take it back. I can’t change it. And I can’t let it go. What purpose does hanging on to it serve? Yet the memory will come up and out of my mouth will hiss, “Ssstupid!” I’m not sure if I’m accusing myself of being stupid for what I did, or for still dwelling on it. Or both.
Sometimes, making a comic is a scary thing. It’s growing up in public. Learning to become a better person, LIVE in front of a studio audience. I look at old pages, old comments, and I worry and fret and feel that same kind of embarrassment. Have I contributed to mindsets and beliefs that hurt others? Have I done something wrong? Have I failed to live up to my own principles? Even when I think I’m okay, I worry that maybe I just don’t have the perception to see how I’m messing everything up. What if, the times I feel the most in the right, that I’m actually the most in the wrong?
Or am I just dredging up doubts and small mistakes, to use as weapons against myself?
My analyst recommended trying to put a name to these feelings. Possibly even imagining a shape for them. What popped into my head was “Wicker Switch.” A woven, malicious being, roughly man-shaped, with a pointed jaw and the rough shape of two horns on its head. What does it want? What purpose does it serve? I just don’t know yet.
Maybe the real means of escape is accepting that it’s okay not to know. As long as I try to become less ignorant. Making mistakes is inevitable. Making the same mistakes is a choice. What’s really hard is realizing what’s a mistake in the first place.
Do you have your own Wicker Switch? How do you deal with yours?
For our Una music today…
“Tinsel Town” by Seal. This was one of the songs Cory gave me just before I went on a big trip. It was the first summer after we’d met. I hadn’t admitted to myself how I felt about him yet. I didn’t trust my judgement fully. After a bad relationship in high school, my faith in my own attraction to other people had been shaken. But I played that CD over and over and over and thought of him. And bought him presents. And drew doodles that may-or-may-not have resembled him. So whenever I hear one of those songs, I think of that time. I guess Una’s a bit of a romantic. Although this song isn’t the most romantic of the batch. (The single song off of the CD that I MOST associate with my pining romance is “Loneliest Star”)
“I Come With Knives” by IAMX. On the other end of the spectrum is IAMX. There’s an ugly intensity to a lot of songs that I find beautiful sometimes. I can’t listen to IAMX all the time. It can put me in a really depressed and angry mood. On the other hand, if I’m IN a depressed and angry mood, listening to IAMX songs frequently gets me out of it. Cathartic. That’s the word I’m looking for. The feeling of indulging in that negative feeling. Steeping in it, letting it soak in, letting it wash out. Only, Una would do that with ACTUAL knives. Hence the song choice in particular.