30 Day Challenge – Day 7

“Who is…?” Stream of consciousness assignment. Whatever comes to mind. Start with “Who is <yourname>?” and just ramble. After that “What are <yourname>’s dreams?” Ouch.

This one is pretty hard. You’ll note, I’ve placed the “show more” break above. That’s because, at some core level, the person who Benjamin is: 1. doesn’t think folks will be interested in hearing the answer; 2. isn’t comfortable with giving the answer to the general public. Benjamin isn’t comfortable being that exposed. He distrusts his fellow human beings. Experience and observation have taught him that there’s a whole lot of folks out there who, given an opening, will tear him down. Benjamin was a geeky kid. He got bullied. He didn’t fit in. To this day, he still doesn’t feel like he fits in. It’s very hard for him to join groups. It’s very hard for him to trust others. He’s always looking for the hidden blade, the double meaning. He’s a pessimist about human nature.

That’s hard to say, but there’s an under current there. Benjamin’s proud of that isolation. He’s come to value it. He sees a society who’s values don’t reflect his own and he wants no part of it. He’s built ego and esteem structures based on that separation. When that separation get’s threatened, he feels threatened and exposed. He’s fond of saying “talking monkeys,” separating himself from the fact that he’s one of them. He’s had experience of falling into their mean spirited games and he’s desperate not to let himself do so.

Benjamin doesn’t like to define himself at all. Specifically not by his roles. He can’t help doing it, but he doesn’t like it. In this recent crisis, the unemployment crisis, the transition to a working artist crisis, he’s continually applying value judgements to himself. Benjamin doesn’t think that he’s done enough to prepare. He thinks that he should have been working harder, that he should have been more ready. Each time he thinks this, he gets more tired and more depressed. They’re poison, these thoughts.

Some part of Benjamin feels proud that he was able to support his family for so long. Benjamin grew up in a very chaotic environment. Parents split pre-adolescence, and Benjamin internalized that the world falling apart is the natural order of things. He came to manhood in a house that was falling apart. Benjamin’s father taught him to work as a means to an end. You trade time for money for life. The only value of the work was in what it enabled you to do, care for your family. Benjamin’s father was a caregiver, for any and everyone he took into his circle, even to his father’s own detriment. Benjamin watched this and internalized another split. Caring for others is what he admires about his father and hates about his father. He’s emulated him (his father) in that. He worked for twenty years in a trade he didn’t enjoy, doing exactly what his father did. He worked the job to pay the bills to support the family.

Benjamin is very concerned with doing the right thing. He’s very concerned that his choice to pursue being an artist and an animator will injure his family. He’s concerned about being selfish and myopic. He worries about this. This gnaws at him continually. He doesn’t consider himself driven like other artists, but he his driven. He’s just not driven by the need to create art. He’s driven to do the right thing. It sits on his back like a heroin addict’s monkey. He’s not comfortable with anyone sacrificing for him. He’s not comfortable being the receiver of help. He wants to be the helper.

Benjamin has some strange desire to show this material to his family and friends. This desire to “perform” this. Like this is a stage play. An act. Image’s of Shiva/Kali, the terrible faced goddess pass through his head. All this fear, insecurity, terror, all the goddess’s face, all a reminder. This is not real, this is not core. This is an act, this is maya. Part of what Benjamin learned growing up is a whole melange of eastern philosophy and mysticism. When he starts to fall off the deep end into one of these worry sessions, this material rises up and puts the breaks on. It gives him a moment’s peace. Gives me a moment’s piece. All that desire to do right, still Desire, with her hooks in you. One more thing to be let go.

I mentioned that Benjamin doesn’t like to be defined by roles, but in the vein of the last statement, “Benjamin” is a role. Benjamin is a story, a story about a struggling middle aged man, with aspirations to be a recognized artist in his society, who’s not sure how to accomplish that end. That’s his elevator pitch, in a nutshell. Would you watch that show? I don’t know either. I guess, I would. I do… every day.