Xoterica 36: The Breathless

Artemis Sere SS-SG-00345 The Vibrant Noose

“As you think, so shall you become.” (Bruce Lee)

At one o’clock this morning I stopped breathing. For how long, I don’t know. I awoke howling for air sometime later with a sore throat and body shaken from the episode.

At the time of this writing, I still ache and am still shaken by the fight with my own body.

It’s not the first time sleeping breathless has happened. Over the last few years, it has become more frequent. Every few months I seem to have an episode where I awake from a dead sleep gasping for air. I think it has to do with stress and anxiety, a reflection of my troubled days, but I don’t know.

My Mom has sleep apnea, and I never had issues with it until the last few years. I suspect a severe asthmatic attack in 2016 that sent me to the ER triggered it, threw my breathing all out of whack, but I don’t know for sure.

Could be age. Could be atmosphere. Could be diet. Could be lack of fresh air. Could be the stress and anxiety of the present day. Could be a mix of all triggers that stop my breathing at night until some mechanism in my body awakens me to get the lungs moving again.

I never know when I’ve stopped breathing. I don’t know I’m out until I’m yanked out of dreamy state gasping for air.

The reality is that I may not have made it last night, may not have awoken in time, may not have got oxygen back in my lungs in time. Nothing poetic about that. Brutal honesty.

Today, I could be dead today from asphyxiation. Thankfully, I’m not, but I can’t shake the dread of standing near the exit door.

The truth is that I feel dead for other reasons. My inability to find a job with my skills and experience  has been devastating. Too  messages of “Thank you for applying, but you weren’t selected. We’ll keep your resume on file, and let you know if any other opportunities come up.” 

Don’t you know who I once was? Who I am? Don’t you see?

Obviously not.

And I suppose I’m losing sight of who that person was as well as my golden years feel further away. I take regular shots to the gut and the ego with every desperate attempt to end this employment drought. Where once I felt confident walking into an interview, I now never know what will happen. I tell my story, sell my abilities, spin the plates like the best of them, but can’t seem to make the connection. Who I am is not obviously good enough.

This helpless failure takes my breath away.

Once, breathing (and living) was easy, uncompromised, and the least of my worries. Across thirteen years of chronic colitis, I never had issues with breathing. No matter how down and stressed I became, I never was challenged for air.

While I struggled to sleep during that time, as my system woke me up every few hours to vacate, my lungs were iron. Asthmatic issues didn’t enter my life until after my 2016 accident, and sleep apnea has become a lasting side effect.

Another case of destroying myself in the name of art: my 2016 accident was as a result of working with resins without adequate PPE. Art safety wasn’t a priority to me, or at least I didn’t know how important safety was for certain types of art. Any art that exudes dangerous and unhealthy fumes should be taken seriously. Word of wisdom for you.

I suspect that event permanently damaged my lungs in ways. Likewise, my passion for art and prioritization of it in my path permanently damaged my life in ways.

Blessing or curse, my commitment to art has not come without painful consequences and unhealthy sacrifices. I used art to breathe passion into my life, and art has left me breathless. It has exchanged oxygen for output, hope for focus, and humanity for utility.

In attempting to try something different, to become a different person and artist, I exited for a different atmosphere and experience, exiling my successes to a distant land lost to my history.

In attempting to return to familiar spaces, I exiled myself to an unfamiliar present. I do what I was trained, and the audience no longer listens. I play the game as designed, and feel further from useful and valuable in time, an extravagant pet trained for certain tricks but not worth the circus.

Conventional advice suggests that I should seek medical attention. With a serious condition such as sleep apnea, Doctors should be involved and treatment should be administered. As I’m sure you can understand, that’s a complicated endeavor when you don’t have insurance – or the money to spare to put into fixing what’s broken. For a decade, I was flush with financial benefits and opportunities that kept me from crucial and critical outcomes.

Those support systems no longer exist for me. The system I’m connected to now squeezes the oxygen out of you, then teases you with air that you can’t afford, with solutions and answers beyond your grasp. I won’t take handouts, and I won’t burn all that I have to get help.

But I will get help, when circumstances are better and right.

