When I was a small child growing up in Southern California I would ride in the backseat of my parents’ car.
Quite often we’d drive the 50-60 miles through the valley to visit my grandparents in the LA suburbs. All along the way I’d press my bored little nose up against my window with “Are we there yet?” on my mind, but pure vapor on my lips.
On and on we’d drive, whizzing past buildings, signs, cars and towns. It was all so dull to me then. I mean, if you’ve seen one scraggly palm tree, you’ve seen a dozen. Though I loved visiting my grandparents, I greatly disliked having to seemingly trek halfway across the galaxy to reach them. If it weren’t for the graffiti scribbled across the trains, I don’t know what I would have done.
Peppered along the freeway of our usual route were many, many trains running along tracks that hid outside of my line of sight. They were great big, slow-moving things— at least, they appeared to be slow in comparison to how quickly were were moving. I was quite fascinated with trains as a child, but I had never gotten much of a chance to see one up close.
So, every time I found one along the way to my grandparents’ house, I would stare them down. The trains themselves were cool, but what I really loved was all that graffiti people had drawn on the sides of the train cars. I don’t know what it was about that graffiti, but it just drew my attention.
Fragmented in subject, yet cohesive in energy.
Art has always been such a big part of my life… perhaps I was fascinated by the idea of coloring on something other than a piece of paper or a canvas. Maybe I found it curious that someone would deface another person’s belongings in such a way. I mean, I knew graffiti was wrong and that it didn’t belong on city walls or sluggish trains, but there it still was.
It is also vaguely possible that I found spray-painted nicknames such as “Snoopy” or “BoBo” to be quite silly… especially for law breakers. Besides, who on Earth was dumb enough to destroy someone else’s property and actually leave their name at the scene of the crime?
As it turns out, I continued to be inspired by graffiti as I grew older. Though I would still be a pretty rubbish tagger (due to being VERY clumsy with spray paint), I eventually found ways to incorporate the rebelliously expressive flair of graffiti into my own art. It’s usually colorful, ambiguous, and full of exaggerated forms. Movement. Contrast. Purposeful chaos. Graffiti taught me that you can color outside of the lines and break convention, but still create something beautiful in the end.
It seems to me that life is a lot like this… a lot like graffiti. There are times in our life story that are reminiscent of the artful, easily legible strokes, for instance. You know, when things make sense and people understand what is going on. Then there are times in our life story that are more akin to the indecipherable, almost grotesque scratches and squiggles that sometimes pop up on overpass bridges and cinderblock walls. This type of graffiti usually isn’t too appealing to most people who look upon it, but it sure does make sense to the creator.
All things aren’t meant for all people.
This seemingly pointless scrawling often means something to other taggers too. Just as our life experiences can serve as a warning, lesson or source of inspiration for others, even the ugliest graffiti can serve as a valuable message for the people who know how to read it. For everyone else, it’s only chicken scratch.
The upcoming posts in this series get really dark and troubled, so this is a bit of a disclaimer. I’ve contemplated whether or not to edit these posts out completely, but I’ve made the decision to leave most of them in. Though the things I felt and said way back when no longer resonate with me, I genuinely believe I would be doing a great disservice to readers to omit such a critical piece of the puzzle that is/was my life.
It is my greatest wish that by sharing my experiences (both good and bad), it ignites a spark of hope inside of someone who has all but given up on other people, life, their dreams and themselves.
It’s really easy for people to become successful and never tell the full story of how they got there. They just sort of pop up one day telling people to “be positive”, as though that’s all there is to know. While I’m normally a major fan of such advice, I know all too well that this isn’t going to pull someone out of serious depression or wipe away years of self-doubt or low confidence. This will definitely be of help to some demographics, but it won’t help all, which leaves me feeling as though there must be something that can be done to scoop up and edify the rest.
I would love for everyone in the world to live a perfectly joyful existence, but sadly, I know there are some people who will never get there. This reality bothers me to no end. Some individuals won’t find hope because they simply won’t bother to look for it. Meanwhile, other individuals will look, but will find nothing except sunshine-filled faces telling them to simply “buck up”.
Don’t get me wrong… I love a positive, uplifting blog post as much as the next guy. Heck, I write hippie dippie stuff quite often! However, the point I’m trying to make is that it’s important to sometimes show people who aren’t where you are in life that you’re more than just fluffy words.
Trying to encourage others can be a challenging task. I mean, no one wants to be a Debbie Downer 24/7. However, if you’re constantly preaching light, but never show any evidence of having spent time benched in the darkness, some people may feel alienated or even downright insulted.
For some, it’s not as simple as “looking on the bright side”, especially when the advice comes from someone who seems to have popped out of the womb singing the Mr. Rogers theme song. After all, little bothers a depressed person more than a non-depressed person telling them to stop being depressed.
I hope that by sharing where I’ve been I can help those who feel forgotten see that they too can reach for something better. It would surely encourage people to see someone who was once just like them make it to the other side once in awhile, you know? Maybe then others can be stirred into believing that the reality they are currently living can be a thing of the past for them as well.
So, I apologize in advance if some of my future posts aren’t as positive as they could be. As much as I want to share content that is upbeat and fun, I do recognize the need for contrast in life and in this blog. After all, stars can’t shine without darkness.
If in the future you see me post something you don’t particularly vibe with on a personal level, just count my gloomy posts as mere graffiti. They may not pretty or understandable to all, but it’ll mean something to somebody. For everyone else, it’ll only be chicken scratch.
If you enjoyed this little blurb I’d greatly appreciate you giving it a like or sharing it with someone you think would also enjoy it. Also, don’t forget to follow my blog for more stories and ramblings! Ciao for now! ❤