While I've made a lot of progress on making my next comic, I've only got one panel done so far, and it's kinda hard to tell a story with each comic being only one panel. :P
I don't really have the time to spare to be doing a webcomic at the moment, to be honest, so quite frankly, until I get much faster at doing my art, and/or I have more time to work on my comic, updates will come whenever I can get 'em, regrettably.
On the bright side, I have some good fanart!
So right now, I feel the need to elaborate on a comment I made in my links page. When talking about Mag-Isa, I said that I'm not religious, but I am spiritual. This comment might confuse some people, but I can pretty much tell you right here and now, that the two are not one and the same. You can be religious and not very spiritual (though this is quite rare), just as you can be spiritual and not very religious. That's because religion covers specific beliefs, such as Christianity, whereas to me, spirituality is more the underlying themes which are present in most religions. Belief in some fundamental ideals.
Basically, being spiritual covers the metaphorical sides of things, the underlying, the subtle, the subconscious elements of the beliefs. I could go on all day about the details, so I'm not sure how well I can explain it to you. However, basically, I believe in all the things of a religious person...but in a more general, undefined, broad scope, rather than the relatively-narrow perspective any specific religion would give me. To put this in perspective...
-I keep an open mind to all religions. I prefer not to reject any belief out-of-hand, no matter what claims it makes, simply because most religions do have some spiritual side to believe in, rather than just the literal texts. Common themes, for instance, tend to include forgiveness, kindness, respect for all things, and love, to name just a few. I could elaborate, but I think you get the picture. The words aren't what's important; the message is what is. (To give an example--even to a non-religious person, I imagine The Bible would be a great piece of literature, because it gives underlying themes of humanity and inspires a sense of hope. I haven't personally read The Bible all the way through, but I'd love to some day do so, for that reason.)
-I believe in the concepts. The strongest of these I can think of is the concept of a higher power. I may not believe in God specific to, say, The Bible, but I believe in the concept OF God, that there is a force greater than humanity, and that this force guides us in subtle ways. Quite simply put, it'd be arrogant to think that humans are the ultimate beings, so really, there MUST be SOMETHING greater than us. We may have several powers of gods, and in our own creative realms (for instance, me of The Descended), we can be gods (I'm the creator of The Descended. If the World of Soano was as real as I imagine it to be, then I'd be its ultimate creator, its God of gods, so to speak), but in real life, we're nowhere close to godhood. We're simply mortal beings, who in the grand scheme of things are quite fragile.
So I believe that there's a force greater than us, because otherwise, we'd be the top of the chain. What of the argument, however, that "if there's a higher power, why is the world in such a sorry state?"? Well, again, I believe things aren't quite that obvious. If there's a higher power guiding our actions, then it'd do something more subtly. You can't ask for divine intervention to save you. Ultimately, it will be your own actions which help yourself. That doesn't mean a higher power plays no part, that it's all you, but I do believe in this--that sometimes, the higher power's way of helping is letting yourself help you. There have been times, where I felt lost and was beginning to lose help, feeling desperate. I knew that I couldn't wait for help, since the only one who could help me is myself...yet still, I prayed for help, anyway, to be guided in any way I could, and when those prayers truly mattered, when it was something I truly desired and wanted to fight for, I found the answers I was looking for within myself. Easily something you can write off as coincidence, but I choose to believe that it was my prayer being answered.
Everyone has desires, everyone has wishes, and I believe (as silly as it might seem) that the higher power does what it can to subtly grant these dreams reality. To me, this is closely tied to another concept:
The difference between "fate" and "destiny". To me, they are not synonyms. I firmly believe that we are in control of our own lives, that we control our own fate. We make ourselves. We can take an infinite number of turns in our lives, go in any direction, have multiple outcomes. Yet the path we ultimately choose, the fate we decide for ourselves, what eventually becomes our life as a whole...is our destiny. We have the choice to do things one way or the other, and in some alternate universe with a different destiny, we choose the other, but in this destiny, this universe, we choose the one we do.
It may or may not make sense, but I think you can understand the basic concepts, as silly and idealistic as they may seem. And how easily I can tie the concept to that of a higher power, because I believe the two are linked. Ultimately, we control our lives, both through the bad and the good, but I believe that we are being guided on a particular pathway as a whole, by some force we can't possibly understand. I realize it makes no rational sense, but it's how I feel. As I said, it's something extremely spiritual: that belief, that we're ultimately not the most important things in the world.
And it goes further than that, of course. Another thing frequent in religion is a belief in the afterlife. This is more wishful thinking than anything, but I do have that feeling. I don't know what lies after death (and am not too keen to find out, thankyouverymuch; I rather enjoy life, as the only time better than now to live is tomorrow), but I certainly hope it's not nothingness. I want to hold the belief that, somehow, things continue after death. Reincarnation, afterlife, whatever. I want to believe that death is not the ultimate end*. I realize that life has no meaning without death, so it's something which is definitely a part of this world, but I still want to feel as if death is not the end, but merely a new beginning.