I want to work. I want to be part of a productive system where I’m receiving adequate benefits and appreciating the fruits of my labor. I want to contribute and know what it’s like to be protected again. I don’t want to grasp and gasp on the edge of oblivion.

I’m constantly holding what little breath I have for the time that I can live again. I live my life wracked with worry these days. I get by with what little resources I can muster. I survive more than I thrive.

I know someday I’ll breathe full and clear again, but that time isn’t now. At present, the vibrant noose is strangling my dreams and squeezing the life out of me.

#xoterica

“As you think, so shall you become.” (Bruce Lee)

At one o’clock this morning I stopped breathing. For how long, I don’t know. I awoke howling for air sometime later with a sore throat and body shaken from the episode.

At the time of this writing, I still ache and am still shaken by the fight with my own body.

It’s not the first time sleeping breathless has happened. Over the last few years, it has become more frequent. Every few months I seem to have an episode where I awake from a dead sleep gasping for air. I think it has to do with stress and anxiety, a reflection of my troubled days, but I don’t know.

My Mom has sleep apnea, and I never had issues with it until the last few years. I suspect a severe asthmatic attack in 2016 that sent me to the ER triggered it, threw my breathing all out of whack, but I don’t know for sure.

Could be age. Could be atmosphere. Could be diet. Could be lack of fresh air. Could be the stress and anxiety of the present day. Could be a mix of all triggers that stop my breathing at night until some mechanism in my body awakens me to get the lungs moving again.

I never know when I’ve stopped breathing. I don’t know I’m out until I’m yanked out of dreamy state gasping for air.

The reality is that I may not have made it last night, may not have awoken in time, may not have got oxygen back in my lungs in time. Nothing poetic about that. Brutal honesty.

Today, I could be dead today from asphyxiation. Thankfully, I’m not, but I can’t shake the dread of standing near the exit door.

The truth is that I feel dead for other reasons. My inability to find a job with my skills and experience  has been devastating. Too  messages of “Thank you for applying, but you weren’t selected. We’ll keep your resume on file, and let you know if any other opportunities come up.” 

Don’t you know who I once was? Who I am? Don’t you see?

Obviously not.

And I suppose I’m losing sight of who that person was as well as my golden years feel further away. I take regular shots to the gut and the ego with every desperate attempt to end this employment drought. Where once I felt confident walking into an interview, I now never know what will happen. I tell my story, sell my abilities, spin the plates like the best of them, but can’t seem to make the connection. Who I am is not obviously good enough.

This helpless failure takes my breath away.

Once, breathing (and living) was easy, uncompromised, and the least of my worries. Across thirteen years of chronic colitis, I never had issues with breathing. No matter how down and stressed I became, I never was challenged for air.

While I struggled to sleep during that time, as my system woke me up every few hours to vacate, my lungs were iron. Asthmatic issues didn’t enter my life until after my 2016 accident, and sleep apnea has become a lasting side effect.

Another case of destroying myself in the name of art: my 2016 accident was as a result of working with resins without adequate PPE. Art safety wasn’t a priority to me, or at least I didn’t know how important safety was for certain types of art. Any art that exudes dangerous and unhealthy fumes should be taken seriously. Word of wisdom for you.

I suspect that event permanently damaged my lungs in ways. Likewise, my passion for art and prioritization of it in my path permanently damaged my life in ways.

Blessing or curse, my commitment to art has not come without painful consequences and unhealthy sacrifices. I used art to breathe passion into my life, and art has left me breathless. It has exchanged oxygen for output, hope for focus, and humanity for utility.

In attempting to try something different, to become a different person and artist, I exited for a different atmosphere and experience, exiling my successes to a distant land lost to my history.

In attempting to return to familiar spaces, I exiled myself to an unfamiliar present. I do what I was trained, and the audience no longer listens. I play the game as designed, and feel further from useful and valuable in time, an extravagant pet trained for certain tricks but not worth the circus.

Conventional advice suggests that I should seek medical attention. With a serious condition such as sleep apnea, Doctors should be involved and treatment should be administered. As I’m sure you can understand, that’s a complicated endeavor when you don’t have insurance – or the money to spare to put into fixing what’s broken. For a decade, I was flush with financial benefits and opportunities that kept me from crucial and critical outcomes.

