anger, control and being fluffy…

anger squirrel

Anger.  We’ve all been there…sometimes multiple times within a few minutes.

What is anger?  Someone cutting you off… an unfortunate situation that didn’t necessarily have to be unfortunate… not thinking… thinking too much… thinking too much about the wrong thing.  Anger is the result of all of that.  But no one ever really goes too deep into the real cause… why?  Because when someone is angry, they don’t look for explanations… they just want to be angry.

I’m going to say that again because I like the way it sounds when I read it to myself… they just want to be angry.

And why not?  It gets your blood pumping, raises your pulse and heartbeat and, in some cases, makes thinking clearer and focused.  Most of those things, in other situations, would be a good thing, right?

I think anger is the result of one thing: loss of control.  I’m angry a lot.  For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why… then it hit me.

Literally.

I was hit with half an orange.  Luckily it wasn’t that juicy so it didn’t hurt that much.  Getting hit with produce made me angry.  I was angry that I didn’t see it coming.  I was angry that someone would be a dirtbag and litter.  I was angry that it was deliberate and not a random act of idiocy.  Because I had no control over any of that, I was angry.  If I had control over at least some of those components, the result may have been different.

Maybe.  If it wasn’t me hit, it would’ve probably been someone else.

Anger is loss of control.  End of story.

what achieving balance really means…

achieving balance

I spend a lot of time in the branches of trees.  I don’t necessarily like hanging out in trees, it’s mostly a biological thing.  I also spend a lot of time balancing on power lines.  Without attention to my balance, I can easily turn hanging out into squirrel pie.

From way up here, you get the entire picture.  I see things that no one else can see.  I can see a lot of things you don’t think anyone sees you doing.  I see decisions made, both good and not so good… I see progress and retreat, beginnings and conclusions.  Through it all, I have to maintain my balance.

I see the big picture, but the details… those pesky little things… not so clear… more on that in another post.

There are a million self-help thingies out there that say balance is the key.  Without balance, all is chaos.  I say the easiest way to find your balance is to put something important at stake.  If there is a chance you could lose that something you’d be amazed how fast that elusive balance will show itself.

Balance is a good foundation… in my case, it’s my tail.  For the longest time I hated my tail.  It followed me wherever I went.  The only time it was really useful was when I couldn’t find a napkin.  I never realized how important that thing was to my balance… until one day when I almost became squirrel pie.  I learned pretty quick…and I’m still learning.

Find balance… or become squirrel pie.  It’s that simple.

In praise of the sideways struggle…

the sideways struggle

Look outside.  Is it what you though it could or would be?  Did you have some input into what you’re currently looking at?  Have you had to struggle just to get to what you’re looking at?

We all have those struggles…some to a higher or lower degree than others, but they’re there.  I have it pretty easy now, but it wasn’t always this way.  A squirrel’s life outside a cartoonist’s world is the number one definition of struggle.  Before I adopted Frank, I was eating where, when and what I could, sleeping where and when I could, dodging all kinds of things that wanted to eat me and just trying to survive.

Some days were better than others… but I didn’t exactly have too much to compare “better” to.  Struggle would have been a good day for me.

I don’t regret having to go through what I went through.  It’s taken the mist of time to help me realize how important that struggle was for me.  I may not admit it outwardly all the time, but I am grateful for what I have…and for what I steal from Frank.  I have an appreciation that wouldn’t have been there had my early days been fresh linen blowing in the breeze.

Maybe, in a way, I am suggesting that everyone needs to suffer a bit.  Not a lot, just to the point of being uncomfortable.  How do you know you have it good, if you’ve never had it bad?

Perspective, following and re-tiling the floor…

bob's perspective

Perspective is everything.

I was watching Frank install tile on the floor.  He pulled all the the molding off the walls, removed all the old carpet and carpet padding…revealing the original bare floor hibernating for nearly 60 years.
He properly cleaned the floor, applied a primer for the adhesive…allowing everything to rest and dry… just like the instructions said.

Before you begin to lay tile, you have to draw a line on the floor.  THis line is your reference line.  It is there to make sure your tile stays straight.  It’s your map…the destination being the other side of the room.

“I’ll just use the line that’s already there.” There was tile on the floor at one tim, but Frank removed it.

So, he’s going to use someone else’s line to tile.  It started off fine, but by the time he got to the end of the hallway, his tiles were off… just by a fraction of an inch.  Not so much to rip it out, but just enough to know he was off.

