Vipassana & A New Year

Recently I completed a 10-day silent mediation course called Vipassana. During these 10 days you are not supposed to talk, gesture, touch, or look into the eyes of another human. In addition, books and writing materials are not allowed. Instead you live a simple monk-like existence and meditate 8 hours a day.

With a routine like this, there is nowhere to hide from yourself. No distractions to soothe the pain in your mind. From deep in the subconscious, thoughts bubble to the surface: thoughts which bring pleasure or discomfort, craving or aversion. Your job is only to watch these sensations ripple through the body and remain objective. Equanimous.

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To call it a mediation “retreat” would be misleading. It’s fucking work, and can be torture. There were times I wanted to yell in frustration at my wandering, neurotic, impulsive mind. Us humans like to think we’re independent agents with free will, when in fact we’re dominated by our conditioning and habitual thought patterns. Vipassana helped me understand this on an experiential level, and has given me the tools to affect change.

I really got to experience how all my suffering and unhappiness resides only in my mind. It’s not caused by any person or any situation. IT-IS-ONLY-IN-MY-MIND. The good news is: that’s also where an eternal spring of happiness flows, and all it takes to bathe in those refreshing waters is awareness, patience, and persistence.

The mind is also where creativity lives. If you can hush all your crazy bullshit, magic is there for the taking.

Needless to stay, I’m excited to see where things go from here. I feel like I’ve reached a turning point in my life… coinciding with the turning of the sun. (happy solstice!)

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Related:
Vipassana TEDx Talk
Learn More/Find a Course

Day Hike

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I was probing my mind for something light-hearted and silly to draw when my friend, Ashley, alleviated my consternation by offering this jewel based on a hike we’d had.

What’s not shown is me threatening her with the Poo Stick. I can be such a boy.

Redwood Refresher

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Dry lightning has sparked many wildfires in southern Oregon, and thick white smoke lies heavy and stagnant in the valleys, making even close mountains disappear from sight. My throat feels like coarse sandpaper, my lungs like dry paper bags. It was the pursuit of fresh pacific air that caused me to flee to the coast this weekend, and while initially it felt like an inconvenience, it proved itself a blessing.

The Redwood coast is my church. A place where worship flows out, yet I am filled. A place where time and eternity meet, and offer a new perspective. A place crudely depicted on my very own website banner, yet rarely visited in person. Thankfully I was smoked out of my comfort zone and reminded of this unique pagan temple, so close to home.

Rumi has been my morning companion for some time now, and he joyfully followed me into the forest, laughing in his mischievous way; he thanking I, and I thanking him. Rumi is a treasure trove of wisdom and arcane knowledge, and by spending time with him, I feel like my understanding is deepening. If the Bible is the Way of the Servant, the Bhagavad Gita is the way of the Warrior, the Tao Te Ching is the way of the Monk, then Rumi is the way of the Storyteller. It is also the Way of Devotion and Adoration. Rumi, steeped the Sufi tradition, speaks to me more than any other spiritual text I’ve encountered, and goes to show that spirituality need not be so damned heavy and serious. Like a whirling dervish, Rumi’s words fly off the page, playful, humorous, racy enough to make a prostitute blush. Not all translations are created equal, however. I highly recommend “The Essential Rumi” by Coleman Barks.

Ever since leaving my Corporate Life and pursuing the Artist’s Path, I’ve felt a tremendous amount of pressure to perform: to create something big, worthwhile, world-changing. And while that desire is indeed a God-given vehicle by which to move forward, too much of it causes paralyzing anxiety. Visiting the coast helped me gain perspective on Art in relation to Life.

Fact is, I’m not just an artist. I’m a son, a brother, a lover, a friend. I’m a community member, a volunteer, a worker, and an activist. There are many roles I play in life, and while “Artist” is important to me, it does not adequately define who I am. The clean pacific breeze whispered in my ear: being an artist is not a destination but a way of living, a lifetime journey. I could live to be five-hundred and still not “arrive” as an artist. Likewise, I can die without having created something world-changing and still have lived a great life.

Dallion Goes Viral — Off To Stumptown Comics!

