Zhiro’s a smart kid. He was going to figure it out eventually. No matter how much he wanted to believe otherwise.
Today I wanted to share a moving dream I had this past week. You see, I’m getting ready to do two scary things.
The first is to launch the Kickstarter for Volume Four, which will happen this Wednesday, and no matter how many of these I run, they never get easier. They’re always scary. I’m always worried that all the work will be for nothing. If anything, they get harder to do, because I know just how draining they’ll be. All my doubts rise to the surface. “What if I’m just kidding myself? What if I’m wasting my time? What if the best I have to offer isn’t good enough? What if not enough people want the story I’m writing?”
The second is I’ve finished an autobio comic and I plan to start sharing it in segments every Friday for the next ten weeks or so. I’ve never done an autobio before. Not like this. Normally I couch my life in metaphor and symbols, themes and characters. There is something different about making an autobio comic where everything happens in The Real World and shows my direct thoughts and experiences. It feels much more vulnerable. Especially when the subject is something I have made a point NOT to discuss in public. Which is precisely what the comic is all about. I didn’t intend to make it. I just NEEDED to make it, and once it was done I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Do I share this? Was that the point? Would doing so paint a target on my back?
I was scared. I was scared of starting this Kickstarter and risking another failure. I was scared of sharing this autobio comic and risking loss and harm.
And that’s when David Bowie decided to pay me a visit.
Well, in my dreams, at least.
I was at a dinner party. It was a going-away get-together for David Bowie. This party was his way of saying good-bye, and he was giving out small gifts to people.
As the evening slowed down, handed me an ink brush, laden with purple ink. I touched it to a blank page, and a purple flower blossomed beneath my hand.
“The only problem you can’t solve,” he told me, “is giving up.”
We were out on a pier. Gray and foggy. Quiet. The party was gone. We were alone in the mist, walking. He turned to me.
“How does a child solve a problem?” he asked.
I thought about it, remembering the students I used to work with.
“They come up with a plan,” I replied, “Usually a crazy and complicated plan that can’t work, but then they try it anyway and they learn from the failure. And they make a new, better plan, and they try that. And on and on, until the problem gets solved.”
We paused, listening to the waves against the dock.
“If they stick with it,” he added.
“If they stick with it,” I agreed.
I had gone to bed not knowing whether I was up to any of the tasks I needed to tackle. I woke up feeling…not exactly energized, but far more at peace. These were problems I could solve.
And the question of whether or not I was wasting my time? Well…that dream highlighted the power of art and artist to me. We lost Bowie this year. He will write no more songs. Yet he had an impression, and beyond the grave the symbol he became lives on. It makes ripples. It continues to inspire.
If the stories I have to share can touch even a single person, than I too can create ripples. They will probably never be as far reaching as Bowie’s, but the fact that a single person can create any ripple at all is in itself a feat worth celebrating. So success or failure of this effort or that, it is worth doing. Worth creating something in the time I have, however long or brief it may be. And worth sharing the personal stories just as much as the ones clothed in metaphor. Even if those ones make me more vulnerable than most, because they may also connect to someone who needs it the most.
The only problem that can’t be solved is giving up.