Not Worried About What to Write About
by Nathan Hyatt
I really don’t have to worry about what to write about. I used to. I used to think really hard about everything. But for some reason, over time, I began to just do and just think about whatever came into my mind that I was comfortable thinking about. If I began to have an unwelcome thought, I simply greeted it and understood that it was there for a reason. If it wasn’t helpful, I just chose to be thankful that my thoughts did not and do not have to rule me in a negative way today.
Everything in God’s time. It really is better not having to worry. I cannot possibly think about all of the things I ever worried about. I do know that worrying about them did not prepare me for life or help me go about my day.
I had to stop worrying. I had to start acting in Faith that God had me in the palm of Her hand. I had to start believing that things really had been okay all along.
I was the one who had chosen not to be okay. I was the one who had chosen to suffer. I had decided that life was not good enough. I was the one who had decided that the phone was ringing too many times and that I could not stand it. I was the one who had decided that other people were too mean and too cruel. I was the one who had decided that I just had to HAD TO drink and use drugs.
I was the one who had chosen to live in pain and always wish things could be different.
But things could be different. Things could have been different because I could be different.
My attitude could be different.
I could love myself and other people and let God help me to understand that I am an eternal being in a world with other eternal beings who are made of light and love.
But I forget. We forget.
I forget and I get caught up in worldly clamors. I get caught up in notions of fairness and unfairness. I lose myself in life in a bad way. I lose my connection with the God of my understanding.
But I can lose myself in a good way today.
I can lose myself and die to myself so that I might find myself. To die to worldly clamors and to the flesh and to come alive to the Truth and Enlightenment offered by the Buddha and the Christ and to understand that suffering is optional is the choice that I make today. (John 12:24-26)
And I do not have to be dramatic about it.
I just get to get up and go about my day knowing that God loves me, that other people love me and that I love myself.
I know I have not said much, but the Truth as I have it in my heart is enough today.
(contact Nathan Hyatt @ NatezenHyatt@gmail.com)
Therapy IS Working
by Nate Hyatt
I had a good therapy session today.
I just started sharing with my therapist about the fear and dread that I have and the reluctance to succeed. When I work and earn money, I feel squeamish about accepting my pay and having feelings of accomplishment or pride in a job well done.
When I think about going back to school, I get queasy when I think about taking on school work and trying to understand things like algebra all over again. I honestly get a little sick. I don’t just get sick over the idea that I will not have success and that I will fail and wind up getting in trouble with student loans. I do not just get sick over the idea of getting burned out and having to give up and then still not having a degree to show for it.
I get sick to my stomach over the idea of even actually having great success. Which is really weird, but it is a thing.
I get stressed out because of the way things went in the past.
I remember those horrible experiences. I remember the jobs where I could not handle my anger. I remember not being able to handle any of my emotions.
But I also remember the success.
The great experiences I had on stage and in front of the camera as an actor.
The wonderful feeling of doing a job well and hearing laughter and applause, even if only from one person on the set of a student film after the director said, “Cut!”
But there was something else there at work the whole time that takes more than just one blog post or one therapy session to delve into.
There was the underlying feeling that something horrible was always going to happen.
Some horrible things have happened.
Some real trauma and some real pain.
I was at the height of my acting career when I ran out of money and began having psychotic symptoms and ultimately lost everything and became homeless, bouncing around like a pinball in Florida’s wonderful mental health “system.”
I would find a place to live and try desperately to gain some stability, only to be kicked out into the street. This went on for a while.
I was blessed with a job doing tricks with a sign by the side of the road and that helped my ex-wife and I get back on our feet along with the jobs she was able to land.
I worked that job off and on for seven years, continuing to struggle in the mental health system and in recovery.
I was able to live on my own and buy a Mustang GT Convertible, which I promptly totaled.
This was during my mid-life crisis, following my inevitable divorce.
I am constantly tempted to compare my pain and trauma to that of other people and say that of course, they had it worse than I did.
But I do not want to do that here.
This is about my healing process.
This is about my health and sanity and well-being.
This is about the specific things that I can do to practice becoming healthier and using the tools that I have discovered and have been taught to make changes in my mindset, if not in my personality.
Actually, I would like to think my personality has changed.
I sure hope so. I don’t know what else you would call such a drastic overhaul of my patterns and habits.
Perhaps it is just that my mindset is changing that much.
I no longer feel like I suffer so much from perfectionism.
I feel like I am an optimist now instead of a pessimist.
I feel like I have let go of many old behavior patterns.
Many of them, VERY toxic.
And yet I still have a lot of fear.
Fear of failure and of success at the same time.
I plan to keep practicing mindfulness and other meditative and spiritual and psychological techniques in order to make the change from constantly dreading what life has to offer and being always afraid that the other shoe is going to drop. I intend to change to a mindset of accepting challenges and enjoying the success that will come with many things, but of course, not everything.
I plan to be realistic and happy at the same time.
This is going to be a real challenge.
I am even having difficulty typing the word “happy.”
I will keep you posted.
(If you wish to share thoughts and opinions on my work, cartooning or what I have written, you may contact me here: NateZenHyatt@gmail.com)
Coping Skills in the Wake of Bad News
by Nate Hyatt
Someone close to me is going through a difficult time. Not just any difficult time. I do not want to get into details, because I believe in protecting the privacy of others, especially those I care deeply for. But really everyone.
I was very troubled to discover the news that I heard yesterday evening. It made me want to miss an important engagement that I had. I made the engagement anyway and tried to contribute what I could, even though I could not possibly get my mind off of the people that I love.
I wanted to miss the meeting. I wanted to just sit with my thoughts and stream music on the computer and be angry at everything and everyone, including God but especially a certain someone who, in my estimation, “just doesn’t get it and never will.”
The feelings of hurt and frustration continued into today and would not leave me alone. My parents left for a doctor’s appointment my Mother had and left me alone with my thoughts.
So, I decided to try something new.
I decided to try doing something productive as a coping mechanism.
I chose to finish inking a Sunday comic I had drawn.
I chose to do a budget.
I chose to play guitar.
And I chose to write this blog.
That is a change for me.
I still had and have a range of emotions that I needed to talk out and I was able to talk to more than one person who helped. There is still one person I can talk to about everything that is going on, and I think they should be able to help too.
But I had a different feeling about doing something productive with my anger, my rage and my feelings of self-pity and resentment.
I felt like I had discovered something healthy.
I felt like I had discovered a new me.
I have had horrible coping mechanisms in the past.
I have broken things, self-injured, engaged in shouting-matches and become generally violent and abusive toward myself and others. I have thrown things and punched holes in walls.
A lot of this behavior is thankfully fading into the past.
I have been refusing more and more of that behavior.
Today, I refused to do something else.
I refused to sulk.
Today, I chose to work on a project that needed to get done, with the attitude that I was going to live my life in spite of the drama that unfolded in the lives of those I know and care about.
It was a hard choice, but I really believe that it paid off.
In the past, I had felt like I had to come to a grinding halt whenever there was drama and the problem was, (stop me if you can relate), there was drama ALL THE TIME.