Those support systems no longer exist for me. The system I’m connected to now squeezes the oxygen out of you, then teases you with air that you can’t afford, with solutions and answers beyond your grasp. I won’t take handouts, and I won’t burn all that I have to get help.

But I will get help, when circumstances are better and right.

I want to work. I want to be part of a productive system where I’m receiving adequate benefits and appreciating the fruits of my labor. I want to contribute and know what it’s like to be protected again. I don’t want to grasp and gasp on the edge of oblivion.

I’m constantly holding what little breath I have for the time that I can live again. I live my life wracked with worry these days. I get by with what little resources I can muster. I survive more than I thrive.

I know someday I’ll breathe full and clear again, but that time isn’t now. At present, the vibrant noose is strangling my dreams and squeezing the life out of me.

#xoterica

Xoterica 35: The (Great Good) Talent Show

Artemis Sere Xoterica 35 The Great Good Talent Show

“We are told that talent creates its own opportunities. Yet it sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities but its own talents as well.” (Bruce Lee)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told by people I love and respect that I’m talented.

During my job search over the last year, it has become a common descriptor for me. I’m humbled to be considered talented and truly am thankful for such a gracious compliment, but I’ve discovered that talent really doesn’t guarantee anything but madness.

People tell me “not to worry, it’ll work out” during my troubled times, shake their head in wonder at my struggle, but most of these people have never truly lived on the edge of the cliff, tip-toed on the border of oblivion. In less poetic terms, they’ve never had to fight to survive, never had to pick themselves up after multiple tragic falls, never had to rebuild stability. Over and over again.

Talented humans shouldn’t have to fight to survive. It’s a real tragedy of the human condition that we appreciate celebrity more than talent. A celebrity doesn’t need talent to survive, just a pleasing frame or persona or angle.

Like unrequited love, talent seldom leads to what the blessed hope or expect. As with unrequited love, talent “is a one-sided experience that can leave us feeling pain, grief, and shame.” Talent may get you to the doorway of success, but luck offers the handshake that brings you through the threshold.  Paradoxically, the more talent a person amasses, the less human they seem to the masses. The more unique an individual is, the less like the flock they are.

The Way of the Wizard

Talent is the energy that separates the mundane from the magical. We celebrate certain magicians for their wizardly ways, but most talent is met with apathy or antipathy. Talent is expressed in many different ways – physical, mental, professional, creative, a mix of all … However, translating talent to measurable momentum and survival resources is easy when you’re in the spotlight or limelight, but feels like circular madness when you’re not.

In fact, when you’re consistently told that you’re talented but are unable to use that talent to turn the applause sign on in your life, what good is it?

Talent becomes an exercise in cognitive dissonance: you’re told that you’re awesome, but not awesome enough to be a person that is embraced, shared, or lifted as a necessary talent. You’re told to believe in yourself, believe in your talent, exercise your abilities and expand the limits of yourself, but when you do that you can stretch yourself into someone unfamiliar to the world.

I read a recent article that talked about how important friends are to the success of an Artist. It makes total sense to me, and is validated by the metrics of my life. By follower counts, I have grown a social media following close to 50,000 for my Art and art brand over a decade. By engagement counts, I have a social media following of 50 on good days, mostly made up of people I’ve met in person.

The Great Good People

Talent is grandly taken for granted in our digital age.

We’ve lost our great good places and tangible ways to appreciate the creators amongst us in the era of covid. Sensations are created overnight based on trends and tribes. Now, many people are able to oversell their talent and capabilities with social media or digital technologies. The deep-fake, digital evolution has given everyone a platform upon which to fight for attention.

If the cage fight were a balanced match, I’d feel better about my odds, but it’s less about the talent now than the stage itself.  Consider,

Elisa Lam spent years on Tumblr and killed herself in a water tank on the top of an L.A. hotel. She’s a Tumblr sensation because of her attention to reflective content and “deep thoughts”.

Amanda Gorman read a poem full of timely poignant words during the Inauguration of Joe Biden and instantly became an internet star, signed to model agencies, and a feature at the Super Bowl. Evidently, the “Youth Poet Laureate” title was created for her. I don’t remember Maya Angleou getting such treatment. I revered Angelou in college, and she deserved her platform.

