Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
After spending the whole decade of
my twenties living in an isolated cabin drinking and reading Nietzsche and
trying to write novels and getting madder and madder at the world and feeling
sorrier and sorrier for myself, I realized, at some point in the last year
or so, at the age of thirty-four, that I had no real problems. Within the
last two or three years my life has actually been good; I was getting my cartoons
published, I had a lovely, kind, and sane girlfriend, and I was behaving myself
a little better. I was no longer depressed. It seemed too good to be true,
a tenuous state of mind that would surely disperse at the slightest snag.
I figured that if I ever lost my cartooning gig or broke up with my girlfriend
I'd instantly be back to sitting in a lawn chair in front of a space heater
on my living room floor, sneering at Charlie Rose and eating stale popcorn
out of a gigantic three-pound bag.
Except then, about two months ago, I woke up with my left shoulder (which
had been broken over a year ago and never healed correctly) feeling like it
had come apart in the night and my arm numb down to the fingertips. I have
written at length about this pain in another artist's statement, so let's
just suffice it to say that for a guy who purports to take pain as the main
theme of his work I turned out to be a big sissy about physical pain. I will
take good old emotional pain over physical pain any time. It left me unable
to enjoy anything and caused me to despair over things that would normally
only have been frustrations or disappointments.
And it occurred to me that maybe those two or three years had been it: the
only untroubled part of my life, my one narrow window between the emotional
instability of youth and the physical decrepitude of old age--the window I
labelled "Enjoy!" in this drawing. Because let's face it, the decrepitude
is only going to get worse from here. Oh, the shoulder feels better now, and
I've scheduled surgery to fix it, but something else is inevitably going to
go wrong, some chronic injury or illness, and based on my reaction to those
few weeks of discomfort I can tell I'm not going to bear up with any courage
or dignity at all. I'm going to become one of those old people who complains
ceaselessly and in unpleasant detail about his symptoms and medications and
is generally surly and self-pitying and resentful of the young.
Hence the chart. Just a big bring-down for everybody. Sorry.