What do you care?

Valya - 091212

What do you care about me?  What do you think about me?  These questions are the basis for many of my behaviors and how I interact with others.  What I chose to let out of my mind and share with others is greatly regulated by my concerns of how I am perceived by others.  That bullshit needs to stop.

I am in therapy.  With that statement, I am opened up to many prejudices, stereotypes, and misconceptions.  I don't really care anymore if people know about it.  I don't wave a therapy flag or force this bit of information in a moment of too-much-information.  I  find it humorous to see their reactions.  They are usually slightly shocked, hold and awkward pause, then very cautiously ask me, "are you ok?" For many, they are concerned, for a few though, the judgements start coming.

Why am I sharing this "devil may care" attitude about my personal life?  It is because of therapy.  During my last few sessions I started discovering that due to my concern of how people view me and by the potential of me letting them down, I am not truly living with the real me.

This self sense of being Mr. Nice Guy and trying not to ruffle feathers, smooth those that are ruffled, and avoidance of delivering bad news has held me back too long.  Because of this I tend to take on too much onto myself when others should be doing their job or make their expectations more realistic.  I lose track of too many tactical, cultural, familial and other types of obligations. I am spending too much time on this shit.

A year or so ago I had a dream where my wife told me "I am not going to help you clean up the façades you built around yourself."  This profoundly hit me and cuts to the core of my tendencies to placate.  I build up all these façades to keep the peace from falling into pieces.

While that revelation is big for me, it took a simple observation from my therapist when I told her of that dream.  "Those narrations in your dreams are written by you, not the person represented in your dreams."  Whoa...  For the past year, I've subconsciously believed that statement represented something from my wife.  While it may be something she believes, it is my projection on her, manifested in a dream.  Since it is my dream script the message is directed at me... from ME. 

I know that should be very evident and elementary in terms of psychology.  I have a degree in the subject.  Unfortuntely, I never thought that those things said in my dreams are my script and messages my soul, spirit, and intellect are trying to convey to me.  I may get inklings of the messages during awake time, but it takes a dream to live those messages.

Out of all of the therapy cliches, here is a big one - the role of my parents in my current psychological health.  I will put that net out wider to include all family, many close friends and coworkers.  For years I've said "yes" to many things while suppressing my real thoughts, ideas, and desires in fear of hurting and disappointing these people.  Once my therapist got this out of me she asked the next huge question --

"How does this affect your art?"
I have two self-identified types of art I create, the secular and "sexular".  The "sexular" is all my nude photos and those images that have overt erotic elements.  The secular is pretty much all my other stuff, portraits, landscapes, commercial work, etc.  If you go to my commercial website, you will find most photos are my secular works except for a harmless, tiny, implied nude of Candace.

Back to my therapist's question, "How does this affect your work?"

For my secular art , I am concerned that the craft and art in it are not strong enough to be appreciated or accepted by those who are important to me (see list above).  I love making these photos.  Most do not have deep contextual artistic meaning, but they are fun and rewarding to make.

For my "sexular" art, I am very concerned by how I am perceived by it.  I've published publicly very little of my work in this area other than on my blog.  I think all this angst over showing this work and how it is important to me to those who may condemn me makes me put up even more façades. 

This subconscious drive most recently manifested in my newest series I am creating - I Objectify Women.  In this series, I am grappling with objectification of women, and how I am part of it.  I am hoping it will help me answer some of my own tough questions and self-doubts.  In the end though, it is becoming a statement piece saying, "This is my art and this is who I am."  Maybe it is time for me to live that mantra in more areas of my life.

"This is my work and this who I am."
"These are my desires and this is who I am."
"This is my sexuality and this is who I am."
"This is my body and this is who I am."

It's time to drop so many of the facades around me.  I need that energy for more important things.


  1. Karl, having read your post a couple of times, thought back a bit, the thought I'd offer has to do with the difference between a man's living, and his livelihood. It is one of the places where our culture has essentially defrauded men, trying to set these two things as one and the same thing. Livelihood is to earn the physical, while a living is to justify the effort. They are not at all the same thing, and the closer they are to the same the greater the risk to both.

    The best example of this difference I can give is what happened to the girls when the feminazi elements began the same campaign against their sisters. The attack on the guys is much deeper in history, buried in with the deformities the radical Puritans of the northern colonies introduced into the human condition, but the attack on the girls is in modern history and well documented. For several hundred years after the guys were attacked the girls held the line for us, the proof of how devastating that attack really is may be found in what has happened to our society after they came under the same attack.

