Letter of Appreciation

Recently, I had a chance to send a letter to someone who inspired in the last few years.  I did not expect a response, but it was a great moment of catharsis. I am sharing it on my blog now.

Dear Christopher Titus,

I am writing to express how your words and humor have come to mean more to me than I realized at first.  This is not a cry out for acknowledgement or fame.  It is not a move to turn your eyes to me.  It is simply a letter of my appreciation for your message.  As you have stated, it is the act of being on stage and sharing your pain with the world that became the therapy that you needed.  Those words hit home with me and have helped to pull me through a very difficult time and reinforced my resilience for the years ahead. So, for me, this is my form of therapy.

My story begins with the end of 2011.  For a bit of background, I had been struggling to recover from a move across the US from Ohio to Arizona.  It was supposed to be a great opportunity as I graduated from college in the fall of 2007 after several years of part time class work. My family and I were excited for the move.  Once we arrived, the economy started to buckle and collapse.  I took jobs where I could and found my way through into management in the service industry.

By the time 2011 arrived, I had elevated a business to the top in the area’s market and looked to move to bigger and better.  I stepped into a new position working for a different employer.  This would have been a great position to show more of my skills.  Yet, the struggles of a brand new business are common and within four months, the employer had lost his confidence and terminated me on Decemeber 27, 2011.

I entered 2012 with no job or prospects. I was forced to turn to government assistance for a lengthy time.  I had to ask for financial help from family in order to keep a home as we were under a lease.  For ten months, I searched for any option to pull me through.  I found you.

During the long days of submitting resumes and applications, I found a need for background music.  However, that became monotonous, so I searched for some podcasts.  I tested out a few.  It was worse than listening to radio with all the ads.  I was losing hope to find something.  Like the last beams of sunlight through the clouds, I found The Titus Podcast.  Engrossed in the stories and news, I had the inspirational voice to pull me from the depths.  I had been a fan of your comedy and TV show, but the lack of cable had limited my continued exposure.  The podcast was a savior.

With it, I added a new aspect to my outlook on life.  I started writing a blog to help express my opinions and frustrations with the world in the same vein as your wonderful Armageddon updates.  I found purpose once more and continue to be the life raft for my own family.  By the end of 2012, I was back in the work force and providing the stability that my life needed.  A factor to that success can be attributed to you.

I am always excited when I hear that you are coming to Phoenix.  I am looking for a way to afford the tickets to see your performance on Sunday, April 28.  That particular show brings to the stage the beginning of your evolution.  It is an expression of how you realized that you had the fuel within to accomplish anything that you set your sights on.  It is a gift.  If I don’t catch you this time, I will find my way to see you soon enough. I have no doubts that I can do it now.

In the mean time, don’t stop what you are doing.  There is someone out there that will hear your words and have the chance to make it a better life.  I appreciate you taking the time to read through this.

Your fan

crudus animus

Artwork Samples

I have an update on my artwork.  I cannot share all of the images yet as they will be part of a final project for sale.  I can share some of the processes including some test pieces. These images will be placed throughout this post.  I believe that this has left me with some very good pieces, but nothing that the author wants to use for the final cover.  So, I will offer them here for comment and critique, if anyone wishes.
Final sketch of Alexandra

Color pencil of Tempted

Initial sketch of Michel
In past posts, I have suggested that I am truly enjoying this activity.  Such a statement seems to be an understatement as I move further into this work.  It has gobbled up more time than expected and my day job has expanded.  These are blessings as this blog was a remedy for the emotions of non-productive times.  Now, I am doing well and I will attempt to share a little more of myself with others.

I hate to be brief with my posts, but time is a factor.  I offer these images and hope to hear for you all.  Thanks.

crudus animus

Have a Taste of the Big Picture

With a moment of peace, a person can learn to reflect solely on the world, the events of the present, and the emotions around each incident.  If each of us took a step back to observe this exercise on a daily basis, it may lead us to understand a little more of the world and our place in the big picture.

This big picture can cause confusion in a person if they are not used to it or have never encountered it. We each are often left in the small, subjective corner of the world for so long that we forget that we are part of something bigger and broader.  A taste of the macrocosm can often give us a larger understanding, but it can overwhelm the senses during the first few times. Normal conditioning leads the average person to accept their place in the large machine and never look beyond the immediate area.  It is our territory and it is all that matters.

Such thinking can stunt the experiences of the individual and hamper the community.  As stated many times before, the liberality and cognizance of minds is crucial, and it is very important to remember that stepping to the side to observe the bigger picture widens the eyes.  From that small step, we grow as individuals in many ways.  Not just the break from the routine and stable life, learning creates the bridge to wisdom from experience.  It is easy to sit back and second-guess another’s decisions, but it is a true source of wisdom to speak from one who has learned through experience.