Bad news and bad things were the norm and the Rule of the Day and there was never enough time to dare to allow myself to enjoy any good feeling that came along.
There always seemed to be an accusation coming from someone else or myself related to any joy that I could steal from life.
Some sort of accusation related to the weird need to establish the belief that my happiness was not allowed and could not be healthy or legitimate.
(“Are you on DRUGS???”)
But today, my Joy is healthy.
I can tell.
I can tell that it is for real.
And I am sorry someone else is going through a hard time.
I truly am.
But today, I do not allow that to steal my Joy.
I have boundaries.
My Joy is My Joy.
You may not steal my joy.
Strangely, the first thought I had when I began doing something productive as a coping mechanism for my upset feelings was one of “I hope this is not unhealthy.”
I was worried that I was going to “pour myself into my work” and overdo it.
That feeling quickly went away.
I am sure there are people who use overwork to cope in an unhealthy manner.
But today, I chose to live my regular, normal life while saying a little prayer for someone else who makes choices I cannot condone.
To me, that is much, much healthier than bringing my life to a grinding halt and pouting over someone else’s drama.
I am not a psychologist or a therapist, but I believe my choice today was healthy.
The people who need to know that I love them, know I love them and there is no amount of private drama on my part that would help heal their pain or improve their station in life.
It would be unnecessary and it would not improve a thing for me or for anyone close to me.
Sulking and pouting would not help anyone at all.
So, yes, I made a change and I continued to live my life and meet goals and deadlines.
And that IS healthy.
And that is all I have for today.
What is up with the Phunetunians?
by Nathan Hyatt
Hi, there. Nathan Hyatt here, creator of Conscience and Nonsense. We are wrapping up a short series of Sunday comics featuring creatures from the planet Phunetune. They became angry when they realized that Devil Nonsense was making fun of them for wearing upside down martini glasses on their horns and drooling all day long. (You can see the series of comics on the home page at ConscienceAndNonsense.com )
I created these little guys to help me deal with the fact that I have a lot of difficulty writing material related to the real world we find ourselves in here in 2021 C.E. It is a world with a lot of anger and resentment. People keep thinking they need to wake each other up to something. People keep pointing their fingers at each other and accusing each other of having too much power and of ruining their own shot at success or life in general.
I have to be careful coloring ethnic characters who happen to be African American (like Pastor Brown) or Puerto Rican (like Candy) because I don’t want to accidentally make them a shade of brown or gray or whatever that makes them look like they are cast in a bad light figuratively speaking. I forgot to color Candy at all on two black and white daily comics and I was shocked to see that I had committed that oversight. I want characters who are BIPOC and I want them to be rich and proudly colorful and realistic while funny and ironic, yet tasteful.
I am not complaining about challenges. I am disclaiming my mistakes when I get busy or burned out and cannot do my characters and the people they represent justice.
I want justice.
Literally and figuratively and in truth and in fiction.
I am a big believer in the cause of civil rights. I fight the urge to capitalize the words “Civil Rights.” (should I?) I believe in equality and the struggle to attain it as best as can be carried out by the people of Earth and the United States, which still seems to be at the forefront. Perhaps that is simply because I live here.
I believe in continuing to work toward it. Which ought to go without saying.
The Phunetunians are angry. They feel disrespected. They cannot stand the idea that anyone would make fun of them. But was it Devil Nonsense’s fault that he poked fun at them without even realizing they existed?
Now that they have made the journey to Earth to get up in Steve’s grill about the whole thing, maybe Nonsense can be more careful and more sensitive. (We all know that our little devil friend won’t though, will he?)
Actually, the Phunetunians are a figment of Steve’s imagination. An unwanted figment. They are part of the paranoia that he experiences that he is always upsetting someone, somewhere, somehow and that someone is very angry with him all the time, even though he usually doesn’t know who. Steve is like me, because he constantly analyzes his interactions with people and is sure he is upsetting them and ruining everything. He just knows that a race of little, multi-colored, spotted, horned aliens would eagerly come from a distant planet orbiting around a far-away star, just to let him know he is a jerk and that they do not appreciate something he did not even do.
Even as I write this, I am aware of the possibility that someone could be thinking I am comparing human beings to aliens from another planet who are colorful, angry and troublesome.
I don’t want to see people that way.
Phunetunians do not exist, that I know of. They are a fictional creation of mine. If they were real, I would try to understand them better and make peace with them and be friendly towards them.
I also might see a psychiatrist about the little green men problem I was having.
When all is said and done, what the Phunetunians really want is to reserve the right to think Steve and his little devil, Nonsense (and Professor Conscience as well) are pricks who should shut the hell up and keep their opinions and random thoughts to themselves. Even on their home planet. Even in a thought cloud floating about their own head.
Or maybe that’s just what Steve thinks.
Maybe there is more to it than that.
Dealing with the current state of affairs in the United States with all of the politics and accusations and conspiracy theories is hard enough. When dealing with a mental illness that tells you that everything is coming to an end soon and that you are not going to be able to handle it because it is all so much bigger than you…
Well, that can be overwhelming.
So, try to be like Steve.
Just know that most of it is all just an army of little boogey-men with useless, little pretend science-fiction comic-book, cartoon guns that cannot hurt you.
Do not take yourself or life or what is on television too seriously and practice self-care.
And do not keep making yourself watch video footage that journalists are warning you is very disturbing because of what it contains. That’s sensationalism.
Do not apologize for taking care of yourself and doing something unrelated to “keeping up.”
That is all.
The final installment of the visit of the creatures from the Planet Phunetune will be available tomorrow, Friday, February 11, 2021 on ConscienceAndNonsense.com
Good night and good luck.
What to Expect…(not that you should have expectations.)
Welcome to the big old, bad old, ever-present “I know I haven’t written a blog in a while” blog post.
To whom do I owe an apology?
No one is depending on this blog for sustenance or to put food on their table or shelter over their head.
This is just a humble little blog.
Actually, if I were to apologize, it would be out of a twisted desire to magically be able to accomplish great and wonderful things all of the time without ever having to sleep or take a break of any kind.
That is not life.
Sometimes it is actually necessary to take the approach that I remember certain conservative talk-radio hosts taking back when I used to listen to them.
“This is about me and what I think and what I want and how I think things should go and how things should be based on my own ideas.”
Okay, maybe not that severe.
But in a way, kind of. Yes, a little.
It isn’t a daily, misguided effort to save the world or earn money by writing for the sake of writing until someone stumbles upon my blog and decides I am an amazing writer and has the crazy idea to pay me a living wage just to write this blog.
It is actually more like a balanced part of this nutritious breakfast.
So, I do not promise anything.
Except to always follow the word “so” with a comma when I use it to begin a sentence, since Word hates it whenever I try to ignore the Law of Nature that dictates that this Must Be So.
(See the period after the word “so” at the end of the last sentence.)
I will basically come here to think out loud at my keyboard and just practice my writing skills for the sake of alleviating my own personal boredom and if you are entertained or educated, then stupendous! Fabulous! Marvelous! Papadopoulos!
It will be more of the same.
It will be Conscience and Nonsense.
But in all seriousness, I will be doing a number of things (God willing.)
