Over this past year I resurrected one of my favorite pastimes: sketching portraits. Although I'm now taking commissions for personal requests, in the beginning I would only charcoal something if it evoked something within me--if it spoke something about me. And while I've completed some that speak of my best qualities, I've also done a few that speak of... well... my worst. That being said, I thought I'd share what I'm now calling my Wall of False Selves.
In case you didn't know, I currently have two desks in my study: one that I use when I'm inspired; one that I use when I need to be inspired. We can talk about the former another time. For now, this is about the latter.
This desk, the boring flat wooden desk, with it's slightly-too-perfectly shaped drawer nobs, and it's unnatural factory laden gloss, sits facing both a window to our front yard and a wall that I've been decorating with portraits of characters that I can see myself acting in in my worst days.
Now for a closer look into why I chose these specific portraits for this specific wall:
Numbers 1 & 2) Jules Winnfield and Lorne Malvo: They are cold, calculated, and analytical. They're detached from the effects of their actions, and sold on the notion that their missions of acting as prophets of truth, judgment, and justice were necessary for those around them.
3) Walter White: Hmmmmm... easily the most embarrassing for me to admit. He is a self-pitying, turned dead-inside narcissist. How did he get there? He saw the world as against him. From his perspective, his colleagues had advanced beyond him, his job took him for granted, and his family was unimpressed by him. This level of self-pity-turned-fuel-for-justifying-selfishness is sadly all too common in me.
4) Doc Holliday: Ohhhh, old Doc... Great wasn't he?! The man who was calm, collected, and always "right as the mail." So why Doc? Well, in a nut shell, he's the essence of the duck on water: calm up top, but pedaling to stay alive underneath. Although he was seemingly comfortable with his lone-wolf lifestyle, he was, in the end, lonely, even to the point of giving up anything and everything for friendship.
5) Daniel Plainview: The showman. The wordsmith. The salesman. A character who learned to apply a lifetime of dialogue and debate into speaking calmly to his adversary in order to ruffle their feathers, trigger them into acting "emotional", and then point out their unreliability. Sadly, a strategy of deflection I find myself using after it's too late.
6) Father Ferreira: Not that the others' weren't heavy, but Ferreira's story is a tragic one. He was so struck by the very real and present horrors he had encountered around him, that he lost his footing in what was true and real. His story shows what kind of chasm the wedge of loss and pain can create in a person's faith if not handled with both intentionality and delicacy. This is something that I can sadly tap into all too easily.
How about we end this on a lighter note, now! So why am I calling these false selves? In short, they aren't me. That is to say, they aren't who I truly am. They are false projections that I create/live in to protect what's going on on in the inside: fears, sadness, insecurities, embarrassments, etc.
I like to keep these at the forefront of my mind so I can remember how easy it is for me to go to these places. So, when I need inspiration, instead of chasing the luster of some previous momentum, I call it for what it is: a fork in the road. I may not always know the path to such inspiration, but I clearly know the one to folly, error, and pain. And as those false avenues stare at me when I'm at my desk, coercing me to journey back down their way, I face them, taking note of each one, so I can remember what it is I'm fighting against.