What is the true reason to understanding through the objectivity of our society’s big picture?  It is a simple act that we are greater when we move has a single entity. A nation focused on the problems can quickly shape the future with results.  In the 1950s, Eisenhower proposed an interstate highway system for the U.S.  It was mostly due to his experiences as a military leader when he learned that moving troops across the country was slowed by the lack of infrastructure.  As President, he gave the country one of the greatest infrastructure project and it was a key factor to the growth of the country at the time.

The nation moved as a community and shoved all the politics to the side.  We began to grow out of our ignorance and intolerance.  Our eyes were on the horizon and we eagerly wanted to shape the future to our liking. The sixties shaped our civil discourse in such a way that we soon begged to have more and more to do.  We lifted our eyes even higher and planted a flag on the moon’s surface.  We were unstoppable.

However, current feel of the country has lost that simple view of the world. It leaves most with their eyes lowered back to the sidewalk.  No horizon is seen.  The moon and beyond are all but forgotten.  The hint that we are on the edge of Armageddon occupies our minds.  Some even suggest that we would be better off with a global event leaving us without the things we have accomplished.  The philosophy has been created to forget fixing the problems or stopping other issues in favor of plan for the end of the world.  Neglect is the result of those that expect to see the end.  To these, there is no method or drive to fixing the world; there is no understanding in the macrocosm of the national and global scene.

For some, the question is why fix or clean it up because the end will come soon?  Why waste time, energy, and money fixing or preventing the problems?  So, if that is the thinking, then why waste time, energy, and money wiping your backside?  It will only be dirty again soon. No, it is time to take a few steps to return our minds to the gifts and resources that this world has provide rather than idly waiting for this world to be destroyed.  There is no reason to leave this world as a trash heap.  Be proud of it and make it better for those to follow.

crudus animus

A Touch of Compassion

In many ways, the overarching culture of consumerism in the US has created a horrific effect on the mindset of its citizens.  The daily need for each person to venture out into the market place and consume whatever passes before their eyes roots itself into the subtle philosophy guiding our society’s thinking.  That thinking begins to shape public opinion and policies to guide our community.  One such way is that the market should be free of any regulations or hindrances.  Another is the belief that all things including necessities like food and shelter should be earned through hard labor, even if it is for less than minimal pay.

Allow me to explain. We are growing divided by the feelings that each of us collects a salary and it is ours to hoard and spend as a reward.  The overlords have given the scraps off their tables and the underlings must scramble for the small rewards.  The rewards are immediately returned to the overlords to pay the bills and necessities.  As the underlings gain years of experience, some have the ability to hold back a part of their rewards in a nest egg.  These older underlings are able to see the brilliance from the world of the overlords, and, in turn, they do not feel the need to help or encourage the other underlings around them.  Instead, they like to speak of how this is their reward and they believe that others should work for their own.  The divisions grow and the populace is left distracted from the real problems.  It is just as the overlords want and they are happy to remain above the fray.

Today, I heard the most outrageous thing.  While discussing with a person about the obstacles of hiring qualified employees for the positions available, I mentioned something about the requirements of unemployment benefits.  It was a point that in order to receive the benefits that the person has to make efforts to acquire a job.  This means applications must be submitted several times during the week, which leads to many applicants that are not qualified for the positions. Yet, they are applying to fulfill the requirements of unemployment benefits.  This seemed to be a statement of fact and not political view. Unfortunately, it was not taken that way.

I knew that it was a conversation that I did not want to enter, but I felt that it was necessary.  The other person, a very staunch conservative, suggested that to fix this situation our government needed to simply remove the benefits of unemployment and other aid such as nutritional and monetary forms.  This would give the individuals two choices: find a job or turn to crime.  If they chose the path of crime, they were responsible.

I pointed to prisons being overwhelmed already and such a solution would increase the overpopulation and burden on the state.  The response was simply that those populations could be lowered with executions of prisoners within three days.  Now, giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, I did not assume that shoplifting for food would be a crime punishable by death, but this was my first experience with the hardcore belief where the solution was removing the social safety net as the right path.

So, I took myself out of the discussion and moved on.  There was no way that the workplace was the setting for entering a verbal debate over the irresponsible solution of someone claiming that others should be responsible for their own needs or become criminals.  I realize that the harsh conditions of the last few years have put a hard line between people, but to actually witness the inhumanity of this person’s solution was quite hard to stomach.

