What It Is

After a really wonderful morning (a running session, a walk over to the farmer’s market, a stroll home while eating a vegetable empanada, the breeze blowing and the sky almost entirely clear), I’ve found myself with a distinct lack of energy. I suspect the number of early mornings this week (including having to be up in Emmitsburg, MD by 8:30am yesterday, ugh) has finally caught up with me. (Which also kind of stinks because I have a birthday shindig on the calendar tonight and I don’t know if I have the energy to go.)

So I’ve been sitting home and reading Lynda Barry’s brand new book What It Is for the fourth or fifth time this week and it’s amazing how much this is resonating with me. I loved her book One Hundred Demons (it suddenly opened my eyes to what an amazing writer she is) but What It Is goes above and beyond that, talking so much about creativity and imagination and how we often self-censor ourselves. There’s a page in which she’s talking about how she started changing her behavior around other people, that really struck me.

By the 6th grade I stopped doing ordinary things in front of people. It had been ordinary to sing, kids are singing all the time when they are little, but then something happens. It’s not that we stop singing. I still sang. I just made sure I was alone when I did it, and I made sure I never did it accidentally. That thing we call “bursting into song.” I believe this happens to most of us. We are still singing, but secretly and all alone.

And that’s when it suddenly hit me that it’s one of the things I love so much about Charlie. I don’t think he ever censors himself that way. When he and Julie and I drove down to the Outer Banks Marathon, within about 30 seconds of us all being in my car he’d suddenly burst into song, and I remember Julie saying something along the lines of, “Oooh, this is going to be a fun ride.” And I always groan a lot when he does it, but you know what? I really rather envy his being able to do so, and most of the time it makes me smile.

Anyway, I’ll have a review of What It Is run later this week on Read About Comics, but I’m going to give everyone a sneak preview right here: BUY THIS BOOK. I suspect it’s going to be my favorite book (drawn or otherwise) of the entire year. It’s about creativity, and ourselves, and the world around us, and everything in-between, and it’s fantastic.

3 thoughts on “What It Is

  1. Susan says:

    Ah, that brings tears to my eyes. Self-censorship sucks, and I am always reveling in my nephews un-self-consciousness in movement and sound and laughter and other emotions. Thank you for sharing this. I want to meet Charlie even more, now!

    I am glad it isn’t too late to undo some of these things. So liberating! So helpful to have someone wonderful in your life to support your unwrappings…!

  2. Steve Lieber says:

    Couldn’t agree more about Lynda Barry. It’s hard to imagine a more inspiring storyteller in any medium.

  3. Tuffy says:

    Charlie sounds wonderful … some people make this world a far better place simply by virtue of their exuberance for life.

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