The Good of Not Being Satisfied – Zen #2

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The Yogi and the Passerby

The Yogi asks the passerby, “What does it mean for you to be well & whole?”
The passerby answers, “It means I am content with my body, mind and spirit.”
The Yogi asks the passerby, “Are you content?”
The passerby answers, “No, I am not.”
The Yogi responds, “That is good.”
The passerby asks, “Why do you say good? Aren’t I supposed to be content?”
The Yogi answers, “No, you are supposed to do the dishes.”
The passerby responds, “What dishes?”
The Yogi answers, “Wise question.”


Study Questions:

  • What gender is the Yogi?
  • What age is the Yogi?
  • What gender is the passerby?
  • What age is the passerby?
  • What Dishes?

Drawing and dialog © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

“They who are not satisfied with themselves will grow.” – Hebrew Proverb


How To Be A River – Zen #1

What river are you part of?

How do you know?

Do you love the other drops of water?

Is there a river if there is no flow?

Do you know where the river is headed?

Do you get to decide the part you will play?

Do you love the river you are in?


Drawing © Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote is a Zen Proverb


Can You Get Away? – Family #3

Getting Away

When I was 18 I went away to college. I never returned home to live even though I had many opportunities. I had to leave two colleges, one closing down unexpectedly, one because I ran out of money. When I finished college I had to choose where to live and the choices didn’t include moving to my parent’s town. When my first wife and I had to return to California from Graduate School, we had to choose between the town where my parent’s lived or hers.  We chose hers.

No Return

Why didn’t I want to return? Because I didn’t want to be like my parents. When I returned to visit I always remembered why I didn’t want to be like them and moving close to them seemed in my mind to be a recipe for being influenced to be more like them.  Be far away and that won’t happen was my thought. And to some degree it was true. I was influenced by other people, other families, by being far away. It really is an important element to many people growing up and into their own unique selves. However, no matter how far away I was, my family was still with me.

Being Deliberate

At that time, those family traits included alcoholism and a short temper, among other things. And those things stayed with me whether I was 3,000 miles away or right next door. I was still a product of my parents and my upbringing and no amount of distance was going to remove that. What did remove much of it (not all) was hard work. Was being deliberate about wanting to change and doing the work necessary to make that change permanent. That included stopping drinking in 1993 so I wouldn’t travel down the same road my mother did. It included working consciously to reduce my anger, frustration and annoyance with the small things in life that bedeviled my father for most of his life. That sort of change is always conditional. There are things that can make me crazy, but they are few and far between. I don’t think my reputation as an adult now would include having a short temper.

Keeping The Good

But there is another side to this and that is no matter how far you travel, you also won’t completely lose the wonderful parts of your family either. I stayed away but I still had my mother and father’s easy-going ability to befriend anyone and everyone. I still had her sense of humor. I still had my father’s intellectual curiosity about the world. I am glad I carry those things with me, no matter how far away I am.

How far have you traveled from your family, and have you been able to really get away?


Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

“They who fly from their own family have far to travel.” – African Proverb


The Fudge Family – Family #2

If you don’t think this is true in your family, I humbly suggest you probably don’t know much about your family. In that case, You probably want to look at ‘Family #1’ in the series. That’s about family skeletons.

Lee

In my family we have very sweet people and they are all a bit nuts as well. I am completely and utterly thankful for that. My mother was the epitome of the loud-mouth broad.  First, she was loud. Second she was really funny. Third, she didn’t give a hoot owl’s ass if someone liked her that way or not. She made fun of pretense and absurd efforts at self-righteousness. She was unabashedly sentimental, crying a river each and every time one of her grown kids returned home. Have them all together at the same time? She was a blubbering mess. She could make friends with the least likely of strangers in the most unlikely of places. I mean, come on, she met her best friend in a grocery store line.  And I am proud of that. It’s the thing I love most about my sister’s and myself, that we can, and do, make friends with strangers almost every day.  My mother is the reason for that.  Do I think some people think that is a bit nutty? Yep. Do I care? Nope.

Bunny

My mother’s brother, Uncle Bunny (born on Easter), had this dry sense of humor combined with a absurdist’s ability to connect completely disparate things together. He was the founder, for example, of the Marin County Zeppelin Society. It was open to all survivors of lighter than air crashes. Since anyone alive has obviously not died in one of those crashes, it was open to anyone. It really was just an excuse for him and his pals to get together every Saturday for coffee and brunch, but he went so far as to convince the County to put an official emblem up on the board leading into town, alongside the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs. Why did he do that? Because it was funny. It cracked him up and he figured it would make others laugh too. And it did.