Still, though, I take things one step further. Because there's no way to know for sure that there's something after death...because there's no rational way to prove that life continues after death...because despite the feelings I have somewhere deep down that life does not end at death...well, there's still the possibility that it does, gloom as it sounds. So that's why, to me, I always emphasize the importance of living out life. Because the possibility exists that death is the ultimate end...well, then, you'd only have lived once.
...So why not make that life have as much meaning as it possibly can? I know that I certainly am trying. Though my beliefs differ somewhat from the article, you can think of it a lot like The Anti-Nihilist. Life has as much meaning as we give it, so if we just go through life waiting for it to end, to die...then why did we bother with life at all? Going through the motions of life...isn't living. I know from experience that at my all-time low, I felt dead inside, trudging through life despite being empty. But coming out of that all-time low...I realized that I could live my life, that I should put as much meaning into it as I could, specifically for the reason of knowing that it might all end and be for nothing: that what time I DO have becomes all the more important.
I try to take very little for granted because of this, enjoying as much as I can, having respect for as much as I can, because I respect all parts of life, both the good and the bad, and wish to embrace it all, to have as much of a life as possible. Life has meaning. I wake up because I have that life to life. I live because I have that meaning of life, and my life is important because it has meaning. It seems like circular logic, but again, think things through metaphorically, and you'll see why it's so important.
I know, this is probably something you easily dismiss, as naive idealistic ramblings of an optimistic fool. But try taking some of these beliefs to your heart. They sound silly, sure, yet...they've helped improve my life. I went from the verge of death to being more alive than ever before thanks to things like this. It sounds odd, but it works wonders.
*Note that I also believe that there are ways to continue life even after death without involving religion. It comes in two forms. Living through blood, and living through names. The former is obvious; all living things have it within their nature to spread their genes, for their "blood" to continue on into the next generation. This urge is quite strong for humans, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish I would. The latter is more variable, but still quite present. What do you think the purpose of history is? People have achieved immortality in their names, by having everyone remember the deeds they have done. It's quite rare for this to have lasting impact, as it's impossible to know what people will remember years later. However, it can happen on a lesser scale, mostly through family (and word of mouth, oral tradition). Anyone who has family will have stories of family members in the past, be it ancestors or relatives. The tales may change, a lot of the details will be lost and morphed with time, yet for a long period of time, the individual will still have, in a sense, lived on after death, by the tales we tell of them.
This is becoming easier and easier with digital things, as records become more permanent (harder to lose), people write things down more often and more reliably, the internet making things more widely available, and other such things.
Yet another reason why I firmly believe the best time to live in is right now. Other than tomorrow, which will be better. It's a driving force of my life.
So I found my old flashdrive, which had been lost before.
On it are the original files for The Descended. That's right, the original flashdrive for The Descended. And not to mention, all the files which were used to help create The Descended as well. This inspired me to work on the extras page a little bit, but I didn't do much.
I did, however, do some fanart for mushroomisland!
Because of the trouble Lan went through for stealing food. :P
Not an update today, but I do have small updates. One of the things brought up was a thread asking the question, "do you use your blog, and if so, how?". I decided in that thread that--eventually--I wanted to use the blog simply to talk, because talking can be quite therapeutic, both for me and (with luck) readers. For the time being, it'll still be used to make announcements, and probably will continue to do so forever, but I want to eventually shift the focus of blogs to this type of thing, because I feel it is more in-line with what a blog should be.
So along that train of thought, here's my ramble for the day.
I did some thinking about something people (myself included) often say, of me being a masochist. Typically, I say it as a joke. But when I think about it...I realize that I actually am one. Perhaps not in the traditional sense, but I can explain. The definition is "someone who obtains pleasure from punishment", or more generally, "enjoyment of what appears painful".
Now don't get me wrong. I hate pain. Not so much physical. Physical pain is a minor inconvenience to me, but it doesn't bother me, and I generally listen to it since physical pain is a sign something's generally wrong. (That's the reason we feel it, after all. :P) So because pain doesn't really bother me, I feel nothing good about it, either.
...But mental pain, I truly despise. I don't like experiencing it, but I experience it for more things than typical. And many of them are self-inflicted, another quality typically associated with masochism. So if I hate it, how could I enjoy it?
Like I said, it's not in the traditional sense. I feel the pain, and I hate it, because pain of that kind is very bad. It can cause stress, and stress can cause it, as an ever-feeding loop. It's not fun in any way, and there's nothing good in torturing myself.
...Yet despite that, I have that silly little belief in the dual nature of all things. That everything has good and bad in it, so to speak. And despite how much negative there is in the pain...there's an upside within it as well. Being, basically, that it builds character. I know, sounds silly and clichéd, but it's true. Feeling mental pain helps make us human. It is what allows us to be empathetic (and often sympathetic as a result of the empathy) to others' pain. In other words, sharing our bad experiences with one another can help form a bond between each other.
Beyond that, mental pain also serves a further function, more directly tied to my belief in the dual nature of all things--without sadness, there cannot be happiness. Without fatigue, there cannot be relief. And so on.