Is Gorman talented? Sure.

Is Gorman special? No. She is just a creator who was gifted special platforms and audiences. As a Harvard grad, there was no way for her to fail. Her success and celebrity were guaranteed based on her  platforms.

When I was a writer at a state school fighting for attention and dreaming of getting published by a Publishing House, I wasn’t offered special platform, title, or treatment. Why is that?

It wasn’t for lack of trying, just as it isn’t now. It is about the popularity contest, the heart of the great good show, where impressions and clicks matter more than integrity and quality.

I guess this is what it’s truly like to be a self-publishing, self-sufficient, self-centered artist in the digital age: I have enough time for a small circle of friends and a content calendar that speaks to a mostly apathetic audience, but since I have to plan, create, and share  experiences outside of the lines of a normal human life, this is the best I get.

Talent for another time, if I make it that long.

The Tightrope

I realize the odds are against me. I don’t have children or a large extended family, don’t have a protected class or status, don’t come from affluence or a place of great stability. I don’t hold popular positions in this Christian nation, or in any place where trust is put in God first (and not the talents of humanity). My views are fervently opposed by millions in America. In order to truly gain attention now, I have to be partially vilified.

Be the antagonist. Lurk and snipe. Shout my stands from the tallest platform.

But I have chosen not to walk that tightrope, be that person.

Now, our political lines affect our lives more than ever – what we consume, what we endorse, what we share. What was once boycotting of products and experiences has been rebranded as “cancel culture”. My way of canceling people nowadays isn’t to get in their face with my opinion; my method is to unfollow. But from this point forward, everyone will have a “blacklist” of cultural creators or experiences that don’t align with their personal beliefs or stances.

And they will be chastised by some, celebrated by others. I know I dwell on some lists, and have my own list of artists I don’t support due to their personal or political leanings.

Such is the case of Gina Carano, an American actress who was fired from the Disney show “The Mandalorian” for inappropriate and insensitive comments in social media. Depending on which side of the argument you fall, she is either an example or a martyr. Regardless of her level of “talent”, the stage has decided her path of success. I’ll boycott Carano’s future projects because I think her message was deeply divisive and insensitive.

But she’ll power forward anyway, and people will follow her, celebrate her “talent”.

I don’t think she deserves to be an embraced artist. But because she took a stand, the ignorant will line up to support her. Just as the ignorant fell in line in the 80s and fought against certain types of styles of art.

Fuck the PMRC.

And fuck Nazism and white power and privilege.

I think every “American” needs to spend a month in Germany and Poland in some sort of culture exchange. That month would involve touring beautiful Feudal towers called castles that once protected and dominated the populous, and will involve hitting every single site of Nazi atrocity that can be visited – Eagle’s Nest, Auschwitz, Dachau, just to name a few. Visit Berlin and see the remnants of a divided time. See what remains of the violence that once cleaved a country in two.

I saw it in person when I was a kid. The walls. The wires. The turrets and bombfields that forcefully separated a country.

Some culture, such as Nazi culture, deserves to be canceled. Visual and written propaganda was the backbone of a successful Nazi run. Very talented people in Germany created amazing works of art to sell the Nazi way of life, and the German people fell prey to the wizardry of Adolf Hitler, the talented artist and creator. In no way is that absolution of Adolf Hitler and his diabolical approach to humanity; it is an observation that before we knew Hitler as we do now, he was a talented, productive, brilliant artist.

Along the way, something triggered his talent in a malevolent direction.

Inside the Electric Circus

These days, the talent show is overwhelmed by automated propaganda machines and feed manipulation engines. No strategy matters if people don’t see your content. The reach of my content is limited based on the resources I put into spreading my message. The engagement of my content is restricted based on the political or personal leanings of the beholder. The sharing of my content is abysmal based on the placement of my content in the feeds of my audience, by the sheer chance of attention.

That isn’t to say I don’t have a core circle of people that appreciate my work. To them, I offer my love and complete gratitude. They are the reason that my artistic focus and brand have survived for 14 years; they are the reason that I continue to communicate my works and share myself with the public. The reality is that my stage is much smaller than I view it to be, and my talent is as obscure as the art I create.