I will be talking about my own spiritual journey through Eastern and Western religion and recovery and how it relates to everything.
I will be keeping up to date on the ins and outs (but not too many personal details) of how the comic strip has gone and is going.
I will be announcing personal successes (such as obtaining a county business license. Hooray, me!)
I will be championing causes such as acceptance, tolerance and advocacy on behalf of the mentally afflicted and those affected.
I will be musing.
I cannot guarantee that I will be amusing.
That all depends on whether or not you are easily amused.
If you are, I wish I was like you.
That is all for now, since, like the praying mantis, I wish to take challenges in more bite-sized bits.
Chew on that for a while.
I know I will.
(if you have any thoughts on what you read here, the website or the comic strip, Conscience And Nonsense, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org )
The South Has Risen Again…and it is not going well.
I saw them. While growing up in a small town in middle Tennessee.
Bumper stickers. With Rebel flags.
They said “The South Shall Rise Again.”
I knew a thing or two about what it meant, even in my preteen years. I knew that there had been a Civil War in the United States of America years and years and years ago in the 1860’s and that the North had won. And the slaves were set free.
I thought that black people and white people should be able to get along. I knew that some people were secretly members of something that at the time I believed was called the Clue Kicks Klan or something. I knew that Nazis hated Jewish people and that there had been a war about that once again, years ago, just not as many years ago.
Actually, these wars were not fought that long ago at all.
And they have never, ever truly been won.
People have survived war to go on to be more free or more confident in their freedom. But in everyone, there is still the deep yearning to be free and live in liberty.
But there is also the fear that if you don’t clobber the other guy, he will take that precious freedom away.
The South rose again in November of 2016 and somehow, through the Electoral College system and what some newscasters called an “inside straight,” Donald Trump won the presidency on the promise of making America great again.
The people who were most concerned about that promise seemed to be the people who knew the most about what it really meant.
And then there was Charlottesville. There were angry white males who, for some reason did not have their heads shaved, who carried torches and rioted and got people killed amid shouts of “JEWS WILL NOT REPLACE US!!!”
And the South rose again.
And it is an ugly and hateful scene.
It is not the South I love.
It is not the Tennessee which is home to country music and Nashville. It is not Elvis Presley’s Mississippi or Samuel Langhorne Clemen’s Missouri. It is not the Louisiana that is home to the magic and mystery and voodoo and history of New Orleans. It is not the Florida that carries the name which was the first name this land was ever called by any European back when it was discovered by Ponce de Leon. It is not Arkansas, home to President Bill Clinton, who promised to build a bridge to the 21st Century. It is not the brothers and sisters and preachers and congregations and teachers and students and firefighters and police who keep the peace and the nurses and doctors who save lives in any of the great states down here that I could shout out.
It is certainly not the Blue Georgia of Keisha Lance Bottoms and Stacey Abrams and so many other courageous black women who have fought to make this land more free and more able to fulfill its promise of freedom.
It is the revival of an ugly and dark and sinful stain.
It is the revival of hate and evil and racism and bigotry.
And it stinks like the wolf it is.
And it is hunting sheep to sheer them and dawn itself in new robes dressed as a follower of Our Lord and Savior.
This is not from God.
This is not the South I know and love.
This is not the South of Dr. King and Tim Tebow.
This is not the South of Nick Saban and James Carville.
This is not the South that gave birth to the Blues.
This is not the South that got us to the Moon and beyond from towns like Houston, Texas and Cape Canaveral, Florida.
This is not the South I know.
It is time to understand that if you love the South AND you love America…
It is time to put your Rebel flag away.
Donate it to a museum.
If you ever point to that flag, let it be when you explain to a child how that America still struggles to overcome the dark and sinful stains of its past.
Because, you see, the attacks on the Nation’s Capital on January 6th, 2021, were nothing more than an attack on the promise of equality and liberty and justice for all.
This was not an attack carried out in the interest of liberating anyone.
Senators and Congressional Servants, Republican and Democrat alike, many of them proud veterans, had to shelter in place because of a terrorist act carried out by people waving Rebel flags and white-power flags of Aryan Nation and flags that said “Trump 2020.” I am just now hearing of someone leaving a hangman’s noose behind.
You cannot explain this away.
Not for me.
You cannot be pro-Trump without being loyal to everything he stands for. He operates that way. He never agrees to disagree.
And neither did the mob that desecrated and laid siege to our U.S. Capitol for the first time in over two-hundred (200) years.
The last time it was the British during the War of 1812.
So pardon me if I am over my need to be educated about all the good and awesome people who just wanted their voices heard.
I heard you.
We heard you.
We have been hearing from you all our lives.
You have used your freedom of speech all you wanted and very few people have ever really tried to stop you.
We hear you when you talk and we read what you write.
But I could not hear you over the breaking glass and the gunshots and the sirens and the shouts of anti-democratic rhetoric.
I guess there wasn’t that much looting after all.
One guy wanted to tote off a podium.
He probably didn’t get very far before he got tired and had to set it down.
He did not look like he was in a big hurry to get away from anyone who wanted to stop him.
One of his fellow goons left a message in Nancy Pelosi’s office that said, “We will not back down.”
Back down from what?
Back down from who?
Where did they think they were?
Who did they think they were?
Who do they think they are and who do they think the “enemy” is?
This enemy they will not back down from?
The Senators and Congressmen and women scrambling to save lives and work with police to get to safety after they were interrupted in the process of certifying a presidential election in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA???
Did they think they were G.I.s on the beaches of Normandy?
Did they think they were John McCain in Saigon in a P.O.W. camp?
Did they think they were cleaning up the rubble of the aftermath of December 7th, 1941 and sifting through debris to find dead bodies.
Or like on September 11th, 2001?
Did they think they were running into a burning tower to save lives of innocent victims?
Did they think they were doing something akin to the work of Seal Team 6 and killing Osama Bin Laden?
Did they think they were heroes?
What do you think?
Walking a Path
by Nate Hyatt
Walking a Spiritual path requires self-examination and honesty.
I am in the middle of an inventory process right now with a Spiritual mentor. I am taking a hard look at my life and where I have been. Yes, it is part of my recovery. I have done it before, but I do not believe that I had truly had my eyes opened in the past to so many truths that were sitting out there waiting to be discovered.
I realize now how fair and just life really can be. I realize, at least for me, how many second chances I have had and how that I have been able to survive because of a network of people God put in my path to help me through the dark and trying times.
I do not mean to sound dramatic or poetic. It is simply a reality that I have to admit upon reflection. I see how many times I should have been compelled to pay dearly for my sins and shortcomings.
Here is the poetic part: God had a plan.
Here is the dramatic part: God still has a plan.
Here is where I come in: I still have time to get out of the way and let it happen.
I feel like I am on the right path in so many ways. Things are coming naturally and I have stopped fighting and struggling and wishing for everything to be different.
Different so that the laws of Nature and God’s Universe would somehow make an exception for me and grant me everything I desired in spite of the fact that it would not make me happy? Go a step further and make me happy with material things and cheap but expensive trappings and trimmings of a life I could claim I had made for myself when that is simply not how it works?
That is never how it works.
