I feel like a powder keg about to blow the powder off these slick streets. Not necessarily angry at anyone in particular. Not terroristic or blatantly suicidal. Not twisted or realistically violent.
I know I’ve felt this way for most of 2020, and know I need to change. This trend isn’t healthy or hopeful.
But I seem to be mired in a constant state of head-shaking these days. Nodding through the failures, smiling through the dismissals.
2019 was a year of deep alignment, sadness and separation; 2020 was the year of collapse, of everything I built over a decade.
2020 began positive promise with the completion of my first book in five years, the largest thing I’ve ever created, and the coalescence of nearly one thousand hours of work. It started with my enthusiastic application for jobs that I thought I was qualified for, following the acceptance of the delay of my #metalmorphosis. It started with the development of Grimspell Gaming with a circle of trusted friends and brothers.
2020 nears its end with my confidence shaken, my professional career on lifelines, and the Artemis Sere universe jilted. This static isn’t a cry for help. This isn’t an emo tantrum. This isn’t a wistful whine.
This is a serious accounting of where I’m currently at, and acknowledgment of the reckoning that has befallen my life. This is the esoteric crackle of #xoterica kinetics. This is the basement level of Six Martyr Place.
I’ve applied for over 50 marketing jobs in the Twin Cities Area in 2020, trying to claw my way back into the vocation where I have the most experience and success, That tireless work has resulted in 45 minutes worth of interviews and a two-month project that sadly ended up as fruitless.
I’ve given away as many copies of “Echoprism Vol. 1” as I’ve sold in 2020. Even with the promotion I developed which gives a discount on hundreds of dollars of tangible art with the a simple $50 purchase, I’ve sold less than ten copies. As it represents 300 of my fine art pieces and some of my best work, I take it personally that my audience hasn’t embraced it, appreciated all of the work I put into it, and made it part of their lives.
But I don’t let that slap stop me, only sting me.
I spent most of 2020 away from the majority of social media, sticking with Twitter to maintain the soft heartbeat of my brand. But even my Twitter audience continues to fade away, with engagement near zero and no regular engagers without my political rants. My return to Facebook and Instagram have provided me outlets to share my work, but offered me windows into who is no longer connected to me, no longer interested in my art.
For all the work I put into art, I’m mostly paid with silence, distance, and indifference (note: deep thanks to those people who have stuck with me on this long, dark road). I needed to sell well this year to dig myself out of the hole my Welding misfire put me in, and I failed. For the first time in over a decade, I’m facing complete professional, financial, and personal crashes. I dwell at rock bottom these days, and am struggling to find my way up.
In 2020 I produced some of my best work in my history – best book, best blogs, best website, best brand content, best paintings, best photography, best art yard sale, best digital art. Yet, I feel farther from successful than ever.
And I feel like I’m running out of answers – or, at least, I’m running out of the passion to try to find new answers because the old ones, the ones that are supposed to work, aren’t working. Inspiration is at an all-time low. The fires of hope have dimmed as low as the days when I was chronically ill.
Why do I have to try so hard? Why do I constantly have to redefine and recommunicate my value? I have friends that kick off new art and businesses and their efforts spread like wildfire. My LinkedIn feed is filled with positive stories of progress and success.
I want to believe that human existence isn’t one big popularity contest, where you’re either part of the pageant or part of the audience. I want to understand what my role is here. I want to feel like I’m part of the party again.
It seems like I just don’t know how anymore. I was once a fearless leader; I now feel more comfortable as a feeble follower. I once believed that you make your own luck, but have learned the hard way that there is truly no such thing as a self-made person.
I’ve been watching the “Manhunt” series on Netflix lately, and becoming reacquainted with both Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph. They’re certainly not inspiring stories, nor people to emulate. They were two people who were twisted enough by society to turn against it. Intelligent, gifted men that became so frustrated by the system and the humans within it that they turned to preying on it. Trust me, I’m not considering preying on the system or the people in it, but I do understand how the system can turn people against it.
Violence doesn’t lead to positive change, and raging against the system only makes you a target of the system.
But the system only benefits those that it chooses. As a single, unmarried, family-less, childless white male with more art assets than fortune, I have few places to turn for help. The pressure to conform to the system and to society around us turns some of us into flawed diamonds, but renders most of us as compact cores of coal with soft shells and hardened, calcified hearts.
I’ve lived without healthcare in any form for two years now. I simply can’t afford it. I’ve had to prioritize my life in very dramatic ways since I started my metalmorphosis in early 2019. Presently, I have an ear infection which has reduced the hearing in my right ear by half (or more, depending on the day). Earlier this year, I suffered a major on-the-job injury and had a month-long brush with covid. All outside of a healthcare system that I can’t afford to be part of.
Ironically, I spent half of my last 10 years of working a well-paying job to pay off back taxes and medical bills that I acquired while I was part of a system that I couldn’t afford. I didn’t transition to trying something new with wealth or a wealth of opportunities.
I did it with raw human courage, hope, and passion. I fight this battle by myself and what little resource I have, appreciating the friends and social programs that kept me afloat during 2020’s #yearofcivility.
I held in a lot of fire and rage during this divisive, explosive, and confrontational year. It’s far past time to let the inferno scream and burn as a passionate pyre.
On this eve of evolution, where I dream about the opportunities and possibilities of a new year, I hold hope for a brave new future.
I’ve survived tougher times than these.