Emerging from a Darkness Within

Growing up, for some reason, was extremely painful for me. I had great difficulty socializing with other kids my age and constantly felt isolated and lonely. I was gangly, awkward, prone to accident, highly sentimental, withdrawn, and was an ugly duckling. I have a brother Mark who is a year and a day younger then I. Mark is the exact opposite of me, he is the model of perfection: curly blond hair, piercing blue eyes and incredibly outgoing, funny, fearless, and incredibly handsome. People often mistook as twins when we were younger, because I was held back and had to repeat the 1st grade so we grew up together. We have always been the same build and often wore the same clothes. Our mother always dressed us a like when where were kids. I feel like I have always lived in Mark’s shadow. He seemed to be dad’s favorite and could do no wrong, they were always involved in activities together and Mark seemed naturally good at everything. Everything I touched seemed bad or wrong and usually ended in some kind of disaster. During those years my father was not overly patient and I become the stupid one. If we were working with tools I was always doing it wrong and would get yelled at telling me I was going to cut my hands off and just not to touch anything. I grew up with the greatest fear of power tools, which is funny because I love them today, and build the most remarkable studio space I am currently in. I learned early that I would not amount to much and growing up seemed like a hopeless endeavor. It caused me to retreat and become withdrawn. It seems that when you believe you are stupid, it breeds stupidity and becomes it’s own self-fulfilling prophecy. I must have been stupid I could not even make it though the 1st grade without Mark. I was terrified of so many things. Perhaps I was accident-prone and am reading too much into this, but I defiantly remember how painful it was to interact with anyone and so I would retreat into a book or something creative. Mark somehow had all the friends, he was athletic and did all the guy things well. Growing up in small towns and on a ranch there was not a lot of people to hang with and the few that were around somehow rallied around Mark and this often left me alone. One of the most devastating memories I have of grade school was in the 4th grade on the front steps of the steps of Alberton school, it was my birthday and a bunch of the kids come up to me and said they had a gift for me, and were acting like they were going to become my friends. For the first time I felt like I was noticed, they were talking nice to me and for once being kind. I remember being touched and my heart pounding that they were going to reward me with something special for my birthday. As soon as I let my guard down they pulled out milk cartons and gave them to me. When I opened them my heart sank because they were filled with left over scraps of food from lunch. Wow I am surprised I remember this and am still overwhelmed with those feelings of my heart breaking as I burst into tears as everyone laughed because they had duped the sensitive kid again. Perhaps I wore my emotions on my sleeve and was just an easy target, and everyone knew they could impact me. It pushed me deeper within myself. Yet I was highly creative and artistic. It was during this same time I built a slide projector a simple lamp in a wooden box, cut a circular hole cut in one end to hold an empty paper towel tube, and inserted a pocket magnifying glass my uncle had given me from his Radio Shack store in the end. I would then draw images on strips of paper I pasted together and spool them though the light on pop cycle sticks to create elaborate slide shows on the walls. It was clear I would do anything to escape into a world of my own. When you look at my images it is really me the little boy trying to emerge from the darkness.

I have since become best friends with my brother Mark and we are closer than ever. I now crave time together, which doesn’t happen near enough because we live so far apart and are both so busy. Now I bathe my brother in the extraordinary light of my artistry for him to live forever in my heart filled with fondness. Tennessee Williams best sums it up in the closing speech from The Glass Menagerie “…for time is the greatest distance between two places-”. To become artists we must face the obstacles we have persevered to overcome and bring our deepest fears into the light.

One thought on “Emerging from a Darkness Within

  1. Anonymous

    >This is so similar to my growing up in helena….same situtations, same bully's, same inwardness. An the same use of releasing, through artistry, theater, men…

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