Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Good Life

I just finished Seth's It's A Good Life, If You Don't Weaken, and I'm filled with conflicting emotions: it's a beautiful book, and poignant at times, but I think it's how much I identify with the main character -- or rather, how I imagine I would've as a teenager -- that stirs the strongest feelings. Well, that isn't being entirely honest either, but I truly envy his talent, and if that emotion isn't the strongest in my breast as I type this, it's surely the second-most by the slimmest of margins.

I find myself looking for small similarities in our lives, hoping they'll illuminate larger ones. Peanuts, for example, was a favourite of mine as a child also, although I'd be stretching things to say that it ever inspired any of my infrequent doodling. No, more than anything, unfortunately, it's the melancholy we've shared that's the most striking. Particularly as a young man, I spent many a day as Seth did in this work, contemplating my mood, and its possible sources. Eventually I came to the conclusion that it was a bit of the chicken and the egg, in that such thoughts only spawned dark thoughts, or at the very least, perpetuated a dark humour. By cutting them off before they had a chance to take hold, I found myself a happier man. I believe Seth also came to this conclusion, giving voice to it when his character, Chet, speculates that he spends too much time pondering such things.

What concerns me about all this, and, oddly, what is also reflected in Seth's book, is a perceived lack of creativity in me since I've discovered these happier times. The reference is only in passing, with Kalo's mother quoting him on the benefits of a little misery in an artist's life. For some time, I've worried that, beyond the darkness of my own creation, I have not suffered; in fact, I would suggest that even in my deepest moments of self-pity, I would never suggest that I have been anything less than blessed with luck and good fortune. (I may curse such blessings at times, but only half-heartedly, if I'm honest with myself.)

I also envy Seth his prodigious memory. However he may ponder the benefits of those musings, there's no doubting their detail and vitality. I'm hoping I'll recall more as I apply myself to the documenting of them, but I certainly worry about the depth of that particular well as I write this. The other big question right now is my ability to draw. I have all the limited tools of that craft at my disposal now, so that somewhat-dreaded answer is surely close at hand.

That's heavy-handed; downright dire, in fact. I got a bit carried away. Truth be told, I'm having fun with this, and I expect to enjoy my dabbling in drawing as well. After all, unlike the fictional Kalo, I don't expect to raise a family on it.