We often measure our progress by others’ appraisal. We perceive by their elation or low tabulation of likes what works. Thus, we add to life a distress of our own making by placing our sense of well-being in others’ hands.

The following is one of my favorite stories. It shows how even a remarkable figure can be overlooked. One day a young man drew near to a mighty prophet in the gate, and said, “Please tell me, where is the seer’s house?” And the mighty prophet answered the young man and said, “I am the seer.”

The way this story unfolds flies counter-intuitively to what anyone would expect. The prophet displays no striking aura or impressive Hollywood attributes to impress the young man. The seer could have been a gardener or a lowly shepherd. A commoner. Unlike the TV evangelist of today, there was technical wizardry to distinguish him from the rest of humanity. Nevertheless, the prophet was a monumental Biblical figure named Samuel who left an undeniable legacy like few men in history.

Edith Nesbit, a British children book author, expressed how little we count for in the world. However, she places one disclaimer — the exception being those who love us. To paraphrase her words, the consideration we receive as adults is no longer the same as the consideration of childhood, free, ungrudging and invariable, but rather conditioned by the services we render and the extent to which we are pleasant or useful.

Unfortunately, this utilitarian mindset shapes how we see ourselves. Approval is measured out not by merit, but external attributes. We try to reach an unattainable celebrity status, by dressing in certain ways, following the self-help gurus of the day, getting plastic surgery or bodybuilding. These strategies, however do nothing to alleviate our sense of love and belonging.

In other times, people had to write out their thoughts in private notebooks with no immediate responses. They relied upon the inner motivation that came from attaining personal development. There was never any concern for how many likes or comments each entry might gain.

For this reason, creativity is and has been a redeeming kind of therapy. We need to express ourselves even when no one is out there to cheer us on. It allows us to look at ordinary life through the extraordinary lens of love, truth and beauty. It starts off with a rough draft. We go back to it until new insights appear while learning to express ourselves in more engaging ways. All this allows us to transcend the daily demands and pettiness through the higher self.

As long as we inhabit this common body, people will overlook our innermost qualities. It is up to us to believe in those extraordinary qualities no matter how often they are overlooked. Those qualities are like invisible friends. Few have the ability to see or appreciate them.

~ vincenzo ©

To the artist, each entry is a love letter that provides a sacred space for contemplation. It is twofold: what you plan to send and what no one but yourself will ever read. ~ vincenzo ©

Throughout youth, many children seek to fix or “unbe” themselves. Their social role call them to adopt a highly charged, extroverted front — to cover their highly sensible, introverted nature. Regardless of their true temperament, they matter to others only to the extent they reflect the resilience and tough-mindedness of the high school jock or spirited cheerleader. ~ vincenzo ©

“…her words were always like ready-made clothes, and never fitted individual thoughts. Anybody might have used them, and with a change of proper names, they might have served to describe any subject.” – Elizabeth Gaskell

The quote above may seem a small annoyance to some, but it portrays one of my greatest sources of distress. The beauty of an imaginative soul is the power to visualize vitality even when reality is insipid and cold. I shun doing anything in a run-of-the-mill way. It is not only what I express, but how I express it that matters. Whenever I give expression to something, I am compelled to give it full flight.

Creativity is a kind of viewfinder you carry with you wherever you go. Your artistic leanings cannot help but shape your outlook. Although muted, art has its own language, principles and codes. Therefore, if someone clothes an idea or belief in conventional/prosaic language, it may collide with your heightened sensitivity. It causes you to resist certain phraseologies and truisms that create cognitive dissonance not only to your readers or viewers, but inside yourself as well. Therefore for the artist, there are not only differences of content to consider, but expressions /styles as well. This diversity requires heavy doses of humility and self-examination.

~ vincenzo ©

love

in an unkind world
ready to devour
i survived
by camouflage
always present
semi-invisible
at one with my environment
yet never quite at one…
with myself

~ vincenzo

I lived my childhood surrounded by lots of anger, shouting and drama, believing it was normal — the fate of every human being. I couldn’t make sense of my surroundings, so it left me in a state of confusion and guarded detachment.  My world could turn from calm and pleasant to chaotic and out of control in the twinkling of an eye.  Afflictions intruded in diverse forms, but most often in the most insinuating ways. So, as a boy I learned to bear emotional upsets behind a facade of bravado where “everything was just fine”.

In my adulthood, I entered the lowest valley of my life where I quietly and slowly lost myself to a deeper and more serious set of adversities. My sense of peace laid flat on its back with all four feet propped up.  If anxiety and depression could describe my condition, I wouldn’t have been able to say, for I was too numb to feel.

During these years, I became as invisible as I could, flying under the radar as much as possible — making myself as small as I could to escape further complications. If I saw an acquaintance on the street, I’d walk on pretending not to notice. I did not have the strength to interact. I stopped caring how I appeared. Any photographs taken of me during this period revealed an empty eggshell existence. There was no sparkle in the eyes.

It was in the midst of this Cinderella scenario, the survivor instinct finally awoke — even though it was a pin hole in diameter. My life was about to change though I had no idea how. What began to grow, however, was the conviction I no longer needed others to understand me. The underlying motivation changed from people pleasing toward personal development, sprinkled with some unexpected moments of connectedness that gentle people extended to me.