Skeets

My Father meanwhile, didn’t have the same sense of humor as my mother’s side of the family. But he did have something I treasure, and that was his embracing of the new and different in the world. He wasn’t afraid to bring things back from foreign lands for us to wear, use, ride. He brought back from Peru a ‘Ruana’ for each of us. It is an outer wool garment, like a shawl, only thicker and more substantial. We wore those things for all our childhood. He imported 2 Solex Mopeds from Europe for us to ride. They are motorized bikes and once again, we rode them everywhere for years and years.  We were the only ones to have either of those things and I thought that was very cool. Those are just two examples of how my father was. He loved to find great design and bring it home. He didn’t care if it was something everyone else had, as a matter of fact, it was much more interesting if no one else had it.

Those are just a few examples of the sweet nuts in my family. Our daughters and my other sister, Jackie, also have that same trait of loving their individuality, easily make friends, and have a great time exploring the new and unique offerings the world has to give.

Me

A few examples from my own life. I once went through a fast food drive-through and was so taken by the beauty of the person’s voice talking to me through the speaker that I got her to come into the software design studio I was working at to do voice-over work. I didn’t have anywhere to display my daughters’ ceramics so I hot glued them to the ceiling in my kitchen (yes, they stayed up). I painted our white picket fence with black splotches so it would match our dalmatian, Oreo. I once did an art project on tan lines. I went to the beach, found people whose tan lines were showing, and asked them if I could photograph them. The vast majority said yes and the resulting art piece, which was those photographs collaged onto a striped beach towel, was in my Master of Fine Art Exhibition at San Jose State University.

Can this sound strange to some people? Yes. And I wouldn’t change it for the world. Embracing that heritage has made all the difference in me being a happy and creative person. I know I am always able to find humor and beauty in my life, am always going to be open-minded and curious about the world around me, and can make good friends and keep good friends, no matter where I meet them.

I highly recommend a lot of sweetness and a lot of nuts!


Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman

“Families are like fudge. Mostly sweet with a few nuts.”  – anonymous


 

 

The Skeleton – Family #1

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Exposure

It used to be that families would do anything to hide the people and events that embarrassed them.  But now we live a culture of exposure in America and it is much more acceptable for the world to know about these things. In some cases it’s become ok because we’ve come to realize it isn’t wrong or bad. Homosexuality is seen like that now much more than just 20+ years ago. In my mind that is a good thing. In other areas we realize that biology and chemistry plays a much bigger part than we used to believe.  Diseases, mental and physical, are understood to not be an indication of a moral failure.

My Family Skeleton

Sometimes we know something; a criminal past, an addiction, an affair, or an abusive relationship for example, is bad.  My parent’s generation would have done anything to keep those things quiet.  For example, I didn’t know my father had been married to someone else before he was married to my mother until I was 40 years old. Why? Because it was shameful in the Catholic church in which he was raised and it was a spot on the family reputation in my mother’s mind.  The fact that he kept it secret all those years was astounding to me and my sisters. We couldn’t figure out what the big deal was about it. But that is because we weren’t raised in his world, we were raised in a world he worked to created for us instead of that older world. He just wasn’t able to completely free himself from it.

Entertainment vs Education

In the quote above it can be seen as a family putting a skeleton in the closet on display, as if they are proud of it when they really shouldn’t be. And in the Social Media age some do exploit them for money or fame, a sort of perverse pride that says ‘Hey, look at how screwed up we are!’.  But I don’t think most people take it like that. I think most just want to accept that this is them. Then they are saying, if we are going to have these skeletons we might as well make them have some value. but I think most of us just want to accept that they are there and find a way to learn from them, to have the skeletons help us and others become better people.

What do you think?


Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” – George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, Irish Playwright


Taking the Shortcut – Evil #4

It really is, isn’t it.

  • In relationships, staying loyal is harder than going out and having an affair.
  • In school, studying hard and not cheating is harder than the opposite.
  • In sports, practicing and honing your skill is harder than taking performance enhancing drugs.
  • In work, working diligently and learning your craft is harder than padding your resume with false experiences and degrees.