Since that moment, I have taken the opportunity to examine the details of the situations around me.  Often, I have wondered if we have not all lost our way in the very beliefs of our Western philosophies.  The struggle of the less fortunate to collect the small, sometimes less-than-the-minimum-to-live-on rewards holds the compassionate mind in complete shock. The pure selfishness of the very fortunate who have accepted their positions, which are often gained by privileged and opportune circumstances, engrossed with the idea that hard work was the key to success.  It is this simple fiction that spreads like propaganda to the less fortunate with the promise that they will one day taste the sweet success.  Those believing in this are forced to support the upper class and turn on their colleagues among the lower class.  Unfortunately, this is the very reason that the feudal systems of medieval times created a horrendous environment for progression of society.  We are sinking back into those terrible fashions and we must stop.

With all of this, I am brought back to a single thought.  As I view the writings of the New Testament to be a message of a philosopher and teacher, I turn those that believe that a society should not lift up the lower classes and poor to the words of that text.  Time and time again, the message brought by the sayings of this messenger is one of care and compassion for your neighbor.  The care of a fellow person is far more rewarding to the person and the world around than to reject such a need to someone.  I may not hold to the dogma and doctrine of the modern churches, but I feel that we are in a perfect situation to change this world for the better by simply showing compassion for those around us.

I know that this is starting to reveal itself in the recent debates in the US over immigration reform.  As aware as I am of the political reasons for this, it is good to see that finally we may be turning our eyes to the compassionate spirit within all of us.

crudus animus

Turning the Corner

I am back at the keyboard again and I am quite thrilled for the New Year. For those that have made some resolutions, I would like to offer my words of encouragement and extend to you all that I am right there with you.  This blog has been added back to my list of projects after a short time where it was on the cutting block.  It had become a voice for my thoughts for the several months.  It was my outlet to make it through some very difficult times with life. I was pleased with the effect.  In the end, I found the strength that I needed and the outlet to express it.  To my followers, it was an honor to have your voice and support.  The year ended with great prospects for the year and new challenges to face.  I know now that I can face them with a straight back because I have already overcome much due to the support here.  My thanks.

Now, let me explain one thing.  I had been tempted to stop this blog due to the fact that I have been invited, and paid, to use some of my artistic skills for a friend of mine.  To begin with, it will be very simple things, but it has the potential to grow into something far more productive that I have had in many years.  I have ached to produce something that will display my talents to the general public.  However, most of the time, I have failed to set aside the right amount of time for it or the energies have faltered.  In the end, I was forced to retreat.  This time, I will not let that happen.  I have a direction and it will come to a completion in the near future.

As much as I want the artwork to succeed, I decided to keep going with my writing and the expression of my thoughts. I moved some time around in my schedule to make it fit.  Now, I am back to my usual hum of productivity and slight agitation at the world’s foolishness.  I will be turning my eyes to the horizon, but this blog is a part of me now.  I can’t just let it go and I need it for the simple fact that I may need to work out some ideas in the coming days.

A last thought for today is a full explanation of the art that I will be working on. As part of an early career option, I once wanted to explore the area of illustration.  I wanted to sketch and create images to help give life to books and others forms of writing.  I had studied with the techniques of pencil, charcoal, pastel, and oil paints.  I tried my hand at other media such as watercolor and acrylic painting.  It allowed me to express a part of my being that was locked away.  I am now getting that chance.

A friend of mine that I have written about in this venue has asked me to join him in a venture where I will be doing cover art for novels which he will be writing.  It will be the eBook format with a print-on-demand option.  My artwork will be part of that package and help to promote and express his written vision. We have worked together on a few projects before, but this will be our first professional venture.  It will be a very exciting year ahead and worthy of the efforts.

I will likely be doing some of the art work through digital tools in order to refine it and prepare it for the final product.  Once the image is ready, I will be sharing some of the sketches with those that read here.  I am very excited about this move and will be happy to share it with you all.

crudus animus

Where the Beginnings Rise From Endings

With each of us, there lies a hint of what we are capable of.  It is what we have the potential for.  A resource for great things left for us to find a way to develop and use it.  Those that have the heart and will to shape these resources can create a better world around them and a better life for living.  Such resources are not passive or unlimited, but they are available for all to do something with. Each piece can turn into something positive if it is coaxed and cared for.  It can fall into a darkness of selfishness or neglect.  The choice is left to the individual.

In the last few weeks, as my first forty years come to a close, I have been pondering this very subject. As a young boy, I saw a world filled with great adventure and potential.  It was shaped by the upbringing that I benefited from. My parents gave me the tools to work through the challenges with all the genetic gifts that all children possess.  I craved to use those skills to become great and respected by my peers and family.  As I grew into my teen years, I had the same problems that all face, but I touched upon one thing that most did not consider important. I knew the future was greater with the education that was given. I excelled in all fashions in the academic areas.  Yet, as I looked around, it did not help to reap the great rewards and respect that I expected.