Show me anyone who claims to be happy who does not give of himself or herself in service and I will show you someone who has trouble with honesty.
I had a huge party.
I went to wild clubs and drove a Mustang convertible. It was a GT. No little V6 for me. I had to get a good deal on it too.
I totaled it and I nearly lost my life too many times to count.
So, now the question is not “why me?”
Now the question is “What does God want me to do with my life to thank him and the people who love me for helping me survive in spite of my attempts to throw away those gifts of love and understanding?”
In the time of Covid-19 and this war with an enemy too tiny to see, the value of life has taken on new meaning for me.
Hundreds of thousands of people have died a horrible death.
And I am still here.
Am I here so that I can envy the man with the mansion and all the cars and airplanes and girlfriends and trophy-wife? Envy his riches and vacations and drug addiction and dissatisfaction and sadness and loneliness and inability to fill that void inside at any price?
I know the void.
I have no mansion and I have no super-model wife, but I know the void.
But I have peace today.
I am walking a path and working steps and I am coming to understand that there is meaning in life.
Even if life is a means unto itself so that we can live, create life, live some more and then die and live again.
Life has meaning.
Even if I don’t know what that means.
I can point to a small child and say, “There it is.”
I can draw and then tack it to the wall and say, “That’s some of it.”
I can say hello to a friend and talk and have coffee over a distance of many miles and say upon bidding farewell, “That is some of the meaning of life.”
Even if I am simply here just to be here, I want to make the most of it.
I can work to aid those who do not have the privilege I enjoy because of hatred and injustice.
I can think and act.
I can walk on a Spiritual Path with other people who want to do what is right.
Have a nice life.
A Christmas Wish for You
Thanks for Nothing.
As I take my spiritual journey, I begin (and perhaps simply continue) to understand that classical psychology does not and cannot work for me under all sets of circumstances. I am not a psychologist. At least not yet. So, let me tread lightly here.
I think I have believed for a long time that the idea was that I was supposed to be “keeping score” of the “good” and “bad” things that happened to me over the course of a given day, week, month and year.
Most would say that 2020 has been a “bad year.”
Well, by many, many metrics it has certainly been a cause of mourning and great heartache.
Lives have been lost. Things taken for granted in the past, such as playing and watching sports have turned into everything from unfortunate event to outright fiasco.
And people have not gotten a pass.
Sports fans have become angered even more often than most of the time. And coaches have been fired. And controversy of the not-as-much-fun-to-talk-about-at-the-water-cooler kind has reared its ugly head. People are downright angry at games that have not even been played.
And people have died slow, horrible deaths while many, many Americans have angrily fought(???) for their right(???) not to take sensible precautions in order to prevent the spread of a deadly disease.
Many have pointed fingers in a debate that should not even seem to rage in a situation that should seem to unite us and accused others of being stupid and crazy for wearing a mask when no mask was needed. Or for staying home when they should go to work.
Make no mistake.
We must work.
Not just so we can pay bills, but so that people can be housed and clothed and have food to eat and get an education and visit the doctor when they are ill (regardless of what their illness may be.)
Many have not been able to get by so well as of late.
But I have privilege.
I live in a castle right now in a nice neighborhood and I have my needs met. I have so much to be thankful for, including and in addition to this laptop I use to write this.
I have leisure time.
I have food.
I have access to health care.
I have responsibility.
I do my part and I do not have to worry.
It is almost as though I live in a socialist country where they got socialism right and don’t let it turn into communism or run away from it and back to capitalism under the mistaken notion that anything that smacks of capitalism is also automatically freedom and therefore God-ordained.
But enough of my political views and personal situation as a disabled American.
This really does have the potential to be a great country. The people who make it work give of their very core in order to serve and make it all come together.
From the Republican farmer who gets up before the rooster crows to the Democrat school teacher who volunteers as a firefighter.
For the same reason.
There is work to be done.
Today is not trivia Tuesday. That will be there.
I am moved because I know that hundreds of thousands have died from a disease that everyone will ultimately get or get the vaccine for.
And they have not died in vain.
We may be inconvenienced in this Great Nation of ours, but at the end of the day, we just held a free and fair election and people voted their conscience. No matter who the President of the United States of America is, some will love him or her and some will hate him or her. And they can be vocal about it hopefully without fear that some cabal will come take them away to be tortured and killed.
We still live in a free nation.
And we guard that freedom jealously. We are willing to sacrifice our lives and the lives of our countrymen in order to protect our way of life.
It is hard to be a Republican or Democrat right now.
So much personal pain and disagreement and loss and heartache has torn and divided us.
But let us come together somehow, some way this holiday season.
Let us refrain for once from leaving that snarky comment on that post or from starting that argument with anyone from stranger to family member.
Let us let it be.
Let us give thanks that even though we are losing our fellow Americans as in wartime…
We are still the bravest and most free country on Earth.
And if you read this and you think we are not…
Let’s change it.
If change will happen anywhere, it will happen here.
We have to keep turning this country upside down and shaking it until it is what God wants it to be.
Let it be.
Let Freedom Ring.
Never Minding the Great Thwarting Force
The notion that God or the Universe put you here for the express purpose of preventing you from ever accomplishing anything is plain insanity.
Yet we see it played out over and over again in so many people’s lives and in so many situations and circumstances. Not the reality of the existence of some Great Thwarting Force of Nature, but the difficulty presented to us and to others by the odd and inexplicable belief that God or the Great Spirit did, indeed place us here for the express, explicit purpose of making certain that our lives go nowhere, amount to nothing and result in nothing more than a null set of meaningless accomplishments as far as what we have accomplished and failures that outweigh to a great degree whatever we may hang our hat on.
Take for example the one who gets an education that costs a great deal of time and money, but then feels he or she cannot use it to a purpose at all related to the subject matter which was studied. Take as an example the one who studied a musical instrument and then never accomplished the dream of playing and going on tour or recording an album or working at all in the field of music.
Take the person who went to seminary, only to leave the ministry disillusioned, finding a career as something or someone seemingly less purposeful to them, such as insurance salesman or claims adjuster.
Why do these people feel like the Universe or God was against them completely and placed them upon this Earth simply so they could dream useless, silly dreams and then waste time, energy, money and life pursuing them, only to fail and be humiliated?
Why can they not value their experience in a World where all has Buddha nature? Why can they not enjoy each day as it comes and not place their pleasure in the future, believing against all proof and evidence that the imaginary happiness they may feel tomorrow or next year will somehow resolve the pain and difficulty of a life of dissatisfied exertion and self-castigation?
Why do people believe life is so hard and cling steadfastly to the notion that there is so much to be unhappy about while others are so thankful in spite of all they have lost and have never had?
Why the insistent supposition that life sucks because God wants it that way and that He has set a trap for us that we cannot solve, which will ultimately result in the damnation of all but a privileged few?
Why the stubborn focus on all that is wrong?