Sometimes good, sometimes great, sometimes forgettable.

This year will not determine what I do with my talent in the future, but it will determine how I move forward with supporting the machines that work against me and if I continue to be an “outward artist” or “artrovert”. The expression of my talent seems mostly wasted on the mechanics of marketing and audience engagement. This art is bigger than a couple of clicks to a website, and the metrics only serve to remind me how unpopular I am in the great talent show.

If luck is my only way to a bigger stage and show, then I’d prefer to focus my magic on the works I create than the experience of the audience.

The circus of madness really isn’t worth it.

#xoterica

The Seremark Synchronicity

Artemis Sere The Seremark Synchronicity

It’s hard for me to describe well this situation and give it the resonance it requires. It has taken me two years since my Father’s death to address the full telling of this tale, far longer than it reasonably should. 

In fact, as I write this, his death and the connection to my branding seems like a lucid dream that I had while he was dead next to me. The puzzles remain to this day.

My synchronicity didn’t really happen, did it? The indigo pamphlet. The kind pastor. The final goodbye.

Everyone has a different experience with the death of their elders. I imagine some find peace quickly and move on easily. I imagine some dwell deeply for the rest of their days, the anger and angst of the end becoming their existence. I float somewhere in between; I have days where the death of my Father hits me very hard, especially when I go through my albums of photography  and his face is everywhere. Pictures that I took that I never shared. Pictures that I never fully appreciated. Pictures forgot while a gulf grew.

I still hear his dismissive “Yes, Son” in my head, still feel him around me sometimes, his presence looming and judging my days and ways. I suspect he wouldn’t be proud of the man I am now; he couldn’t understand the decisions I’ve made since his death.

But, truth be told, he didn’t really know the artist in me, and never really tried to. He never read a book of mine, and I suspect he never really understood my art, even though he appreciated that I involved myself in it. He was the soccer, Packers and Boy Scouts Dad; my Mom was the artist that truly influenced the creative I am now. My Dad was proud of my accomplishments, but he had an old-world approach to success and development. He was a responsible, dedicated, stubborn man, but one that was loved dearly.

I miss him to this day, two years removed from the painful events that took his life. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the years that led up to that fateful hospital bed, what we could’ve done differently, what I would’ve done differently. Haunted by the roads not taken, chaos seems to be my guide now. The echoes of recent failures seem to be my cacophony. Confidence is in question, and paths once clear and comfortable are now obscured and unsure. The ripple effect of his death shook everything that I have been and currently am. And in the face of the storm, I did what I thought was right and called for:

I clung tighter to herald of Artemis, embraced the creative in me, and focused my energy on growth and  legacy of the shadow self.

I created Artemis Sere on 7/7/2007 in the face of major personal struggle, and aligned a sigil to my pseudonym soon after as a beacon of evolution. My Dad knew none of these things, didn’t know about this artistic history, didn’t know much about Artemis Sere, and didn’t have a clue what the Seremark was.

Even though the symbol graced his deathbed, from two very different, vastly disconnected sources.

Mark of the Artist

It was always important for me to have a symbol, a central mark that represented and defined me. I’m not a religious person, and my need for a visual cue comes from branding and marketing, mostly in the music scene. Growing up, all of my favorite bands and products had visible and unique branding, usually had some sort of script or sigil that signified their brand. Converse. Powell & Peralta. Bullhead. Ocean Pacific.

Everything that is legit has unifying brand identity.  After I created the  Artemis Sere concept and pseudonym, and wrote my SERE Commandments, I began experimenting with different logos and visual designs to represent the Artemis Sere brand. This followed years of working with bands and developing branding for entertainment artists.

I had enough experience to be dangerous, and enough passion to be clever. I created my own style mostly by using apps that others didn’t or wouldn’t. It wasn’t until I took up photography and publishing that I started using Adobe products. I still don’t use Apple products to this day.

But I did use Microsoft, and from 2005 – 2010, Microsoft PhotoDraw was my application of choice for graphic design. While others were using Illustrator and Photoshop, I was using a clunky program that I was comfortable with. I created lots of great art in PhotoDraw due to its simplicity with layering of images and effects. This was long before I started painting or doing any sort of tangible art again; for the longest time, I used digital apps to express my creativity. While I’ve been an artist since my youngest days (I was advanced from kindergarten for being an expressive kid, and voted “Most Artistic (Dude) of my Senior Class”). I have always been connected to art, though my attention to it has varied based on my life.