    Consider the case of the conventional stay at home wife and mother. Her livelihood is as a homemaker, a housekeeper, a (hopefully) more willing than not sex partner. She has little to trade beyond her home by way of securing the physical needs of life. But her living, ah, her living is in practicing the most delicate art there is, the art of sculpting new lives, the art of motherhood. Consider what happened to our society, to the world, when the feminazi began their campaign to convince her that she should set her living as part of her livelihood, when they began the lie that livelihood should set the form of her living.

    An extreme and stereotypic example, but the consequences for her are much the same as for us: the facades and accommodations needed for her livelihood began to distort her art, and that distortion now echoes through six if not eight generations of our culture. From what you've said in your post I'd suspect that odd as it might sound you're actually suffering from much the same set of contradictions. In your secular work you must present the façade, to protect your clients' sensibilities, their vulnerabilities… after all, they've asked you to capture for them what are really very intimate moments in their life, they allow you to filter and select what is positive and pleasing to them. The facades are how they are reassured you're not going to use such perception to their detriment. But those same facades carried by habit into your art become at best a distraction on your living, at worst an inversion of it threatening both.

    Karl, in that it would seem both your living and your livelihood share a camera lens that leaves those two distinct functions as close together for you as are the living and the livelihood of the housewife and mother, where both forms will most likely be found in her kitchen. Best guess at extreme range.

    Peace bro', you'll figure it out.

    1. CD - Thanks for a deep read into this post. This split between my secular and "sexular" may have to be always separate if I choose to have two different lines of work that don't always play well with each other.

  2. Good post Karl. The journey into the self might be one of the most difficult and painful journeys ever taken, but its worth the effort. Eventually you will learn to set the ego aside and find your true self. The fact that you are asking questions means that you have already traveled a considerable distance. Bon voyage et bon chance.

    1. Joe - Thanks for this message of encouragement. I always appreciate your Zen approach to life, art and those things that make us truly live.

  3. I probably should be in therapy but never have. So far I have pulled my own ass out of the darkness each time I’ve slid down the slippery slope that the demons have enticed me to travel. But it gets harder each time.

    I know that it is hard trying to be both sides of that coin – Who they want me to be and Who I am or want to be. We often get lost in the middle.

    I am often hesitant about revealing exactly who I am and I guess from a psychology stand point there are many days I don’t even know for sure. We were visiting our daughter last June in Phoenix; during some light conversation she made the comment – Oh Dad I know you so well – we laughed and there was a pause as I took a drink of my beer. In that pause, as I looked into her eyes, it hit me like a brick – No, even though you have been in my life for 30 years – you don’t really know me.

    It takes courage to open up, to be somewhat as naked as the models you photograph, before your peers, peekers and trolls of the internet. But I want you to know that the two portions of your discourse I have put below have helped me.

    Thank You for sharing.

    D.L. Wood

    “"Those narrations in your dreams are written by you, not the person represented in your dreams." Whoa... For the past year, I've subconsciously believed that statement represented something from my wife. While it may be something she believes, it is my projection on her, manifested in a dream. Since it is my dream script the message is directed at me... from ME.”

    “ Unfortunately, I never thought that those things said in my dreams are my script and messages my soul, spirit, and intellect are trying to convey to me. I may get inklings of the messages during awake time, but it takes a dream to live those messages.”

    1. D.L. Thank you for sharing about your own personal history. Like you, I've pulled my ass out of those dark moments as well. I am starting to find thought that while I do get myself out of the moment, my method may be more just postponing issues until later and making the issues even worse.

      At times, I wonder if those close to me do know me. My ego says they don't know me much at all either, but another part of me thinks they sense more I give credit for. This "sensing" is partly due to all the signals and clues I probably give off.

  4. Karl, I've reached the point, being much older than you, that I have a counter worry: do I care too little about what others think? I don't really care at all. I am truly not trying to impress anyone. I don't set out to deliberately insult others, but I often do. The only line I draw now is not to hurt the one person who matters to me most, for whom I remain a lifetime role model. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to feel bound to his perceptions either. When he lets me into his life and introduces me to his friends and business associates, he always says, "Don't embarrass me."

    I really could care less what anyone thinks, although I spent way too much of my life with that concern. Your wife's perception and what your behavior does to her well being will always be a concern to you, if you are like me.

    For your personal acceptance of self, it comes down to, as Joe says, the courage to look at who you are and accept that person and what you've done that you like and what you've done that you wish you hadn't. Then forgive yourself, and love yourself for all the great things you are and love yourself for the bad crap you did, understanding why you did it.

    But what to do about those you love who depend on your maintenance of a "decent" public image - I can't tell you what to do about that. I remain compromised still.

    1. Carla- Thank you for sharing this personal comment. I greatly appreciate hearing you view of seeing the same chasm from the other side. I hope to one day have more of your ability in this area. I am hoping therapy will help. Just the fact that I am realizing it through therapy is worth the time, effort, and money.


So,what are you thinking about?