I have done so many comic strips that have been seen and appreciated by a mere handful of people and I hope that I have learned to truly conceive and draw them for myself and whoever sees them without the need to be famous because of them. I have written songs I can sing and play and learn to write music for that I can enjoy by myself or with a few people without having to consider dreams of riches and glory on stage as part of some world tour which would in reality be a career and much work that may bring many challenges and much difficulty. I have learned a foreign language and had great enjoyment and satisfaction because of that, even though I have never used it outside the country by traveling abroad to places where it is spoken. But I have used it online in meetings based in places like Spain and Chile and for now that is amazing and wonderful.
My desire and goal each day is to be at peace with God and to thoughtfully and mindfully learn a little more about how to be a good person and good citizen. I do not feel some imperious urge to fix my feelings or bend life to my will. Yes, I am in recovery and I hope that I can be humble enough to admit that I need it regardless of how I think life treats me or how anyone else behaves or what they choose to do.
I have gratitude today even though I believe that there is much that could stand to be changed in the world.
I love my life today because I love that I have life and do not have to worry about life not going the way I plan since God actually does have a beautiful plan for all our lives and today, I find no fault in it.
What to Expect Here on ConAndNoNMag
It has been a long time (not sure how long) since I last wrote something here for my blog. And the reason is the usual suspect: I have been frightfully busy. I have been taking care of my mother and helping her cook meals along with mowing the lawn and keeping up with things like laundry and self-care and watching football (thank you, God that we are playing) and this crazy year with the pandemic and most important election in history, etc.
But I have made time to do things that interest me and that relate to Conscience And NoNSensE. I have drawn more and I actually have been doing a rather good job of keeping up with creating more videos for my YouTube channel. (I have uploaded videos for six weeks in a row.) I have worked with my web-developer tirelessly to improve ConscienceAndNonsense.com (her programming goes into that site.) This website, (which is the “sister” website) is my responsibility to keep up with and, well, wouldn’t you know… I have been busy and I have neglected it.
But I have been publishing a lot of promotional memes.
And I have in no wise been getting rusty when it comes to practicing Spanish. I have been staying busy studying and improving so that I can get back into instructing it to those who wish to learn to speak, understand, read and write the language I have adopted as my bilingual alternate of choice.
So, I haven’t been lazy.
I have just been neglecting conandnonmag.wordpress.com because I have been up to other things.
But please, do look forward to more content here.
As mentioned before there will be new games and goodies over on ConscienceAndNoNSensE.com. As far as this technical web-address goes, look forward to trivia on Tuesdays (is there any other legally allowable day for trivia?), more fiction and related comedy and comic sketches and more blogging like this, as well as upcoming information related to civil rights and the nagging question that gave me pause years ago:
Do mentally ill people have the same civil rights as everyone else and if so, what are they?
The obvious answer is “NO.”
The more-detailed answer seems to be:
“NO AND DON’T ASK AGAIN BECAUSE AT BEST YOU WILL GET THE SILENT TREATMENT AND AT WORST YOU WILL LOSE EVEN MORE OF THE RIGHTS WE ARE BEING NICE ENOUGH TO LET YOU HAVE FOR THE TIME BEING.”
But the real answer is far, far more complicated than that.
And in the coming months I will begin exploring this and related questions and their answers and supposed answers and the underlying controversies that are related.
When the subject of civil rights resurfaced earlier in 2020, some very intelligent people quickly pointed out that it never should have gone away and also (equally enthusiastically and rightly) pointed out that the fight for the civil rights of one minority is really the fight for the assurance and protection of the civil rights of ALL who are disadvantaged and oppressed.
This includes the LGBTQ community, indigenous people, those who suffer religious persecution and the mentally ill as well.
There is much overlap and we are all in this together.
The vision that I had for this website as it has evolved from a comic strip that I created to help me deal with the disappearance of Calvin and Hobbes toward the end of the last century into a variety website that is bigger than the britches of the characters it revolves around who were there from the beginning is slowly beginning to take shape.
This is an entertainment website with a purpose, which involves, but is not limited to, the cause of improving the lives of those who live with mental illness. We all have rights. Each of us is unique and each generation has understood more and more that we truly have to look out for each other if we are going to make it through what history throws at us.
We all suffer from mental illness from time to time and we are all affected by it on a daily basis at least indirectly. This medium is beginning to take shape as part of something bigger than itself.
I know I am.
Creator of Conscience And NoNSensE
What I Want to Work on
Sometimes I get on the Social Meds and I get into arguments with folks. Mainly about politics. There is the pineapple on pizza question and the question of whether mayonnaise belongs on hamburgers, but those do not seem to have a grand effect on the fate of Democracy.
An interesting thing happens when I engage people who have opposing political points of view from mine. They end up by telling me to stick to cartooning. Someone actually told me to “Go back to Cartoonland.”
Folks, if this President has not turned this country into Cartoonland, then I don’t know how I could possibly get to such a place any faster.
One thing they seem to be implying is that I am crazy or at least some sort of a loser who doesn’t know how to do anything better than sit around all day and draw comics that probably are not all that good in their estimation. Never you mind that I got straight A’s in Calculus or that I use my fluency in Spanish as a proofreader/editor/Spanish language learning coach to make an honest, sane living.
To these people, I am just a stupid, crazy cartoonist.
But what is really going on when I engage these people that interests me goes beyond just thinking of ways to one-up them or figure out how to say something so “put you in your place” that they are compelled to let me have the last word and slink away from the keyboard and go make a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich and cry over their late-night snack about how I got the best of them in a political argument because my point about how stupid and hypocritical their president is was better than their point about how black people really are rapists who shouldn’t get to vote.
Or that Kamala Harris somehow holds Blacks in this country back and that Trump will save them from her(???)
(they didn’t REALLY say that. no. they really don’t even want you to think they implied that. that would be racist. and they aren’t racist. they are just sharing the results of their “research.”)
But I am having a problem. And it has to do with my wanting to be a good Christian. (trust me, I am not like most Christians; I am very, very progressive, but you have figured that out by now.) I also want to use what I learn from the Buddha and the Tao to have a better relationship with the Christ.
So it seems like it does not really become me or behoove me to tell people to actually “F*** off.”
Where should they go when they do that? I know they want me to go back to “Cartoonland,” but where should they go?
Let me not wander too far away from my point.
I am experiencing guilt. I cannot escape the feeling that I could somehow be more mindful and more skillful in my dealings with these people. But I want to stand up for the causes of Justice and Liberty and Equality.
Is there a kinder way to do that?
I think there is.
I have actually seen people close to me break down and become emotional over the idea that they are somehow losing the country they love to perverts, Satanists and weirdos. I am not kidding. They believe that there is an actual America that is being invaded by people who hate the traditions that made this country bring a tear to the eye of everyone who ever truly understood that it really is the greatest and bestest nation that God ever conceived and that if we lose that, then the Communists win and no one will ever eat an apple pie or watch a baseball or football game again.
We will not be allowed to go to church.
I am not kidding about the fact that people really feel that way.
But I also understand that Communists do not want us going to church and they think they have the right to take over and make sure we don’t since we are sick for wanting to worship as we see fit.
So, like the Buddha, I search for the Middle Way.
But I am very liberal.
And there are conservatives who really feel like liberals hate their God with a passion and somehow want to destroy Him.
And it is kind of weird, because some liberals do.
But I want Freedom and Civil Liberty.