So, the question is: why not take the shortcut? Why not cheat, steal, enhance, fake, lie?  One obvious answer is, of course, getting caught.  But beyond that what reasons are there?  How about living with yourself? You can’t escape your own conscience and you can’t escape your own awareness of being a cheater.  Knowing those things about yourself has consequences. You don’t act the same, work the same, love the same when you have guilt driving your thoughts. You will lash out defensively when it makes no sense for you to do so. You will be paranoid. You will always struggle with it.

But if you walk the straight and narrow road and everyone else cheats, aren’t you playing on an uneven playing field? Others get ahead while you slog away in the trenches, not making the same progress? That’s not fair, right? No, it’s not. But the answer isn’t cheating. The answer is believing that living a right life is its own reward.  You get to live with your conscience clear, whether or not someone else does better than you.  You get to be on solid ground.

There is a story that Jesus taught illustrating this.

Matthew 7:24-27
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Now, I am not suggesting you have to obey a certain set of biblical rules by telling this story. What I am saying is that a clear conscience and a solid ethic will hold you up throughout your life much better shortcuts, a guilty conscience and an opportunistic and selfish ethic.


Drawing © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

“Wickedness is always easier than virtue; for it takes the shortcut to everything.” – Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, English writer


The Friend on the Patio in Spring

The original drawing is available for purchase here

My wife and daughter needed to go to Utica Square, an outdoor shopping center in Tulsa, after Church. I took the opportunity on a gorgeous spring day to hang out at Starbucks Coffee place patio and draw.

As I walked out to the patio after getting my coffee I noticed someone I thought looked a lot like a friend of mine, Victoriya.  As I looked I just wasn’t sure. She looked like her in style, same beautiful long hair and stunning eyes, but her face was shaped a bit differently.  I hadn’t seen her in person in many years, since she modeled for our Photography Club so I wasn’t sure.

I sat 2 tables away and started to draw the scene. It took about an hour or so to complete the drawing. When I was done I posted a photo of both the drawing and the scene on my instagram site (@thenapkindad).  As I did that I noticed a posting by Victoriya showing a photo of another part of Utica Square with a comment about what a beautiful day it was. But the hashtag she had with it said #saturdayvibe and today was Sunday. That made me think it was just an odd coincidence and it really wasn’t her.  Often I will connect with those I draw to show them the drawing but in this case they left while I was still drawing and I didn’t have the opportunity to do so.

Later another friend, Bianca, commented on the drawing saying she had been there and loved the shoes the woman was wearing. She must have walked by right before I had sat down or maybe I was oblivious, who knows. I had also noticed her heels and had just enough room to draw a portion of one at the bottom of the drawing.

Later that night I messaged Victoriya to ask her if she had been at Utica Square that day and lo and behold, she had. It was her I had been drawing that whole time (she is the one facing to the left in the black dress).  She commented back on the post saying it was her, and thanked Bianca for the compliment about the heels.


Drawing © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

Numbers at Starbucks – An Illustrated Short Story

Chapter One

It was two in the afternoon when I noticed the two. The two were self-involved and didn’t see the other one. I notice that one had two distinct colors, her hair and her dress.  I noticed the other one had two things strange about him, he was wearing sunglasses inside and he was mumbling to himself.

Chapter Two

It was two oh two when I started drawing the one. It took me two minutes. It was two twenty two by the time I drew the other one. It was two forty two by the time I drew everything in between and around the two.

Chapter Three

After I was done I drew three more drawings of three more people, neither one of whom knew the other two. That took me until three twenty two. I waited three weeks before I colored the drawing of the two. It took me a total of two hours at three different times to finish this one.

The End

Four Steps to Avoid Evil – Evil #3

Let’s consider the history of the world, shall we? What is it filled with? Good people doing terrible things. Why are they doing these terrible things? Because they don’t think they are terrible. They think they are good.

The WORST of these violators think what they are doing is good because their conscience says so.  Their conscience might be in the form of GOD telling them to slaughter entire tribes. Or maybe it’s their conscience telling them it’s their superiority in intelligence or religiosity or genetics, etc. that allows them to enslave and colonize entire continents. Maybe their conscience tells them their physical strength gives them the right to own women and make them do what they want. Maybe their conscience tells them their wealth proves their worthiness to be in control over others and those others who are poor deserve their fate.

How do you avoid letting your conscience lead you astray into evil? For me, it’s by having a rules of behavior and thinking that guard against it.