It may not make that much sense, but think of it more in terms of complimentary colors--if they're separate, they make each other pop out, augmenting each other and increasing the value of each. The dual nature is basically this belief at its maximum. The value of good comes from there being bad. (Also applies to things such as life/death. The classic Who Wants To Live Forever quote of "Life cannot have meaning without Death", and all that. The value of life comes from the value of death, and vice-versa.) When the colors are mixed and combined, their value begins to dull, slowly fading into a gray. The value of each decreases.
It might not make that much sense to you, but to me, this is why pain is so important to feel. Yes, it sucks. Yes, I hate it. But I also relish it. If given the choice between experiencing it all again or rewriting history to avoid feeling it...I'd choose to feel it all again, because having felt it, I earned a new respect for its opposites. Going through the lows in life is what helped me appreciate the highs, what allowed me to cherish so much in my life I otherwise would have taken for granted.
Simply put, pain helps define who we are. Our life experiences are shaped by all the things we've done, both good AND bad. Which brings me back to the social aspect of interacting with others, because connecting with another's feelings, knowing what they have experienced and being able to truly understand it is one of the main things which makes us human.
Is it possible that we could do that without pain? I suppose, but I imagine it'd be quite difficult. This doesn't mean you should actively seek pain, as people typically think when they think masochist. You might experience a lot of pain and have it be self-inflicted, yet it shouldn't be self-inflicted for the sake of feeling the pain. Rather, as I do, it merely means that when the pain comes, you should do your best to cherish it, despite how bad it is, no matter how often it comes up. For without the bad, there wouldn't be a good.
I know, silly idealistic belief, but it IS what drives me.
...Oh, and speaking of me being a masochist, let's talk a little bit about my day. :P I've been juggling something like ten things I'm supposed to be doing, on ComicFury alone! It's quite a load of work, and I owe a lot of debts to people. I'm supposed to look at Google Analytics (something I never did since I installed it, so I don't remember my account or password), I'm supposed to link to more comics in the link exchange thread, I feel as if I owe Centcomm a lot more (Centcomm put a link to my comic before I even asked, has given me some helpful PMs--speaking of which, replying to the second one and seeing what help I can get from it is another thing on the to-do list :P--, and has not one but two awesome comics, one of which I read start-to-latest-update and should have more than just a footnote describing it. Among others), I haven't checked today for comic updates, I promised Biophysicist I'd update the TVTropes page for his comic, Unichat (which I need to put in the links section), I need to finish what I started on TOGM plus start-then-finish AT LEAST a few pieces of fanart for Magravan, and this is just what I can think of off the top of my head. :P
Yeah. Thinking I might not update this week, either, since I'm still juggling in addition to my CF responsibilities my real-life obligations which I couldn't finish over the weekend because the Marathon Square Dance I went to (12 hours of dancing, 7 PM to 7 AM) Saturday drained everything out of me. I'm feeling surprisingly calm despite the fact that I've got a ton to do. Conservatively between real life and online life, I've got 12 things I want to get done. My comic makes 13. :P It'll all be worth it, though. The real-life stuff I'm doing is quite important, and I enjoy doing it, albeit not as much as online stuff. And I feel as if CF is a second family to me, so as such, I feel an obligation to help others out in any way I can as well, hence one of the reasons the link exchange is something I always wanted to do.
It's fully possible (and in fact, probable) that I won't get everything done, but I'll get as much done as I can, and continue to get as much done as I can. Right now, my life is incredibly busy, and that's obviously quite stressful...yet at the same time, I feel that if I can stick things through and finish everything I've started, that my life will be much better after this. Despite the pressure and negativity I'm experiencing, I just feel as if right now, my life (in spite of being active) is good, and that it'll only get better. For as long as I can, I'll hold onto that thought. Wish me luck, on all my endeavors! (...I'll need it. :P)
I've been having...a bad week when it comes to fulfilling promises. Needless to say, my grand plan for TOGM hasn't worked out very well at all. I've pretty much failed at doing everything I set out to do, and I'm ashamed of myself, but some good has come of it. I've already gotten many links to explore, and will probably be doing many more archive binges thanks to TOGM in the near-future.
Speaking of which, mushroomisland made an Exchange Link thread. Most of the comics there were comics I was planning to read/subscribe to/link to eventually and helped me find another which I would otherwise likely not have seen. As such, it helped inspire me to work on expanding my Links Page a lot. It's not even close to finished, because each time I add a link, I like to give it a personalized touch. A semi-critique if you will, to give a semi-subjective, semi-objective review and why I recommend reading it. Which requires me to have actually read it. :P As such, it requires a lot of time to do, and is the reason things which I REALLY want to put up there (GSICD and Mitadake Saga, among others) haven't gone there. They're both some of the first comics I started reading (up there with Wake the Sleepers and TOGM in importance), but unlike TOGM and WtS, I've not put aside the time to archive binge and catch up. :/
Those are just some of the examples, but of course, there are many more comics I want to add yet haven't gotten around to. Ah, well. My site's a work in progress. I should be happy I've gotten as much done as I have. Such as a new banner I'm quite fond of. (A variant on it might make its way into my site layout, even.)
Not perfect, but still looks good, no? Invokes imagery which I feel perfectly reflects the comic.