As I write this, having finished washing my Mother’s hair, there is news that Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter activists are fighting in the streets of Salem, Oregon.
So, what do I do about that?
What can I do about that?
I have never stopped being interested in psychology. I mean, I am pretty sure it shows. I am a schizoaffective cartoonist who does a comic strip about a schizophrenic character who hears voices and sees an angel and a devil who argue over which direction he should take in life.
When it comes to political discourse, I want to focus on the question of how the individual’s mental health and personal psychology relate to their approach to politics. I want to research that. Maybe not research it formally since I am not currently a psychology student, but I want to be more mindful of it.
And I may want to research it as an actual student of psychology some day in the not-too-distant future. I think there are already too many people researching group psychology so that they can manipulate and control the masses.
I want to help people have better mental health while resting assured their vote will count.
I want to help conspiracy theorists (yes, help) cope (yes, cope) with the trauma that comes with believing in conspiracy theories that tell them that they don’t really have real freedom and that they can’t make a difference.
Before I get tangled up in political arguments on the Social Meds, I want to be aware of the fact that we all have political affiliations and opinions for psychological reasons.
We vote the way we vote because we think that the Democracy or the Republic we hold near and dear is threatened by maniacs who want to tear it apart and ruin our livelihood, our hopes, our dreams and our freedoms.
On a certain level I recognize that.
So, going forward, I want to reassure these people, if I can, that I am not a monster who is somehow hell-bent upon ripping away their freedom to worship or live the way they want to worship or live.
I do not want to ruin their ability to put pineapple on their pizza or (God-forbid) eat a hamburger without mayonnaise.
But I also do not want them to be able to quash the civil liberties of my countrymen and brothers and sisters by declaring every protest a riot and every rally an uprising.
You see, I am anti-communist.
And I am anti-fascist.
Because I love my Freedom and your Freedom too.
I want this to continue to be the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
Even for people who live in Cartoonland where we put mayonnaise on our pizza.
It just does not happen. And it never will.
by Nate Hyatt, creator of Conscience and Nonsense.
No, people, I do not do a comic strip every day.
And I would not do so even if someone paid me.
It is not that I do not have ideas for comic strips every day. I do. I am quick-witted if I do say so myself and I am always cracking wise around my family if they do say so themselves. Don’t get me wrong. I do dream of things like having the most amazing Patreon of all time with more followers than John Lennon, who by his own declaration was bigger than the Lord God Almighty. But John Lennon was no cartoonist and neither was Paul McCartney, but I digest myself.
I should probably get with the times. I mean Yellow Submarine came out over fifty years ago and I was proud of myself, because I didn’t buy it on VHS. I waited for it to come out on DVD. But as Dr. Seuss would say, “anywho.”
I do not try to draw every single day, because even if I were getting paid, I would not have the energy to pour myself into publishing timely, clever, pertinent and relevant comics on a daily basis to the exclusion of all of the other things I am interested in and love to do. Some people say I do not publish timely, clever, pertinent and relevant comics right now. Again, don’t get me wrong. Forget those guys. Believe me, I am looking into ways to get paid for doing what I love more and more all the time. If I could find out how to get paid to get paid, I would be a banker. Right now, I just need a sensible career.
Yes. A sensible career for a mentally ill, but recovering patient who cannot handle being overwhelmed with things like too much work. But I am willing to work.
But there are also things like… I don’t know. Having a life? There is Buddhism and Taoism and the occasional Joel Osteen sermon for comic relief. There is bowling and fighting zombies in video games using angry plants and expensive lightning bolts. There is a career using my knowledge of the English and Spanish languages. That is actually work. There is college football.
Okay, maybe not so much college football.
Don’t get me wrong. Okay, go ahead and get me wrong if you must, but it’s like this: I love my characters and my comic strip is my baby. I don’t ever want to stop doing it as long as I can. But I don’t want anyone to take it for granted. Including myself.
That is why no website of mine will ever have a page gloriously entitled “Today’s Comic.”
I will only ever break that promise if I have a team of people dedicated to making Conscience and Nonsense happen even without my involvement, or only marginal involvement from me.
When it comes to that, my fans would DEFINITELY have some say so.
Fans like my fabulous web-developer.
Fans like my high-school sweetheart, who follows and advises after many years of friendship and trial and tribulation, who was there from the beginning.
The beginning was back in 1999.
This comic strip has life breathed into it by more than just my picking up a pen and then a pencil and then another pen again and turning raw materials including my brain into something people on the interweb can look at and say, “Oh, hey. That’s different. I wonder if that hairstyle is trademarked?”
So there are people who do have some say-so in what this should do and be and look like and hopefully accomplish.
I have never wanted to get huge and then murder my characters by refusing to do anything else with them and threatening legal action against anyone who might turn them into a clever meme where one of them goes potty on public figures or rival automotive logos or whatever.
(Not that I am encouraging anyone to do that, but how would I stop you?)
I love all kinds of people who have made it big and have tons of fans, and I would honestly (and hopefully obviously) love to be one of those people one day.
They include musicians like the aforementioned Beatles and AC/DC’s Angus, Malcolm, Bon and Brian. Movie-makers like Stanley Kubrick. Painters like Jackson Pollock and Norman Rockwell. More musicians like those dudes in R.E.M. (What’s the frequency, Kenneth?)
But NO ONE EVER, EVER gets to the top or even very far by himself or herself or themselves.
They have people who believe in them. And people who doubt them.
And hopefully people who believe the doubters are wrong and are willing to take a chance on such a calculation.
People like you, to get meta with things (why not; it’s the happening thing to do these days, it is, get meta. I actually worry about overdoing it.)
As long as this is all about me and I can’t see any farther than the end of my own nose, this comic will not be worth following, reading or taking up ones and zeros on a server somewhere.
If you are here, you are on my team.
Welcome to the Funny Farm.
The comic is about Steve and his Conscience and some Nonsense and his roommate, Billy Bob, his neighbor, Candy, his spiritual advisor, Pastor Brown and even the occasional Martini-glass-wearing, drooling inhabitant of the distant, planet Phunetune who lives too many light-years away from you to tell you face to face why he demands your respect and wants to know just who you think you are.
The comic strip, ideally, is about all of us. Except when it is about people and things that do not exist. And even then, it is still about all of us.
Does that mean I do not have a target demographic or a reader avatar?
Absolutely not. It’s professional, artfully inclined, self-starting women who value education and the importance of healthy psychology and have on average. 0.89 children and are between the ages of 27 and 49.
I am actually not joking about that; it kind of is.
And so I never want this comic to be about one person or one kind of person. Not even just people who suffer from or are affected by mental illness. It is about people like the people and hallucinations who appear in it and the people close to them and who are affected by them.
Don’t get me wrong.
I do dream about doing ambitious things with my creation. I dream of one day seeing my characters as huge costumed, goofy-looking versions of their supposedly more-real selves having their pictures taken with frightened children at some God-forsaken theme park. Hopefully my God-forsaken theme park. NonsenseLand!!!