So, I made a few decisions as I left high school.  I knew that I wanted to be more than those around me.  I had the desire to learn, to study, but it met some of the greatest challenges of my life.  These were not life or death challenges, but personal achievements can become difficult if the world around you crumbles.  I took my eyes of the prize of my journey and failed to reach it.  By my third year of college, I was lost.  I did not have the answers that would fix my situation.  I retreated to a place of security with the hope of climbing back into the sunlight again.  Unfortunately, that place was not there.  My fall was long and hard.  I broke with the security of my family and found a new direction.

It was at this point that I turned my mind to founding my own place of stability and family.  For two decades, I had faced the world with the knowledge that if I failed, I would have a net to catch me.  I left that because it was a frayed net.  I wove a new net with the stable force in my life. My spouse and I did not always find our way, but our trials were early and hard.  We passed through them with the strength to face anything…even a life apart from family.

For the last two decades, I have searched with that companionship.  I found that my faith in my family would have to turn to something else.  The importance of a faith to worship faded as it was broken by those years at the end of my second decade. I will address my broken faith later, but for now, let it be said that I refocused my energies to understanding the world and its context.  I would not seek to follow something blindly because the answers were not my own. I needed my own answers.

Now that I have reached the end of my two decade quest, I believe that I have the answers that I needed.  I did not find the greatness or respect that most people do.  It was not the level that I expected as a young person.  What I found was that I still have a life left to go to find that reward. For now, I revel in the things that I have created.  A family can become the source of great support.  Children are a wonderful beacon for the future and the legacy that is left behind.  Friends are simply the icing on the cake.  I have great things, but I cannot settle for it.  It does not mean that I don’t appreciate these things, but my will and heart want to keep strive for the goal.  It is all to reach the end and be equal to those before.

Here is to the years to come and the next score of years be used to sharpen the mind and climb the mountain.  I will seek the summit and more if I can.

crudus animus

Defend the Free State

Recent events have conjured up thoughts about similar events of the past few years, which bring the conversation of gun control to the forefront. Each mass shooting that occurs brings the feelings of horror and fear. Horrific displays of violence that end with even a death are preventable. The sympathy for the victims and survivors in these situations is necessary and understood. The questions are overwhelming as to why any of this happened.  However, the greatest question is on the prevention of it happening.  How could we as a society avoided such unnecessary events?  How can we stop all deaths from gun violence?

The conversation has been avoided by most of the leaders as it is claimed that the time is inappropriate.  Yet, if we wait, then the moment of learning has past and all is lost in vain.  The talk of gun control needs to be held on all levels including the prevention of the societal issues that created the situation in the first place.

There is little argument that the gun is not to blame for the actions of the person. No gun will march out to a place and kill multiple people without someone to pull the trigger.  I would not say that the tool is the blame of the action, but it is the tool of the action.  Without it being in the possession of a willing individual, the matter will not happen.  Simply put, if you don’t give a carpenter a hammer to built, the house will not be built.

Guns have purpose in the hands of the wielder, so we must address the true issue of gun violence.  Two sides of this debate will forever twist and balance on the tip of the Second Amendment.  As citizens of the U.S., we all have this right as accorded in the Constitution.  Pause for a moment and read the exact words and understand the context of the words:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

These words have created debate upon debate without pause.  It has led to crucial and defining decisions in the Supreme Court which have shaped our current view from the original context.  There is no doubt that anyone can break this right down to support their view.  It is apparent in the large lobbying group, NRA, which never stops campaigning for the right to keep guns available to everyone.

However, let’s consider one point mentioned already. The wielder of the weapon is the one with the intent, and based on the environmental and societal effects on this person, it can move away from this right to bear arms among others in a well regulated militia very quickly. The Free State that requires security does need a well regulated militia that serves the people.  It is not for the individual to use as one pleases.  It is the individual right to have the weapon in the case of raise arms to protect, but the aggressor should never be defended with this right. It is purely a stance of defense.

Most news outlets and the sheep that follow along without thinking would have the populace believe that now is not the time for a discussion.  Waiting will only bring the next tragedy before the news covers it again.  This is wrong.  Shortly after President Reagan was shot and a member of his cabinet was struck in the head, a form of gun control came into the discussion and was passed into law.  It was not too early then.  When Gabby Giffords was shot in Tuscon, AZ, it was mentioned that gun control was being brought up too soon.  After the shootings in West Virginia and Aurora, we heard that it was all too soon to speak of gun control.  The victims are gone.  Families are wounded.  Lives are destroyed.  It is too late for this to be changed, but it is never too soon to wake up and fix this problem.  Regulate the guns by regulating the people who go to buy them.  The sense of the solution is bubbling over and it is time that we break through the horrific rhetoric of the media and lobbyists who cry “Too Soon!”

Enough…just fix the solution at its source before it is Too Late for someone else.  Protect the citizens by protecting the guns from aggressors.

crudus animus

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