On Wheels: Progression and Its Orbit.

I bought tires for my car last month. The drive now down the street, out of the city, to my hometown are all smoother. In the car political news podcast play, my brother talks to me about what new crisis is occurring I respond (yell) back.  I can't help but think of the tires underneath us. The constant circular movement, the revolutions around and around its' axis. With each new cycle of rotation the car pushes us a few inches forward and closer to some final place. 

 My partners car has been in several wrecks, she calls me in a panic one time after drifting in a turn lane, her wheel and axel have been pushed back. The car has stopped its revolutions, stopped its cycles. We watch as it's pulled up and away on the back of some other thing bearing the weight.  I wonder if there's any similarities between these and our lives. 

Two years or so again I began biking around Austin. I would blast music and bike up and down hills on my way to and from work. I would wake up in the morning and make my way to work. I would work all day, eating lunch alone at the same spot on campus, and then I would bike home. I would fall asleep after eating and binge watching some show or another. I would drink.

In between being at work and being at home, I would be out on my bike blaring music and riding. A lot of the time it was the same circle, down the same streets to a certain point, rest, relax, then head back up again. This path was meditative, predictable and certain yet new each time. Every time I moved down the road I would encounter some new thought, a new obstacle, a new path to push through. And each time I headed up the road back to the start I would push through even more thoughts, push through breaths, push through pain in my calves and tiredness in my body. It would remind me that I was here right now, in between this work life and home life I was here. 

I was hit by a car in December. In my jacket listening to Bill Callahan I rode down the same road on the way back from lunch. A car pulled out infront of me and I went over the hood. My blood pressure was through the roof when they checked me out, my leg was messed up scars and blood. My back was ok, and my head was too. The EMT's and Police seemed scared. 6 people gathered around me to ask me multiple times if I was ok. They tapped my back and spoke slowly. 

I remember being hit, and I remember cursing, I remember the feeling of knowing you can't avoid this, that in that split second you will either be ok or not. I remember the thud of the metal and the feeling of my legs burning with pain my jeans all ripped to shreds. I remember climbing home and laying on the floor. I remember crying alone in my apartment for the first time in a year, through all of the heartbreak and loss, through all of the things going on in my life. For the first time I sat down and cried. 

Progression moves in this way to me. These cycles of up and down, fluid movements of life that are followed with an equally fluid movement down. Peaks followed by Valleys. Our own lives move with this frightening idea, ups followed by downs that we can't predict. And we do what we can to preserve the good times, to solidify a life of stability and comfort that will keep the ups continuous. 

It struck me that night that cycles are only broken by impact, that the natural course of objects is to stay in motion (not revolutionary I know), and that we move through the same cycles over and over again until some sort of pressure is exerted on us. In the case of the car the foot on the break, in the case of my bike, a foot on the gas. And oddly enough those cycles are acted upon by other people's cycles. 

I've thought of a lot of my relationships in terms of orbits. That is that all these relationships with people I have and make are just orbiting cycles, they move in and out and occasionally they sync with each other. In some cases this sync results in something nice. Like the syncing of a schedule that results in two friends taking vacation. In other cases, like being hit by a car, the syncing of two schedules that results in harm.  I've been trying to do what I can to live out these cycles in the most understanding way I can, I've been trying to understand that people need to leave your life and move in different directions. And for the last few years this has become apparent, friends who have moved on to different cities, family members who've passed, jobs that have changed, relationships that have become more serious, relationships that have died out. These actions move in cycles turning over and over, the people in our lives move in and out like planetary systems orbiting and revolving, rotating around their own axis. 

In art i'm obsessed with these periods, how we can have growth and decline, periods of feeling unproductive and worthless, met with periods of great burst of energy. A professor of mine compared it to a river how we want to be something that moves with the time and doesn't fall down and stay put. It's interesting to me that in the modern age relevancy can drop and grow at will. A resurgence of radio was preceded by its decline. Book sales have gone through the roof lately preceded again by a period of slow growth.

I've been trying to see how the destruction and breaking down of processes and life can lead to the creation of new things, better things. That only when we hit a breaking point and an impact point can our cycle continue into something newer and better. That we have to examine our place and decide if the path we were taking is worth the risk of hitting that impact point again. 

Surely this election has exemplified that point for better or worse, the need to change the way we perceive the things around us. What raw aggression and anger lead us too. I've been thinking this in terms of cycles of personal life, or rather the wheel of things(1) that turns our life. The idea that we are led down the path of life because of our inability to rid ourselves of things like anger and jealousy. That enlightenment (or a new path) only comes through understanding and compassion. 

I'm interested in the context of rebuilding american ideals, ideals pushed by a majority white majority male voter base. While the infrastructure of our entire collective society is built completely by the minority hand. Biking through Austin streets to see construction and buildings and worksites that will soon be dominated by white male employment being built almost completely by a majority minority hand. It's hard to ignore that the path of our society led by Trump (and the republican GOP) is one that is ignorant to the very working power of society. And is this ignorance the thing that continually leads to our breaking point? 

The head of marvel recently asserted that it was diversity that was killing comics, although the best rated best selling publications are all those with minority representation the belief was still held that the need to diversify was creating a destruction in the base.  The same idea came to an impact in the American election (Though seemingly rejected in French and German Elections) That the diversity of our country was leading to a destruction point. 

Now that point has occurred and we are closer than ever to an impeachment like ideal, will the result be a change in how we view the world around us and what we want and should want as a collective society. Should we give any credit to the destructive force? Should I think the car that hit me? Should we congratulate people who broke our hearts? Should we parade cancer for taking those from us? 

In art i've been thinking about these ideas, been trying to think of what work can do to represent these ideas, for some its the process and the material, for others imagery and subject matter. For me I don't really know what it is, or why i'm making, but i'm trying to look at everything together around me and make something that seems meaningful and relevant.

The night I was hit by that car, after the crying, after the sitting alone, after talking to my mom, I was sitting at home alone. I was struck for the first time the complete emptiness of an apartment when you have no one to turn to. I was just starting to see my partner then, and I had been (and arguably am always) dealing with past relationships, and I had this nagging thing in the back of my mind telling me I should run. That night she came over with snack food and Advil. She brought nice ice cream and junk food and bandages. It was all goofy stuff that helped a little and made me feel better. But one thing she brought was flowers. It was odd then that I was so excited about flowers but I had never been gifted anything like that by a partner. As I sat on the table that night and drew the petals on a small sketchbook, my Red State  series started. And with it a new way of thinking about art and life took hold. 

I still ride my bike now, to and from work, I've lost 13-14 pounds in the last 5 months or so, I watch out for cars and have gotten better at breathing. The muscles in my legs have grown, my stomach has shrunk. I still blast music, I still glide down hills and struggle up them. I still make the cycle back and forth, back and forth. I hope another impact won't occur, I grip my handlebars tight at some intersections. 


  1. This is a way uneducated view of a complicated and complex religious/cultural point of view that should be studied completely, in no way am I asserting that I understand anything about it but rather using it as a platform for discussing cycles in one particular sense.