But I also want to do some good for the world with my comic strip. I want Stephen and Billy Bob, also known as Captain Goody Goody and Sidekick Person, (just to give away their secret identities,) well I want them to save the world from ignorance and hate. Save the world with help from Stephen’s psychotic symptoms, a helpful little angel and a mischievous little devil that he hallucinates every day even though he is medication compliant.
Don’t get me wrong. I would never imply that anyone should not take their meds. Steve takes his meds and they don’t completely take away his personality or his uniqueness and they should never, ever do such a thing. It is not so important that Steve see Conscience and Nonsense. To me it is important that the reader of the comic see Conscience and Nonsense.
I know that not everyone will get my comic strip. But I have the hope that one day, I will be able to write and sell lots of books that explain it well enough that people will forget the receipt when they go to return it to the bookstore. Because I also have a dream that one day we will once again be able to go to the book store. Because I also have a dream involving a pigeon that tries to do my taxes but it keeps getting interrupted by a song that I am trying to write about a zombie who has a great idea for a comic strip about a Buddhist monk and a George Harrison song.
Don’t get me wrong. I am medication compliant.
#meta #sequentialart #metastorytelling #cartoonistblog #mentalhealthmedia
A lot has changed…
A lot has changed since the last blog. I have taken down the Interview I had done, since it seemed no longer to be timely. I have worked tirelessly with my web designer to launch a more complete and professional website: ConscienceAndNoNsense.com.
We have experienced, as a nation, a new call to fight for Civil Rights and Justice for people of Color. We have found ourselves in many conversations related to everything from the significance of Juneteenth to the observation of June as Pride Month. And we have found ourselves in a heated election year with perhaps the most controversial and divisive president in the memory of even the oldest people alive. (Never before have we impeached a President of these United States during his first term based on continued behavior that would probably have resulted, upon discovery, in the resignation of any prior holder of the highest office in the land.) And the election of 2020 is not even the biggest headline of 2020.
There is real and felt concern that people attending protests and rallies decidedly political in nature, and sometimes devolving into riots and looting, may be transmitting a disease that keeps so many medical professionals and experts second-guessing and asking us not to quote them on their speculation as to when it might all end.
And now the nations of Europe have begun considering taking the step of not allowing Americans to enter their ports or cross their borders. Because the virus in the United States seems to be redoubling it efforts to cost us the lives or our friends and loved ones.
My original intent for creating these characters that appear in my comic and wanting to spin the whole thing into an online magazine of the same name seems like a distant memory, becoming insignificant and forgotten in the rear-view mirror of my journey.
But I must tell myself that a blow struck for Equality and Civil Rights (whomever they may be for) is a piece of progress and a victory for the rights and needs of those who suffer from mental illness.
In a day and age where everything is about the politics of identity, at least there is hope that the classic “US” and “THEM” mentality can be more well defined as a battle between those who care about the lives, rights and well being of others who suffer, regardless of the reason for their suffering, and those on the other side, who simply only want the right to stand up for self, other be dammed.
All of these causes thankfully overlap. There are more and more LGBTQ people of color. (At least coming out and revealing themselves.) There are more LGBTQ people who sympathize and march in solidarity with moderate Christian Blacks because the cause is just and the moment must not be lost. There are Semites who warn us all that hate is not going away; not today or tomorrow or the next day. They let us know that their people have seen this all before and that we will never have total victory, but we must strive for it nonetheless.
So, once again, I find myself needing to answer the question: Where does a comic strip about a bisexual college-age white man who has schizophrenia and talks to his voices, a cute little angel and a cute little devil, come into play in relation to all of this. Well, there is no perfect answer to that question. But if orange cats and their pals can help sell newspapers that tell the stories of the current events that have always shaped our World and very often themselves take part in devoting bits of their story to letting us all know that Laughter is not dead and never should die, then, no, I do not believe my angel, my devil and my mild-mannered young hero will miss their mark.
At least not enough to make me give up and think that it was stupid to have a comic strip that could, like so many others at least be one still, small voice for social change.
As I write this, my team and I are preparing to launch a small family of websites. Namely conandnonmag.wordpress.com (you are here), ConscienceAndNoNsense.com and ConAndNoN.com, which will all take people on different side trips of the same basic journey and link to each other.
This is the culmination, as well as the beginning, of a dream that would not die. I created this family of characters during the last years of the preceding millennium and had always hoped that they would find for themselves a life worth living and a voice that could speak truth and create reflection and laughter.
They have found their home. Now, I know it is just a comic strip. I know I should not take the whole thing too seriously. I know I can be somewhat grandiose. But I remember the comics that made me laugh so hard through the years. And I also remember the ones that made me want to do the right thing.
Please keep coming back and check out more. This business is just getting off the ground and our team has hopes that it will sail high into the sky.
I would like to thank my Mom and Dad. I would like to thank my old soulmate who never forgot about me and why we crossed paths in the divine scheme of things in the first place. I would like to thank my Sisters. I would like to thank my Brothers-in-law. I would like to thank my Nephews and Cousins and Aunts and Uncles.
I would like to thank the principal and teachers and faculty and other students of Jones High School in Orlando, Florida and William R. Boone High School as well. I would like to thank all of the people who were part of my journey at Valencia College in Orlando. I would like to thank all of the people who shall remain anonymous who were there for me in my struggle to overcome my mental health challenges and my battle with addiction.
And I would like to take this opportunity to memorialize the victims of the tragic hate-crimes that have been visited upon the people of Orlando, my adopted hometown, the United States and the World through its history.
We will never stop fighting or speaking out because we will not let hate win. And as this virus resurges, let us come together and keep our distance as we confront the dual foes of a very real pandemic and the denial that it even exists.
Yes, please join us on this journey as we take flight for causes greater than ourselves.
We hope you will wave when you see us above the clouds and rainbows.
What I hope to accomplish in the absence of a personal cloning device.
by Nathan Hyatt
I guess when you have a blog that from time to time, you should… well…blog. If I had Calvin’s Transmogri-what-a-doogie, I could clone myself and have four or five of me. One of us would attend the University of Florida. One would find gainful employment. One would continue collecting a disability check (that one would probably be me) and one would do YouTube videos.
And another one of us multiple Nathans would blog. Never mind having one of us to take care of everything around the house like fixing meals, doing dishes, mowing the lawn and doing laundry.
Most people have taken what has become somewhat of an unwelcome break during Covid, even though it may have started out as a welcome break. Meanwhile, yours truly has become steadily busier and busier. I had not even mentioned that one of my clones would have to draw Conscience And Nonsense comic strips every day. (I have not drawn a Sunday for months. I actually am not sure how long it has been, but I think it was last year when I published my tenth, and so far, final color Sunday comic. Hopefully, I can assemble a team to help with more.)
It isn’t so much the mood disorder any more. At least not the depressive side of it. I have gotten tons done. I have dabbled in all of the aforementioned things over the course of the last year, and if I do say so myself, I believe I have excelled in many of them to my satisfaction. I actually did the magazine style interview you can see under the Interviews tab, the first time I had done anything like that as a writing project.
Moving took a lot out of me last year, as it does anyone whenever they find themselves needing to for personal reasons or otherwise. Perhaps the reasons are always personal to a degree. The process is personal. I can tell you that.