Here are four actions that I practice remembering:

  • Being kind is more important than being right.
  • Knowing something to be true too quickly is not to be trusted.
  • Seeing the issue from the person who could be hurt’s point of view is essential.
  • Causing harm to a specific group of people is not my conscience acting, but my ego and my fear.

What actions do you take?


Drawing and Commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

“Men never do evil so fully and so happily as when they do it for conscience’s sake.” – Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662, French scientist and philosopher


Framing Oneself – Evil #2

Being Framed vs Framing an Idea

You have heard of the term ‘being framed’. It’s when evidence is constructed and planted to make an innocent person appear guilty of a crime. I thought about this as I drew this illustration of evil. However, this quote uses the term ‘framed’ in a different way than that. In this context it means organizing of one’s thoughts. You put a frame around an idea of event and what is inside the frame makes sense and what is outside the frame is irrelevant. It allows you to see something clearly without a lot of distractions.

So what do the two definitions of ‘framed’ have to do with each other and what do either of them have to do with evil? Both are built to clarify. One to clarify a lie, one to clarify a truth. Both allow someone to control a narrative of events. Both limit information; one for the better, one for the worse. And both are how we allow evil into our lives.

Blinded

One of my favorite lyrics is in a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter, ‘Sometimes we are blinded by the very thing we need to see.’ It perfectly sums up what happens when evil is right in front of us but we don’t see it. It’s most often because we don’t want to see it. When that happens we will often rationalize (frame) what we are doing in other terms. It’s innocent, it’s an opportunity, it’s fun. We reframe it so it’s not evil, it’s something else.

Brutal Honesty

In other words we fool ourselves. How do we avoid that? Brutal honesty is the only way. Now, when you are talking to or about someone else, brutal honesty is usually a code word for just being brutal to satisfy your own desire to feel superior. But when the looking in the mirror brutal honesty is the only way to avoid fooling yourself. Admitting your weaknesses, your inclinations, your habits, and your blind spots is how you stay safe. It allows you to frame yourself accurately.

Trusted Framers

That doesn’t mean you have to tell the world about it all. But it probably would help to have a trusted friend or two who really know you, that you can admit who you really are and who will help you build frames that are accurate and real.


Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

“A resolution to avoid an evil is seldom framed till the evil is so far advanced as to make avoidance impossible.” – Thomas Hardy, 1840-1928, English novelist – Best known as the author of ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ and ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’.


 

 

Evil Happiness – Evil #1

What is evil?

I really like this quote because it explains very succinctly why so many atrocities happen in the world. People want to believe in demons and devils, evil people purposely doing evil things. But in my experience, and in my reading of history, biography and sociology, this is not true. People almost never are attempting to do evil. What they are attempting to do is find happiness.

Intent vs Effect

But wait, isn’t that completely perverse? Yes it is. And that is why it is important to understand.  Evil doesn’t come from evil people. Evil comes from (in most cases) normal people doing things they think will make them happy.  Take for example the illustration above. Is the drunk driver who plows down a group of pedestrians intending to do evil? No, he or she is not. They are attempting to feel good. Are they doing that in the right way and will it really make them feel good? No, it won’t. But that is not the point. The point is their course of action is driven not by a desire to do evil but by a desire to be happy. It is intent vs effect.

When Point of View Matters

Let’s take another example that isn’t quite as clear-cut.  A white southerner in the US likes to drive around with the confederate flag waving from his car. His intent, in his mind, is to celebrate his proud heritage. Celebrating that makes him happy. But the black southerner seeing the car drive by doesn’t see a symbol of a proud heritage, he sees a terrible heritage. One filled with 250 years of slavery and violence against his ancestors and another 100+ years of segregation and oppression after that. That flag symbolizes evil to him, not happiness. Who is right?  I know what my answer would be.

Complete Evil

So, when is evil just plain old evil? After all, even Lucifer thought what he was doing trying to basically overthrow God was for the good, right? So if the originator of Evil in the stories of old illustrates this point, then what example of evil doesn’t?  Hitler comes to mind, right? But in his mind and the minds of his followers they were pursuing the corporate happiness of their people. All the evil they did, if they were even able to admit there was any evil, was in service of their happiness. That tells you how perverse and twisted the mind can become.

Looking at Ourselves

That is why it’s never enough to go by a person’s intent. Their intent, at least their stated intent, will never be to admit to evil. They will ALWAYS rationalize their behavior and say it’s about something else.  That is why one must always look at effect even more than intent. If the effect is evil, that is what matters.  THAT is what one has to look at in their heart if they truly want to be devoid of evil. It’s not easy because it demands looking at self in a raw and unflinching way. But it can be done.


Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

The full quote is, “No man chooses evil because it is evil, they just mistake it for happiness, the good he seeks.” – Mary Shelley, 1797-1851, English writer

An interesting note: Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, one of the most succinct examples of someone thinking they are doing good when in fact they are doing evil. I read it a few years back and while it has a very dated and florid style to it, it’s well worth a read.


 

Church and Art – Comparative Religions

Beyond the Spiritual

In many ways beyond the spiritual (is there something beyond spiritual?) becoming a Christian has defined my life. I became ‘born again’ in 1976 in LA, right at the height of the Jesus Freak movement. I started going to the first Vineyard Christian Fellowship, got baptized in the Pacific Ocean and stuck with non-denominational churches and college fellowship groups all through my college years.  I met my first wife, Kathy, in a college fellowship group, that brought me in contact with her family, who included the single best example of living the true Christian life I’ve ever come across, my father-in-law Dwight Johnson.  Boy, did I learn a lot from that man, I am so grateful for him.

© Elliot Erwitt

Judgment and it’s Offsets

An interesting clarifying moment for me came when I went to art graduate school in Michigan in 1980. One the one side I was in a very intensely free and creative environment at school. On the other I was attending a Baptist church my wife and I had found near where we lived. And what did I find? Both groups tended to be a bit judgmental of the other, no doubt about it.  But the art group, in spite of their liberality, were the more judgmental of the two, by far. I thought long and hard about why that was. What I discovered as I watched the two groups was, that in spite of the judgmental elements in the teachings at church, there was an even stronger element that offset that (at least in that church and the other churches I had attended), and that was teachings of mercy, compassion, forgiveness, humility, patience, kindness, and love.

Now, I don’t mean that no one in the art group had any of those traits, of course they did. But as a group they did not have any focused or guided attention paid to those things. i In this case, it was a very intensely judgmental art atmosphere. We were there to refine our art and that happened by putting it in the fire of judgment. But there was no teaching or guiding on the part of the main professor I had, nor the other professors I came in contact with, that offset that with the qualities I mentioned above.

Judgment #1 – © 2017 Marty Coleman

Both Can

Many decades have passed since then and I’ve been in the art world and the church world both for all those years. I like both worlds, and there are things I don’t like about them. Church can squash creativity and free thinking like it’s nobody’s business. But the art world, as odd as it sounds, can do the same. The church and art worlds can both make you feel like you don’t belong.  They can both define the world and culture around them as unacceptable because it doesn’t fit their idea of healthy or happy. They can both be so sure of themselves that they feel superior and enlightened compared to everyone else.

Cross and Dagger – © 2017 Marty Coleman

Best of All

What are you suppose to do in that situation? What I reach for is to be the best of both as best I can. But how does one do that? By practicing. Just as my artwork is better because I practice it, so is my heart, my mind and my actions in all of life when I practice those things I mentioned above; mercy, compassion, forgiveness, humility (ok, not always good at that) patience, kindness, and love. It also means I practice judgment. Practicing judgments causes me to use it less, not more. It helps me to discern between pre-judgment, a judgment from a place of ignorance and a judgment from a place of insecurity and defense, and the more powerful and good limited judgment based on observation, evidence and necessity.

Art and Witness – © 2017 Marty Coleman

Practice

You don’t get better at something without practice. If you don’t want to get better, then…sorry, you still have to practice because you can’t even maintain your skills without it. This is true of creativity and spirituality and indeed, any quality of character you want to have in life. Finding a way to be inspired to practice any these things is one of the essential tasks of a successful life.

What do you think?

Nude Being Drawn – © 2017 Marty Coleman


 

Being Blown Away – Discovery #5

Creative Flow

Recently I had a person ask if I ever have a creative block. I said no, and went on a bit about why. But I this quote explains my way of thinking perfectly.

  • “The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.” – Chuck Close

That is what happens with my napkin drawings, with my sketchbook drawings, with almost everything I do creatively. In this drawing I started with the quote. In my napkin drawings the quote is my inspiration point. It is the one that causes something to occur to me.  In this case I was on live streaming video talking to some people and thinking out loud about what an illustration of this drawing might entail. The act of visualizing love and war led me to imagine what the participants’ thoughts might be. Then I had my aha moment of the lover and fighter saying almost the exact same thing. But I wouldn’t have come up with that just by sitting around waiting. It was the act of creating the drawing that caused the prompting of my mind.

Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

“In love we discover who we want to be. In war we discover who we are.” – Kristen Hannah, American author of ‘The Nightingale’ which I highly recommend. Interestingly enough, her FAQ page has a very telling statement at the bottom, similar to Close’s quote above.

  • “Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of writers come and go — published and unpublished — and what I’ve learned is that the ones who make it keep writing no matter what. When life is tough, they write; when the kids are sick, they write; when rejections pile up, they write. Are you seeing a pattern? That’s really what this career is ultimately about. Showing up at your computer day after day to hone your craft. Of course you should take classes and read other peoples’ books and study as much as you can, but none of it can ever take the place of daily work.”

 

 

 

Advantages of Being Disorganized – Discovery #4

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Forgetful Rememberings

I consider myself to be average level forgetful. Not terrible, but not an iron-clad rememberer either.  BUT…just now I remembered I have to be sure to get program shirts for two participants in my running program, something I forgot yesterday.  I also have remembered 3 times overnight that I need to bring the car in today for a check up, something I forgot in between those rememberings. I also have forgotten where I have put my gloves or glasses or something, only to find them in a pocket of a coat I haven’t worn in a month.

Disorganized

But does that mean I am disorganized? Not really. It means my organization works well in some ways and not well in others.  How does it work well? By having visual reminders. Being an artist, I am all about the visual. If I have a visual signal I more often than not will know what it is I am supposed to be doing, where something might be, when I should be somewhere.  Once again, it is iron-clad, but it is reliable. That is why I like having a calendar, writing notes to myself, leaving things out where I can see them.

How does it not work well for me?  When I put something out-of-order and don’t give myself a way to later clue myself into what it is I did. This could be wearing a jacket I barely ever wear and leaving my gloves in them when I take it off.  It means scheduling something that barely ever happens, like a dentist appointment or car check up, and thinking I will just miraculously remember it a month or six months later. That’s not going to happen.

The Ultimate

Of course the ultimate rememberer for me would be an assistant. Then THEY would be the ones who would have to figure out some kind of trick to remember all the things I need to remember!

How do you remember well?


Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

“One of the advantages of being disorganized is that one is always having surprising discoveries.” – A. A. Milne, 1882-1956. English author primarily known for his ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ series of children’s books.


The Greatest Obstacle – Discovery #3

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Sunday School Question

We had an interesting question asked of us in Sunday School this week (adults call it ‘community group’ but I like Sunday School).  The question was this:  Tell us of a time you changed your mind about something.

The answers were all over the map, from the profound to the trivial. Linda’s was changing her mind about discomfort. She used to hate being uncomfortable and avoided exercise. Then she realized it is always temporary and she can get through it, so she has changed her mind.  Mine was changing my mind about what it means to be white. My paradigm about this shifted changed when I read the book, ‘Between the World and Me’ by Te-Nehisi Coates.  Another person said he had changed his mind about many social issues, going from being socially conservative to being more liberal.  Another person said she had changed her mind about salads and vegetables, having hated them and now liking them. That may seem trivial but I don’t think it is because it will have profound consequences in her health and life.

I thought of this question when I came back and finished drawing this napkin. Discovery is often about changing your mind about something. You believe something, maybe subconsciously and unspoken or maybe not, and then you discover something new and it changes your mind.

The Threat is You

The problem, as this quote suggests, is that discovery won’t come, and certainly won’t be initiated, if you already think you know something so surely that you aren’t willing to contemplate something that would threaten it. Without the willingness to discover, to be enlightened, to consider ideas uncontemplated, you must have a certain level of security and you must have a certain level of interest in something beyond yourself.

It is a very sad, pitiful and especially worrisome when the person unable or unwilling to discover new things is in a position of power over others.


Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” – Daniel Boorstin, 1914-2004, American historian and Librarian of Congress.


 

Hidden Discoveries – Discovery #2

Man, is this ever an odd one! When I start with a quote I don’t understand very well I usually end up with an illustration I understand even less. Then again the quote is about things hidden and not understood so … never mind, it totally makes sense to me now.