Tumblr is a great site for artists to find and show art. I created one a little while back, and have posted a few doodles there that haven’t made the Blog. Anyhow, when I posted the “Renewal” strip I did a little while back, I was pleasantly surprised to see it get over 100 likes and re-blogs from complete strangers! It’s not 3 million hits on YouTube or anything, but was my first piece of art to “go viral”, as the kids say, and it was super encouraging and a good omen for my next adventure…

STUMPTOWN COMICS! I should actually be packing right now instead of blogging, but I just wanted to share a little bit of my excitement about this coming action packed weekend. In addition to Stumptown being my first comics convention, I’ll also be CouchSurfing the first time, and my hosts sound really awesome. I’ll be meeting them tonight at a Food Not Bombs dinner in a city park. I really can’t imagine a better (re)introduction to Portland. I’ll be bringing my bike with me and will use it as my primary mode of transportation in this bicycle friendly city. I’m sure I’ll get my ass lost about 836 times, but it will be a blast nonetheless. In addition to the convention itself, there will be great panels and workshops, comic art gallery tours of the city, pre and post parties, and even an avant garde comics performance. It’s going to be nuts.

I’ll be bringing a few samples of my art, but really my main goal is to meet a lot of great people and learn more about The Biz. Wish me luck!

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Girl Power! Part Two

A few months ago I blogged about my new favorite artists, all girls (possibly women). Well the trend has continued. I SWEAR TO GOD it has nothing to do with the fact they (presumably) have boobs. I don’t know why, but to me, the most exciting comic art out there is done by ladies. Maybe by the end of this post, you’ll agree.

Okay, geez, if you thought my art crush on Kate Beaton was bad, you should’ve seen my slack-jawed, eye-popped expression when I first stumbled upon Kelly Bastow’s website. In addition to fantastic illustrations, she has a wonderful selection of tiny-yet-powerful comics. kelly_bastow_1But her website only contains a fraction of her work — most of it is on her Tumblr. And now I will spam a bunch of her art because I love it. kelly_bastow_5 kelly_bastow_6 kelly_bastow_2 kelly_bastow_4 kelly_bastow_3 And that’s why I love her. Not only is her art a visual feast, but it comes from a deeply personal place, feels as honest as a confession, and has incredible emotional impact. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to the work of women. Not to discriminate against men or anything, but generally I think women are more emotionally sensitive. Emotion is what gets me off in comics. (she does the funny too)

Amazingly, Kelly is just a kid. All this talent has been self-developed, and only recently did she begin formal education (bet she’s the only kid in her art school with an agent). Tonight as I was drawing, I listened to Kelly doing her first podcast interview. She’s your stereotypical polite and demure Canadian, but during one part of the interview, she slipped and said something like, “… oh, one day when I’m rich and famous…”. To me, that’s all the more endearing. Magic people know they’re magic.

Next up we have the audacious Jess Fink. Jess is great because she’s proven you don’t have to be a boy to draw dirty pictures. And why hide those dirty drawings under your mattress when you can put them online and have a popular tale of “erotic robot romance”? Pro tip: don’t look at these unless you have some time on your hands.

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Jess also has a graphic novel coming out next month about time traveling to aid her younger self. Great concept, right?

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I follow her tumblr, and seeing her so excited to be holding a hard copy of her graphic novel, makes me tremendously happy and hopeful. Especially since she’s published by my publisher of choice. You can preview the first seven pages, and preorder here.

 Noelle Stevenson has a huge following, and recently won Slate magazine’s $1000 “best online comic” prize for her comic, Nimona. Another art school kid with an agent and a book deal. sigh.

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And finally (because it’s getting late, and even being a fanboy gets old), there’s Stephanie Pepper. Take a look at her comic strip about a fruit cup, and you’ll be a fan too. Plus this: 

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Girls be putting us out of business. Time to step up the game.

Live where you Love

This is a doodle I made after returning home from a hike with friends. I play up the misanthrope hermit thing because he’s my character. But truly I live an active life and feel like a well-connected thread in the fabric of our community. Someone once told me: in a healthy community, you can be alone but not lonely. Often I think about how true that is, and it spurs me to become more involved.

I am so thankful for community, and for mother-nature, who inspires me daily. Indeed, I love where I live.