Friday, May 06, 2016

The Stalkers

Medium: colored markers and colored pencil.

The entire time I was working on this picture, I kept hearing the song Africa, by Toto, which was popular in 1982 and reached the top of the charts in 1983, in my head. I hummed it for 10 days while I worked at coloring this picture, doing it in tiny increments as time allowed.

I always liked the song. Some of the lyrics resonated with me, as they must have done with millions since the song was so popular.

My favorite lines?

"I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some long forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say, hurry boy, its waiting there for you.


"I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become."

The song is about love, and wanting, and needing to never be apart from the one that you love. "It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you," the song says, noting that a hundred men could not separate the lovers.

Something could, though. The song does not say "Nothing will ever drag me away from you," but instead that it would "take a lot" for the lovers to part. So there are boundaries there. And boundaries are good. It is not healthy to be so caught up in the life of someone else that you lose your own.

But back to those lines that I have always found intriguing.

Stopping that old man along the way, searching for something. I do that all the time, only I do not stop old men. I call up old friends, and new - I like to seek out other's opinions, thoughts, and ideas on issues of concern. That is one of the allures of social media, so many opinions, thoughts, and ideas. There are too many, though - they over stimulate. That is why the singer only asks one person, the universal symbol of knowledge, the wise man. Jungian psychology calls the wise man an archetype, something found in the collective unconscious.

We all recognize it - we all know without knowing that there are always wiser, smarter people out there. Some of us are scared and angry about this these days, so we flaunt our ignorance instead of seeking more knowledge. We do not ask the wise old man, we look instead for someone of equal ignorance to lead us along a familiar path while we resist change and newness with every step. We know this person will not get us to the airport, but he is familiar and comfortable, and we don't want to hear forgotten melodies anymore.

The singer seeks things he does not know, but also things that once were known. He is looking at the past to recreate a present. The wise man tells him he already knows and has what he needs - it's inside of him. She's also waiting for him at the airport.

And then there's that other line: I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become.

This has all kinds of implications, doesn't it? Is the singer unhappy with who he is? He is looking for a cure for what he has become - is that a lovesick young man, needy and wanting? Has he stopped dreaming and become a drone in an office somewhere, letting the desire for capital gain overcome his desires and hopes? And why does it scare him? Is it not acceptable? Has he turned into someone he did not expect?

I have been seeking to cure what's deep inside for as long as I can remember. I was born with an ache, I think, some kind of deep soul-cut that runs deep and long. I've had many people tell me I am an "old soul," and I know that is meant as a compliment. It means I have learned from living, from the things I have experienced, the world I have seen. It means I take little for granted and am constantly seeking more wisdom, more wise words, more of whatever it is that makes us human and whole. It means I have empathy and I feel the pain of the world sometimes. It means I am wise beyond my years.

The years, though, have caught up with me and now I should be wise, should I not? I've an old gray head, after all. Lots of white hairs to indicate that I have lived.

Too bad that few people seek out the wisdom of the elders anymore. The knowledge of the older generation is more valuable than all of the colors of the land, but it's a coin easily dropped in the African desert sands.

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