“We discover in ourselves what others hide from us and we recognize in others what we hide from ourselves.” – Luc de Clapiers, marquis de Vauvenargues


Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by Luc de Clapiers, marquis de Vauvenargues


It’s No Accident – Discovery #1

While I was drawing this napkin one of my many millions of live streaming fans said, “If this is true then an accident isn’t an accident at all”. At which point I ordered a ban on this person and had them deported. No, just joking. What I really did was every so gently explain why this person was so egregiously wrong. I then finished the drawing, came into my office and scanned it, then started writing this commentary.

However I had real work to do (work that makes me almost minimum wage I will have you know) and put this aside after writing the first sentence above. I came back to it this morning and can’t remember her reasoning anymore. Probably because it was so non-sensical but maybe because I am old and senile. Anyway, I remember something else she said and I am going to effectively rebut that instead.

She said, “That would mean the first person who saw fire discovered fire”. I said, “No, you are wrong” and deported her. Wait, I already said that joke. Ok, what I really did was say, “No, the first person who found a USE for fire discovered it. It’s not just seeing something that is the discovery, it’s knowing what to do with it that is.”

At that point she bowed down in front of me and pledge eternal faithfulness to my intellectual superiority. Or she said “pfffft” and we moved on to talking about the new shades I had just put up. I can’t remember now.


Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, 1893-1986, Hungarian-American Physiologist. He is the discoverer of Vitamin C.


This original drawing is for SALE and you should buy it! Or, you can always by a print of it for much cheaper.

But & And – A Short Short Story

But and And

She was stuck in the middle of somewhere but wasn’t sure where that was and that made her feel lost and scared but she did like her shirt and how her necklace matched her hair but she was self-conscious about her freckles because it was so weird that she had only three of them in each location on her face and she did like her new eyelash extensions that she had never used before but were given to her by her friend who she thought she might see so she wore them but now she doubted it because she didn’t know where she was even though she knew she was somewhere and then her ears started burning bright red which was not usual because she was usually blue but it made her look around and she saw a teepee in the distance not far from a big city that only confused her because she knew she had somewhere to go now but wasn’t sure where because they both looked attractive and both her ears were burning meaning both places were talking about her so she decided to wait and think about it some more.

The End

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly – Success #5

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When it is Good

There is a funny tradition in running. It is that when you run a race you can wear your medal all day long, no matter what you do. Go to lunch? Wear it. Go to the gas station? Wear it. Whatever you do, it’s cool. We also think it’s sometimes cool to bring your medal to show others, perhaps to work or school the next week, or maybe to a gathering of friends who you think might like to see it. Yes, it’s a form of boasting and us runners are ok with that. We like telling the world what we have done. Partly it’s for the ego strokes and partly it’s because we want to encourage others. When we have end of the season parties runners will often wear whatever medals they have won during that time period to show others. We will tell people how we did, good or bad. Often the ‘bad’ races make for much more interesting stories.  Sometimes there is a ‘humble brag’ moment. That’s where you tell how bad you did, but oh, by the way, you had a personal record in spite of that. All of it is fun, supportive and communal. We all get it.

When it is Bad

What we don’t do is wear our medals every single day. We don’t tell people we ran this or that race again and again and again. We don’t try to one up each other by interrupting a story to tell that we went faster than they did or farther. We don’t demean or diminish other’s success no matter if is greater than or less than our own.  We don’t try to make ourselves look better than we are.  We don’t ignore others when they tell their stories of success. We know that we are all rooting for each other.

When it is Ugly

It is not often this happens but when it does, it is ugly. That is when a runner is so insecure that they lie about their accomplishments. Worse yet, when they cheat to achieve them. That is why there is nothing worse in the running community than when someone takes a shortcut in a race to appear to have a better time.  That level of dishonesty and deception shows a deep level of insecurity and immorality.  That person has been poisoned with the delusion that appearing to be something makes it so.  Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is it makes you farther from being what you want to appear to be. It is ugly, it is hurtful and it is counter-productive to the progress of anyone who indulges in it.

More and Less

The same is true in any field. In politics, academia, business, creativity, etc. The more you obsessively boast of your success, the less success you will actually have.


Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by Sir Arthur Helps, 1813-1875, English Writer – Interesting read about his life in this and other articles.


 

The Woman at the Motel – A Short Short Story

The Woman at the Motel

A woman named Nancy at the Del Mar Motel who has 3 kids and Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses & always reads the sports section because her dad was a high school football coach who talked about her son with ADHD & Tourette Syndrome whom they adopted from the next town over in Orange County and took to Hawaii on his 6th birthday and hoped he didn’t think he would always get trips like that and who is trying to think ahead about real estate for her kids’ future.