There are a few things to learn from this… laying tile is hard work.  You should always be wary of following a path established by someone else.  What if it leads you astray?  What if the person you were following was following someone else?  What if THEY were off?  Now you’re off twice as much.

Constantly check your alignment.  Even if it seems you’re on a straight path, check it anyway.  A millimeter in the beginning can turn into a mile at the end.

Everytime he looks at those tiles, he’ll remember this.  Then, it gets covered up with carpet.

Lies, truth and the end of believing…

lies truth and what you see...

Without a score, how do you know who wins?  What is the truth?

I know, pretty heavy, right?

There really isn’t such a thing as a universal truth anymore.  If I was standing next to you and we saw a yellow balloon floating past us in the sky, I can almost guarantee that our recounting of the event would be different.  I personally don’t like the color yellow… so that dislike would probably color (sorry) the story that I tell.  You, on the other claw, may have an unnatural obsession with lemons… and this issue with citrus would probably make you tell a different story.  So… what’s the truth?

They both are.  We see what we see and then our little brains (mine brain is smaller…but it’s not about the size, it’s how you use it) process that visual through the memory banks of our past experiences.  Those experiences, good or bad, add spice to the visual.  You and I may have sent a potato into the kitchen, but yours came out french fried and salted… mine came out mashed covered in bacon and cheddar cheese.  Both are potato… just different flavors.

Truth absolute… is a figment.  Deal with it.

Life is like a squirrel…

life is like a squirrel...bob the squirrel

There’s not a whole lot of explaining needed with this one.  Everyone wonders what life is… and what life is like.

I mean, how can you compare something to itself?  It kind of negates the whole meaning of compare, doesn’t it?  Comparing assumes that there will/should be a difference between the two, three, twenty-seven things being compared.  When it all comes down to it, we’re all pretty much the same.  Some of us have tails, some of us have things that we have to deal with.  So deal with it, right?

Art in the Italian market deli…

bob is art...art is bob

does the wall a piece is on determine if it is art?  for that matter, does the building the wall is in add weight to the determination?

so, something funny happened this weekend.  in reality, something happens nearly every minute around here…not necessarily funny ha ha all the time, sometimes funny in a i-just-took-a-gulp-of-rancid-orange-juice-and-didn’t-know-it sort of way.

frank drew a picture of someone.  i know, you’re totally shocked, right?  stay with me.  after he drew the picture, he gave the picture to the person he drew IN the picture.  in this case, it was a neat cartoonish caricature of a local merchant we frequently do business with.  once the merchant saw the unexpected gift, his face lit up…the staff around him lit up…everyone who hadn’t been smiling smiled— because of a piece of art.

yeah, i said it.  a piece of art.

the merchant said he would get the piece framed and hang it right behind his deli counter— on a wall near his meat slicer.

after all the thanks were exchanged and we left, frank said something that made me like him a little bit more than i did before.  he said, “my work hanging on that man’s wall means more to me than if it were hanging in any museum or gallery.  more people would probably see that in one day than a month in a museum.”

now, call it arrogance…call it sarcasm… call it whatever… he meant that.  i think because he knew that people would appreciate his work, would be entertained by his work and would feel better because they saw his work…while patiently waiting for their pound of hard salami.  everyone could understand it.  that’s not to say that the same piece wouldn’t get the same response if it were in a gallery, but it probably wouldn’t.

i suppose a cut out cartoon on a refrigerator or bulletin board satisfies frank much more than being in a gallery.  i can respect that.  it’s not that one means more than the other, it’s all about comfort…ease of inclusion.

great, now i have a craving for salami.

Internal conflict between need and want

life wants

I thought this might be a good time to talk about an oldie, but a classic to me.  I say oldie, this image was posted by Frank on July 28, 2012.  We worked on this one together… I think there was about as much of him in this one as there was of me.  We often talk about the difference between need and want.  Usually, the conversation goes something like this:

“Frank, I need this.”
“Will you cease to exist without it?”
“No?”
“Then, you don’t need it, you want it.”

I usually end up calling him a bad name under my breath and I walk away.

I think many of he items listed in the illustration are things that would cause a cease to existence.  On the other tail, the things listed are what keep us getting up in the morning or in a cold sweat late at night.  We all want a do-over, we all want guidance, we all want to know if what we did was right.  Thing is, if what we did was confirmed to be right, it would have to be compared to something that was wrong, right?

Basically, this illustrations is this: whining about why you shouldn’t waste too much time whining.  The more time you waste whining, the less time you have to try and figure it all out.

