Giving Thanks

Artemis Sere Giving Thanks

The Past

It was once about large family gatherings and loaded tables, with relatives and loved ones close and health and happiness abound. 

It was about a perfectly cooked and stuffed bird, with napkins folded just so and silverware correctly aligned, left to right. 

It was about a cornucopia of edible options arrayed in haphazard yet logically-collected spread. 

It was about gorging until we could take no more, stuffed until a food coma was inevitable. 

It was about a football game playing on the television in the background, and pockets of people congregating with coffee and desert, grumbling about the game or how overstuffed they were feeling from all of the delicious food. 

It was about giving thanks for the success of the year, for family and friends, for health and well being. It was even sometimes about God. 

It was about hotels, long trips to visit in-laws and the unknown hovels of distant family. It was about appreciating the journey, even if the road was long and tiring.  

It was about remembering the past, appreciating the blessings of our lives and hoping for the future. 

The Present

And then it comes. 

The present, where the tree has withered and snapped away so fully to the point where the day of thanks is what you make it.  

The large family tables folded up and pushed into dusty garages with the passing of each relative, until there are no garages left and  home is not the same, nor familiar. 

The bird exchanged for a vegetarian lifestyle in caloric harmony with the ecosystem -- and with his own system. After a decade of gut pain caused by gorging at the trough and buffets, less is more. Plethora is exchanged for basic. Mostly full is the goal, instead of bursting with regrets. 

It was about football and other entertainment routines, until politics and football became the overstuffed birds on the thanksgiving schedule and getting to bed early became a blissful , selfish target for rare time away from thoughts about what's going on at the day job.   

It was about hotels and traveling and in-laws and over-commitments, until it wasn't -- due to infidelities and strains and endings and disconnections  

And growing old, growing apart. 

The myth and magic of Thanksgiving exchanged for the reality of how America has plundered the Native Americans, and still does to this day through imposing oil pipelines and diminishing reservations. Cartoons of pilgrims and "Indians", happily exchanging pumpkins and gourds and engaging in neighborly feasts in celebration of the conquerors, when the present state is a starkly different picture. I have to imagine that true Native Americans despise this Euro-fabricated event called "Thanksgiving". What happened to the Native Americans of North America at the hands of religious refugees from distant shores is not a past to be celebrated. Once Europeans arrived on the shores of North America, their lives would never be the same. 

In time, the holiday of Thanksgiving was left up to me to define. The family tree became too tough and frail to pull together, with leaves falling away with each successive year. When the Hallmark spin is gone, the parade out of fuel and pageantry, and the wreath's luster lost, there is nothing but silence and time. 

The Future

As someone who has pushed a chronic health condition into remission when others can't or couldn't, and who once believed he didn't have much time left on the planet, I believe we should be more generally gracious. Giving thanks shouldn't be relegated to an annual event bolted on top of mythical ideals.  

We should give thanks on a daily basis. Not to a God, nor a Supreme Being first. But to each other -- the humans that make our lives worth living. The loved ones. The random ones. The struggling ones and needy ones alike.  There is a virtuous and graceful circle of kindness and gratuity that we are important members of.

That circle is the human race. I give thanks to every human who engages in my life and drives me to smile. With out you, there would be too much silence and too many buffet dinners with the ghosts inside my head. Eventually, all tables fold up, lights power down and routines end. The need to be gracious and humble and thankful for the love and care of other humans never will.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

#humanfirst

Xoterica 9: The Flow

artemis sere's xoterica

As a future trend for this series, I will highlight quotes from one of my idols and primary sources of inspiration, the legendary Bruce Lee. In terms of Fight Club, Bruce Lee would be my power animal (he was originally human, but was as fierce as most animals…). For those who don’t know Bruce Lee beyond his “Enter the Dragon” and “Green Hornet” work, he was not only one of the greatest fighters of our modern time, but also one of the greatest philosophers.

Bruce Lee’s penultimate book, “Tao of Jeet Kune Do”, is a powerful guide on how to be deft, harmonious and reflective.

“He intended it as a record of one man’s way of thinking and as a guide, not a set of instructions… When you have finished this book, you will know Bruce Lee better, but hopefully you will also know yourself better.” (Linda Lee Caldwell)

I am not a martial artist and never have been. Though learning the practice of JKD interests me, I haven’t had enough time to learn the teachings in the framework of martial arts. Instead, I apply the philosophies of JKD to graphic design, visual arts and the rest of my creative practice.

“Jeet Kune Do, ultimately, is not a matter of petty technique but of highly developed personal spirituality and physique. It is not a question of developing what has already been developed but of recovering what has been left behind. These things have been with us, in us, all the time and have never been lost or distorted except by our misguided manipulation of them. Jeet Kune Do is not a matter of technology but of spiritual insight and training.” (Lee)

First snow today. The wind is whipping furiously, bringing driving rain and snow globe-like gusts. The season of human hibernation is approaching, where I dodge the inclement temps and tempests for the shelter of my creative space.

A good reminder that I have much to accomplish this winter.

#xoterica

artemis sere's xoterica

Xoterica 8: The Allhallows

artemis sere's xoterica

It's probably no surprise that Halloween is my favorite Holiday. There are enough Wiki sites and documentaries to cover the history of Halloween; this blog post isn't about the origins of it, or my history with it. As a horror writer and artist, this is the time of year that I am in synch with the creative and celebratory themes of the United States.

After today, attention in America will turn to Black Friday (sadly, not connected to Halloween, but a horrific shopping day), Thanksgiving and X-mas. Common discussion among the throngs will turn to feasts, materialism and football.

And my focus will turn to post-Halloween sales of cool décor and art. As a Humanist, I don't observe X-mas; I also participate in Thanksgiving for family reasons, but I'm not a supporter of the history of the holiday (truly, what we did to Native Americans was horrifying, and could be its own Halloween-themed event).

While I love the Halloween holiday, I don't celebrate in public ways. I don't give out candy to kids, mostly because I'm not home from work in time to do so. I don't get costumed up and hit bars on Halloween night, mostly due to the drunks and dangerous individuals that can make it a ghastly night. I don't get invited to Halloween parties, mostly as a result of the fact that I'm somewhat antisocial (I promote my brand as a necessary evil).

I do find the history of Halloween, and it's complicated mix of Pagan and Chrisitan roots very intriguing. Christian history is fascinating to me; I'm captivated by the proliferation and influence of religious propaganda across cultures and countries throughout the human timeline. You'll see that as a recurring theme throughout my blogs and my content.

That aside, Halloween is a time of celebration. Depending on your view of the holiday, you probably celebrate it differently than I do.

Regardless, I hope all have a pleasant (and safe) Halloween! Need a soundtrack to your macabre festivities? Check out my Halloween 2017 playlist and song recommendations!

All Hallows
(by Louise Glück)

BY LOUISE GLÜCK
Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken. The oxen
sleep in their blue yoke,
the fields having been
picked clean, the sheaves
bound evenly and piled at the roadside
among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:

This is the barrenness
of harvest or pestilence.
And the wife leaning out the window
with her hand extended, as in payment,
and the seeds
distinct, gold, calling
Come here
Come here, little one

And the soul creeps out of the tree.

Source: Poetryfoundation.org

#xoterica

artemis sere's xoterica