However, I soon discovered the limitations of the graphic design programs I was using, and turned my focus toward creating reflective acrylic or watercolor art from my photos developed in PhotoDraw, which eventually turned into grand acrylic painting and experimenting with resins and other mediums.

In 2008, while playing with branding styles in Microsoft Photo Draw clip art, I discovered the following symbol:

The Seremark
The Seremark

It mesmerized me, and I could themes of evolution wound within its majestic loops. I fell in love with it and immediately adopted it into my branding.

The image I have come to call the “Seremark” is nothing more than clip art I found in Microsoft PhotoDraw in 2008. I’ve been using it as my main brand logo for 14 years, and don’t intend to trademark it, don’t believe it should be trademarked and owned. 

It should be appreciated, celebrated, and shared by all, given definition by dreamers and visionaries, and embraced for its amazing eloquence. I’ve come to understand that its discovery is greater than me.

Eleven years after adopting it, I ran into someone who adopted it too.

The Great Synchronicity

Here’s where I wish I would’ve written this two years ago.

The passion and clarity of the event have passed me, and I’m left with the whispers of what happened on that dark day. I have a pretty vivid and healthy memory for a 47-year-old, and my recollection of past events is relatively sound. I still remember the journey my bus would take from Waldenbuch to school at Panzer Kaserne in 6th grade. I remember what it was like to be in deep pain from a chronic health condition for 13 years. I remember my Dad’s contorted, yawning gasp as he lay still on his hospital bed.

Maybe having blurred vision of that day is better now. Maybe forgetting the details are part of healing. Perhaps that event, like the loops of my Seremark, took more time and life experience to unwind than expected.

No matter how much my memory strays from the lines, I always come back to the synchronicity I encountered in that hospital room in 2019. Most people appreciate “serendipities” in their lives; I look for “synchronicities”, where time and event coincide to produce profound outcomes.

Author Gregg Lavoy captured it well in this excerpt:

“I came to understand that this rather profound administering of chance was directing me toward something both my writing and my life needed at that time: more heart, less head. More intuition, less intellect. More of the inner life, the emotional life, the life of the senses. More listening. More of what Carl Jung referred to as the anima, the force of the feminine in a man’s life. And the Queen, of course, is the archetype of powerful feminine energy, which I felt myself being compelled toward by the kind of meaningful coincidence Jung called synchronicity.

Synchronicities are events connected to one another not by strict cause-and-effect, but by what in classical times were known as sympathies, by the belief that an acausal relationship exists between events on the inside and the outside of ourselves, crosstalk between mind and matter—which is governed by a certain species of attraction.

Jung believed that synchronicities mirror deep psychological processes, carry messages the way dreams do, and take on meaning and provide guidance to the degree they correspond to emotional states and inner experiences.”

Truth be told, I came to the same understanding as Mr. Lavoy after facing the greatest synchronicity I have ever encountered in my life. While it didn’t make me turn to religion, it did suggest what path I should be on.

We’ll come back to that. First, we need to examine…

The Laminated Pamphlet

(From Xoterica 14, March 2019)
“Overwhelmed with grief, my Mom asked for a religious observance. The late-duty Chaplain was a kind lady named Laura, who offered to help in our grieving process and read some scripture and other holy guidance. She produced a purple laminated pamphlet from which she read. Even though she couldn’t offer Catholic prayer, and she was in the presence of an atheist (me), she soldiered through a short service for my Father.

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t provide these details. Alas, with most events in my life, this event did not occur without a strange connection:

On the cover of the purple-ish pamphlet beneath the haphazardly-centered document title, my Seremark was centered in black ink.

The exact same symbol.

In a matter of tragic moments, a new paradox of perplexing synchronicities was discovered, unraveling the fabric of my mythos and introducing a brave new catharsis.”