But I am so thrilled and happy to finally have a website featuring the things that matter to me. And I hope to watch it grow into something that can really make a difference. I have long wanted my comic strip to be a vehicle for social change. Not that I am a Social Justice Warrior. I am a lover, not a fighter, even when it comes to politics.
But I do want to make a difference.
Like Bruce Lee, I believe in the Art of fighting without fighting. Not that I want to go through life tricking my opponent into doing things my way, but I find that psychology, when carefully applied to my situation works wonders.
Right now, I am doing what writing professors call “telling.” In the future with my characters, I want to do what is called “showing.” I want to show relatable characters overcoming social challenges such as pandemics (I already have) and mental illness (I want desperately to do more.)
I know that something has to give in my life. I still have to help my parents although they do not ask too much of me. Things have changed a lot and they keep changing.
There are some things that seem like once-a-week-type things, such as a Sunday comic or a YouTube video. That is just not in the cards right now. For the time being I have to work on this website in my free time. It won’t always live here as a simple WordPress blog type deal. Bigger things are coming and I must be patient.
I must keep concentrating on making my daily efforts coalesce into a life that makes a difference for the mentally afflicted and those beyond.
Even if I cannot work on that every minute of every day for the rest of my life, I know that I hope to make an impact for people who suffer what I have suffered as well as challenges I can only imagine.
They will be there for a long time and they need my help and will for years to come.
I hope to turn my own success story into many more success stories for those who have suffered and have determined not to give up although so often tempted to do just that. I wish to help troubled people find peace. Mental illness, and I hate to call it “illness”, is exhausting, frustrating, degrading and disheartening. I want to help those who suffer from it, and society in general, find ways to cope better with its challenges.
I am not trying to set myself up as some sort of guru or Messianic figure when it comes to working to help the mentally afflicted. That would be a display of mental illness symptoms in and of itself.
I just want to be part of the conversation. A conversation that needs to take place and with more comfort and regularity. A conversation that so many take unheard of steps to try to avoid. At almost any cost. I know that I have wanted to just shut up and get on with my life and live “normally.” Be normal.
Be normal, Sparky. Now, sit!
It isn’t that simple. And it isn’t that complicated. If the conversation goes silent, it needs to be started again until it can be had openly, honestly and safely.
Our mental health depends on it. And in these tough times, more and more people are suffering from it. More of us, and quite frankly all of us, from time to time, need help.
Someone needs to step up.
#stepup #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalhealthactivism #schizophrenia #mentalhealthblog
Finally…Conscience And Nonsense have a website.
Welcome to the (temporary) blogging and comic strip showing off home of ConAndNon! by Nate Hyatt
Just before the turn of the century (this century) I was really bummed out about the disappearance of “Calvin and Hobbes” from the funny pages. No comic strip had captivated my imagination like Bill Watterson’s young boy and his stuffed tiger. Not Charlie Brown and the fact that he could never win. Not Garfield and his derisive take on everything he encountered (with the exception of lasagna.) Not Blondie, which had its moments and seemed well executed, but not magical. Not even Pearls Before Swine which delivers a very different type of payoff from Calvin and Hobbes. One that I still look forward to.
I remember looking at Calvin and Hobbes comics that my drama teacher had cut out and stuck to the walls of her classroom. It was 1989 and I was in the ninth grade. I remember feeling just like Calvin in his garlic costume stuck in the bathroom when he was supposed to be onstage. I was onstage trying to execute my part in the school play when Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap turned into a farce instead of a murder mystery. Calvin and Hobbes had always been so relatable and I was, like so many others, sad to see it go over what felt like senseless politics. Maybe I should blame the infringing stickers that showed Calvin going number one on some truck owners’ less-preferred automotive brand.
I used Conscience and Shmonshuntz (the comic’s name in 1999) to comfort myself after the loss of Calvin and Hobbes. It featured my little angel and what I hoped people would think was an adorable little round devil following a slacker named Steve around and trying to get him to see and do things each their own way. I called the angel “Professor Conscience” and of course the devil was the “Shmonshuntz.” I had to change the name since no one could spell, pronounce or remember “Shmonshuntz.” These days, my creation is “Conscience And Nonsense.”
Steve had a sometimes, but seldom featured friend/cousin/best-friend/fellow alcoholic named Billy Bob. Sometimes the comic featured Steve and Billy Bob without Conscience and Nonsense. For a long time, I had trouble finishing comic strips or getting up the nerve to submit to any syndicates for fear that I would actually get syndicated and then not be able to do comics and Sundays all the time due to my bouts with major depression. I had a hard time finishing my comics by inking them in and then erasing and doing the finishing touches.
In 2010, I did try to get syndicated, sending my comic package to the big six. My ex-wife had given up trying to encourage me, but was cautiously optimistic. I had held down a steady job and was learning skills to find work in an office. I included work that I had published in the Orlando Sentinel (one editorial cartoon showing George W. Bush crossing the finish line more than once in the 2000 Presidential election.) I included the comics that I had done for the company newsletter at the legal supply and stationery company where I had worked previously. My favorite was the one representing the thought of the week by Wyatt Earp, who was quoted as saying “Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” The comic showed the Old West lawman sitting at a poker table and pulling a gun on a dealer who was flinging out playing cards face up in all directions.
I got one and only one boiler-plate rejection notice from Creators Syndicate. I never heard back from any other organization. I never did try to get syndicated after that. Maybe it was because one of my characters was the devil. Well, he wasn’t THE Devil. Just a minor 3rd rate demon from “heck.” Or Brooklyn. Scott Adams, creator of “Dilbert” said that having a devil character might be a problem. He went through that with “Phil, the Prince of Insufficient Light.”
In 2017, I dusted off my characters and decided to do something with them. Even if it didn’t mean I would make money. I had had a long bout with what I would ultimately find out was a form of schizophrenia. Stephen J. Cumberdale, who is the character who has Professor Conscience for a conscience and Nonsense for an Id, has schizophrenia like I do. He struggled with alcoholism like I did. Billy Bob became a fellow alcoholic with his own addiction and behavioral issues.
My comic found a following among my friends in recovery. I used my characters to tell stories about all the subjects that were important and near and dear to my heart, including the time I quit my job to start a new religion. And the times I was institutionalized. And some of my delusions as well.
These days, my characters are among my many friends. They do not so much do what I make them do. They have taken on a life of their own. I wonder what they would do and their stories just kind of come together.
It is my intention that they will help tell many stories and raise awareness about the difficulty so many people still face in their personal struggles. Their fans are my friends too. Friends in the LGBTQ community. Friends who are nurses on the front line in a global pandemic. Friends lost to addiction and depression. Friends who use their art like I do to give hope and encouragement to anyone who struggles and needs a positive message. Friends in recovery who believe in something with all their heart.
I want my comic to be a vehicle for social change.
My creations help me carry out my mission statement; the one that hangs in a framed 8 by 10 on my wall:
“To tell useful stories and to aid others in doing the same.”
I will continue telling those stories and more importantly I will listen to others share theirs and let them know their story makes a difference.
Follow Conscience And Nonsense on Instagram: @ConAndNon
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