After being thrown off the mountain in my last blog post, I’m reluctantly back on the “study wagon” with this desert experience that’s grinding on for almost a year. I wanted to tell you a moment recently when I broke down and cried while listening to an audiobook trying to figure all this out. As always, TL;DR is at the bottom.
Two church friends who no longer live in town told me about the author, Richard Rohr. They recommended two of his books, one of which is “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.” I listened to the audiobook recently.
Richard says, and I’m simplifying, in the first half of life you have to find your identity, your significance and build your ego structure. In the second half, you figure out what to do with all that. He goes on to say that the vast majority of people never get out of the first half of their spiritual life (despite age) because they think that’s all there is, and in the end are more spiritually immature as a result.
He mentions the steps that happen going from first half of life into second. After listening to only two chapters, I had to stop for a few days. At first I didn’t know why I needed to stop listening, I just shut it off and stared at the wall. It slowly dawned on me what I heard, and this is what triggered it; “The first task, which the hero or heroine thinks is the only task, is only the vehicle and warm-up act to get him or her to the real task…”
Since the start of all this I had a gut feeling that creating comics was only a means to an end to get me into teaching art, and hearing Richard say that was like a gut punch confirming that suspicion. I spent maybe an hour crying over it. This is the first time ever I’ve cried while in the desert, and now my depression (which -was- under control) has reared its ugly head pretty hard core as a result.
I feel like a bait and switch happened and that’s where some of this depression comes from. God threw comic creation in my lap to get me into teaching and only teaching. I thought it being thrown in my lap was to fulfill my life long dream of making a living as an artist. Obviously I misread everything with God’s plan, but it still makes me depressed and slightly bitter.
The other part of the depression stems from Richard’s description of the first half of life about creating your identity, significance, and all of that. It made me realize I truly have nothing to show for the first half of my life and I’m being pushed into the second half without being able to correct or improve it. I still struggle HARD (as an artist) with my life goals not lining up with God’s, so even when He finally allows me to get back into creating art, it’s a dead end, ultimately, because I have to align my life goals to His.
Another thing at play is statistically it takes ten years of hard work to “make it” and be successful in any given thing. This has been on my mind for a few years now as I worked hard as a comic artist. The end of this year, 2019, is the tenth anniversary of me starting to create comics. Up until July 2018, it felt like I was sliding into home plate coming in on the tenth year, only to raise my head from the dust to find I came to a stop eight feet from the plate because I was never meant to cross that plate.
I originally had more to say but your eyes are glazed over, I can tell. In the next post I’ll talk about drastic decisions I’ve made, my attitude problem, a recent revelation I had and what happened when I tried to create art again.
Your continued prayers are needed and appreciated as I go through this.
As always, thanks for reading!
TL;DR: An audiobook about how there’s spiritually two halves of life confirmed Todd’s gut reaction that God threw comic creation into his lap as a means to an end to get him into teaching art only, and he still struggles hard to let go of the dream of being a successful artist making a living selling his art.