The End

 


Drawing and story by Marty Coleman


The Claims Upon You – Success #4

Purchase the original drawing here | Purchase a print here 

Claims

In mining a person stakes a claim to a plot of land, registers it with the mining office and then mines it. What they find is theirs. In relationships some people do the same thing. The jealous boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse, the micro-managing boss, or the needy friend all stake their claim to you. You become entrapped in their claim and your life is no longer your own. You are doing what they want you to do how they want you to do it. It is absurd and maddening.

Society’s Claims

But there is another sort of claim made upon us that is harder to figure out. For example, this morning I heard a report about a woman who was complaining about her company because her boss made her wear high heels to work. She wore flats one day and got in trouble because the dress code called for heels. Is it an ‘absurd, maddening claim’ or is it a reasonable one?

Which is Which?

I work at Fleet Feet as a coach. They want me to wear their products when I am coaching, not the products from other stores. That is a fair claim upon my employment. However, if Fleet Feet required that I wear only short sleeve shirts when I run, even if it is freezing outside, that would be absurd and maddening, as well as dangerous.

The same is true of the woman in heels. If she works for a company manufacturing or selling high heeled shoes then requiring her to wear them would not be absurd. If she works for a company where everyone wears a uniform and that uniform includes heels for women then it might be ok or not, depending on how necessary the heels are, how harmful they may be to wear over long periods of time, etc. But if they are simply wanting her to wear them for no other reason but that some guy at the top thinks women look better in heels than in flats, that would be absurd and maddening. It is also sexist.

Fighting It

How do you fight it? The number one thing is stand firm from the very beginning of the relationship or job. That way you become known as someone who everyone else knows will resist allowing absurd and maddening claims to be laid upon you. Two caveats though; First, remember, not all claims upon you are absurd or maddening and second, if you are too serious or angry about it all the time then you will be seen as contentious and hard to get along with, even by those who agree with you. Having a sense of humor and a light touch in what you say and do can go a long way to both appealing to those who are claiming you and resisting them at the same time.

Then you will be a success on your own terms.


Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by Christopher Morley, 1890 – 1957, American writer and journalist. “There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way and not to give others absurd maddening claims upon it.”


 

The House of Dumb – Success #3

The House of Dumb

Here are Dick and Jane,
Prince and Princess of their Domain.
They have fans galore.
They are admired and adored.

They travel the world in luxury,
Never stopping to think or worry.
Their servants take care of this and that
Even their crowns (which they call hats).

They went to school but learned not a thing
Of common sense or reasoning.
They didn’t have to because they told,
Their daddy had a big billfold.

One day they were marching right,
Loving being in the light.
When they ran into something they didn’t see
A sign that read ‘you’re lousy.’

Dick and Jane thrashed in rage,
Like animals in a terrible cage,
That the crowd and daddy had allowed
The sign to be in the way somehow.

They demanded it be taken away,
To an ugly field and burned today.
Their daddy did as he was told
And Dick and Jane, on they rolled.

They learned nothing from hitting the lousy sign,
And thought their life was simply fine.
But one day their money did go poof,
And where it went there was no proof.

Then their daddy died and went away,
And none of their fans wanted to stay,
Now that the money and glamour were gone,
On Dick and Jane they would not fawn.

Dick and Jane never knew why,
They were no longer adored to the sky.
All they knew was they were poor,
And had to open their own doors.

Dick and Jane got old and grey,
And never went out to march or play.
They died one day in mid-July,
Never knowing they lived a lie.

Writers told the story later,
Of Dick and Jane and all their haters.
They became known as being from,
The very last of the House of Dumb.

The End


Drawing and poem © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by Bill Gates, 1955 – not dead yet, American businessperson and philanthropist.  – “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”


 

Patterns

Playing
If you are an artist then playing with line and color is a great way to experiment with ideas. You aren’t trying to accomplish something grand ,even if you end up with something grand. You are simply enjoying creating playing. No pressure, no expectations, no stress. One of the great things about this freedom is that it allows your creativity to flourish. As a result you can very easily end up with something pretty cool.
I have been playing with image making on my ipad mini for a few years now. I started by making digital portraits and eventually that led to overlaying patterns on top of the portraits that I would then play with. Eventually I started just playing with the patterns minus the portraits. This is what you see here.  Let me know what you think!

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