Th only “wrong” thing on this list is the bit about the duct tape.  It has been scientifically proved that duct tape can in fact fix everything.  If you don’t want to take my word, or the word of a gaggle of scientists’ words for it… go out right now and break something.

Oh, wait. Make sure you have some duct tape first.  Once you have the duct tape, break something… I’m pretty sure that whatever you did, as long as it was legal, can be fixed with duct tape.

But what do I know, I’m just a squirrel.

What is SQUIRRELOSOPHY?

squirrelosophy lifeThere comes a point in a creator/creation relationship where the line  blurs.  It could be a really bad thing…but maybe not.

In the Bob the Squirrel comic strip, I have literally mined my daily existence for material.  Long time readers are well aware of my willingness to put everything, good, bad or embarrassing right in the strip.  10 years of ups and downs…almost 4000 comic strips…

But I wanted to do something more.  Bob wanted to do something more.  He has a unique perspective on being in the world.  How could you not have a unique perspective being only 13 inches tall (on tippy-toes)?  HOw many opportunities does one get to hear the musings of a squirrel?

In April 2012, I started drawing an extra panel of bob and posting on bobthesquirrel.com.  I had all these other ideas for things Bob could say that just wouldn’t fit in the daily strip context.  I didn’t think anything of it, really…they were just fun to do.  But then something happened… the ideas started flooding into my brain.  Sometimes, faster than I could even write them down or draw them.  It’s one of those situations dudes like me pray to be in.  Inspiration overload.

There were days where I would post three or even four panels.  No sooner were they drawn, they were posted.  The production level was addicting…and it showed no signs of slowing down.  Readers seems to dig the little extra Bob in their day.

So, what else could I do?  I was in danger of having the one-off panels taking over the strip.  I was concentrating more on the panels than on the strip that got me there.  There had to be a division.  A clear cut difference between the strip and Squirrelosophy… a name that seemed appropriate.  Once the name was determined, I decided to put my one college semester as a philosophy major to good use.  In addition to shareable images of your favorite sarcastic squirrel, you’ll get a little running commentary about the image… and maybe a few life lessons and assignments.

Bob of course, is way smarter than me.  You’ll see.

Is it more work?  Yes.  Is it more of an investment?  Yes.  Is it a labor of love?  Yes.  Will you like it?  I don’t know…but Bob and I are having fun finding out.

give up and giving down…

trying and results

if at first you don’t succeed, give up and don’t worry about it.  you know why?  neither do i.

what’s the point of trying when you automatically think that you’ll not make it?  wouldn’t it be easier to just chill and watch every other fly on the wall fall off onto the sticky paper?  i’m not saying there are a lot of flies where i live, i’m just saying.

don’t you think that would get old after a while?  giving up before you try?  i’m out on the street slugging it out every day.  well, that’s not really true either, but being an inspiration to a cartoonist isn’t exactly an easy gig either.  you want to see a guy try and fail, you need to hang out with him.  he’ll tell you a thing or ten about failing and giving up.  i think he only gave up once.  i think what kept him from doing it again was that he got really bored.  even if you try, fail and give up… at least it keeps you busy.

then we can talk about luck.  luck is a big factor.  luck can take a dumb thing and make it popular. luck can make a bad play a game changer.  luck can change the world and rewrite history.  the one thing luck can’t do is be predictable.  you can’t depend on luck… at all… no matter how many horseshoes you have in your pocket.

what is “normal”?

bob the squirrel's normal squirrelosophy

i really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really dislike, oh, i’ll just say it… HATE the word “normal”.  there’s just something about it that makes my fur crawl…literally crawl.  i have pictures, i’ve seen it crawl.

normal means that there has to be something that is not usual.  by and large, it’s supposed to apply to something that is universal over a wide area.   if we were to accept that there was no normal, i think we’d all be somewhat better off for it.

i understand that the concept of normal must exist.  without it, products could not be advertised…nothing ideal could or would be sold.  if there were no normal wouldn’t be any promise out there of something “better”.

what do i know?  i’m just a “normal” talking squirrel.  that is my concept of that word.  it’s not universal… only to me.  wanting to banish the word  isn’t exactly normal to someone else.  probably a good indication that i will not win.

although, we could replace the word normal with the prefix “finefor”—like “fineforyou” or “fineforme”…all it needs is a pronoun to work. squirrelosophy is more apt to embrace this word rather than that other word.

maybe i just need an extremely long squirrel nap.