I wrote that passage in the days following my Dad’s death. They’re the best details I have of the event that still echoes in my world to this day. Upon learning about Jung’s insight on synchronicity, my embracement of Artemis as my “anima” years ago became clear. And universal equilibrium through my existential approach became apparent:

My Dad’s death drove a synchronicity that profoundly changed my life, and validated creative decisions I’ve made since 2007.

Seeing that image on the front cover of the religious pamphlet didn’t send me racing to the pews and searching through scripture.

No, it had a vastly different effect on me: it had me dig deeper into the meaning of who I am and what I’m doing with my time on this planet.

Even the coincidental indigo color of the pamphlet resonated deeply with me. Purple is one of my favorite colors, and I have an affinity for the indigo spectrum. It was as if my Father was exiting this place with expressive royalty, acknowledging who I was all along with a tip of his cap, and suggesting the road that should be my focus.

But there’s also a great nullification here, and why I’m driven to maintain a secular, trademarkless connection to the symbol I found in Microsoft PhotoDraw: used by both religious representatives and secular representatives, the spiritual nature of the symbol was completely canceled out. The symbol captured by both elements and printed on paper heralds nothing more than a beautiful mystery. Throughout the remaining pages of the laminated pamphlet there was scripture soothing to those that follow the Biblical fantasies. I don’t remember anything the Chaplain said or read from the pamphlet that day.

The message was communicated through the symbol that I adopted in 2008 to guide my anima, Artemis Sere. The path was clear.

The Ripple Effect

The death of my Father, Robert Edward Lee Zuege, on January 30, 2019 set off a chain of events that still affect me to this day.

At the time, I was a very successful, comfortable marketer with an amazing job at an amazing company. I had a large network of engaged professional friends and an upward trajectory that was undeniable. I worked hard, stressed hard, lived hard, but my art suffered. Not the production of it, but the management and direction of it. I dedicated as much time as I could to Art, but working 40-50 hours a week didn’t allow for much more than offering an outlet for my angst.

For years, the artist had been screaming for attention. Books planned that I never had time to work on. Art that I created that I didn’t have time to catalog. Blogs that I wrote that were imperfect and disjointed. A website that served my basic needs, but didn’t tell my story well. I’m great at digital stories, but the focus and resources for my Art were mostly siphoned elsewhere.

My life was greatly imbalanced, and had been for years. Deep inside, I knew it. I told my coworkers that I was thinking about a life change as early as 2018, but didn’t execute that change until the death of my Father inspired me to do so.

In March of 2019, I exited every comfortable structure I had come to know for a brave new future as an artist-first person. It felt a lot like how I would imagine “coming out of the closet” flows. There were cheers of excitement, shakes of frustration, considerations of insanity.

To jump before knowing the scope your possible fall is dangerous. But only if you miss the rope, reach the bottom, break yourself into pieces, and still manage to survive. The pieces never reassemble correctly, and life rarely feels familiar. I’ve lived through rock bottom now, continue to pick up the pieces of my broken life, and wonder if I was ever really making the leap towards a new universe in the name of my father.

And as I recollect the time, the decision to power forward wasn’t so much in the memory of him, but the synchronicity of that strange time, the symbol that reinforced that my path ahead was emblazoned on the indigo paper that connected all of us in the room that day,

what I call “The Seremark”, for lack of a better known term.

Like Gotham calling to Batman with a symbol spotlight in the sky, the Seremark called to me for attention, direction, and passion. Some are called to religion through symbols of faith. Some are called to union through consumerism. Some are called to guidance through symbols in the stars.

I was called to Art through random clip art found on a Saturday afternoon that became the symbol for a brand that has been evolving for 14 years. It has defined me, represented me, composed me. It has served as a beacon of truth, and an expression of creative freedom. I have created existential mapping for its loops and twirls, as if it has some sort of metaphysical makeup. I tattooed it onto my body as if it’s a glyph.

And while I may call it the logo for my brand, I know it isn’t. Like any religious icon or emblem, it is only given power by the people that celebrate it. I know the symbol is shared beauty, created as  throwaway clip art by a talented person who never expected their creation to be embraced.

To be shared.

To be elevated.

To be believed in.

Things that every artist – and father or mother,  son or daughter – strives for.

Artemis Sere The Seremark Synchronicity
Artemis Sere The Seremark Synchronicity