A Year in Haiku: The Emotional Arcs of 2022

I haven’t had the time or energy to finish the chapter of Infrared Isolation I’ve been working on, so I decided to collect the highlights of my daily haiku from last year. They’re more of a way to do some daily journaling than a proper attempt to employ the traditional poetry format, but the following poems are representative of the year I had, each one of them named after the day I wrote it. It’s kind of funny, but looking back through my collection of thoughts and feelings without context, I can’t remember what about a quarter of them are referencing. It’s nice to see that my pursuit of a simple, quick emotional expression has done just as good a job of managing my general anxiety as journaling did, but without all of the frequently frustrating and depressing details attached to it. Now I can look back at what I wrote and not worry about being reminded of specific troubles. Instead, I can focus on reviewing the emotional arcs of my life over the course of 2022.

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The Power of Influence and the Folly of Originality

As a person interested in creating my own stories, worlds, and whatnot, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to create something “original.” In terms of criticism, I think the word has been so bandied about and overused that it has lost most of its meaning, leavied as it has been against everything from creative works acknowledging their influences to entirely unrelated and unconnected works that coincidentally had similar themes. In this vast, wide world of ours, it is not unthinkable that two incredibly different people might have similar ideas. Not everything alike is a copy or partial copy, and there’s nothing wrong with copying something if you’re planning to build off it.

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The Perils of Creative Expression

I’ve been working on a new poem (goes up tomorrow). I got a draft done pretty quickly, forty-five lines across three pairs of stanzas, lots of nice imagery, all of that in about twenty-five minutes. I had a super clear image, a theme to work with, and a form that rapdily emerged from the way the thing arranged itself in my head. Not my fastest work, but still pretty good for a first draft. I spent another five minutes over the rest of the day reading it and making small adjustments and then sent it off to a reader for a quick review. I was expecting a comment about the end, that it would feel very abrupt or like it shouldn’t have been the end, and that’s the comment I got back. See, I had more I wanted to say, but I couldn’t find a way to say it, so I tried to wrap it up there. After all, not everything needs to go into one poem. But clearly it was missing something, so I decided I’d spend some time today to work on it.

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Love or Idolatry

One of my favorite songs from Steven Universe is the end credits song, “Love Like You.” Throughout the show, it is played in short snippets as the credits roll and it takes almost two entire seasons to go through the entire song. The song’s creator, who also created the show, has gone on the record in recent years, to talk about it. When the soundtrack of the show came out, compiling most of the show’s songs up to that point, Rebecca Sugar said that, initially, the song was about an alien who wanted to be able to love the Human she was in relationship with the way he loved her. She wanted to feel how he felt and surmised that if she could return his feelings, then maybe she would no longer feel like she falls short of how he sees her.

The lyrics paint a picture of someone who doesn’t understand the idea of love, except in the context of the way it makes the singer’s partner act around her or see her. The singer doesn’t think very highly of herself and is constantly measuring herself up against the way her partner sees her and, in her eyes, falling short. It’s almost heartbreaking. “I wish that I knew what makes you think I’m so special.” It gets me any time I actually listen to the song instead of just letting it play in the background. As someone with self-esteem issues and a history of difficulty making meaningful, lasting connections with people, the song resonates rather strongly.

After spending the evening with my girlfriend, this song came on the radio (well, my iPod was plugged into my car radio and the playlist eventually cycled to it) and it made me think about the nature of love, the way we think people see us, and how we see ourselves. Love can be great because it can show us how we look to someone and, sometimes, even let us catch a glimpse of the person our partner sees us as. At the same time, if we feel like our partner is not actually seeing us but some false version of us or they gloss over any problems, it can be discouraging to constantly be compared to this version of ourselves that we feel isn’t grounded in reality. That could easily make self-esteem or self-value problems worse.

A while after giving the initial interview about “Love Like You,” Rebecca Sugar has said she now views the song as being more about her relationship with all of the Steven Universe fans she has met as the show grows in popularity. Because she has created this show and so many people feel so strongly about it, they transfer some of that attention and love to her, the show’s creator. She said that she feels like she can’t measure up to the sort of almost worshipful adulation they heap on her and that the song now speaks more to the way she wishes she could return all that love but can’t figure out how to.

From what I’ve read, a lot of popular creators feel like this, but particularly the ones who spend a lot of time meeting fans, such as show creators, voice actors, writers, and so on. I wouldn’t be surprised if musicians felt this way as well. It can probably be rather alienating, to be worshiped by almost everyone you meet. To be loved so strongly and so enthusiastically by someone who doesn’t actually know you that you can’t help but feel the weight of their expectations settle more heavily on your shoulders with each new person who gushes about how much they love you.

I think I can sometimes have that effect on people. And not just celebrities or creators I admire. People in my day-to-day life. As I’ve mentioned in the past few days, I have a tendency to invest completely and quickly in relationships. I think that can probably be overwhelming for a lot of people because they start to feel like I’m loving the person they act like they are rather than the person they see themselves as. I think some of my past relationships fell apart for exactly this reason, even if other reasons were given. I mean, how can you communicate honestly with someone who you feel doesn’t really understand you?

I’m pretty sure I do that to my girlfriend sometimes, too. We often have a communication issue where we use different words to say the same thing and get frustrated because we can’t seem to make the other person understand what we mean or it seems like they’re being intentionally obstinate. We usually figure it out pretty quickly, thankfully, but it can be discombobulating when it happens multiple times in a conversation.

I like to think that I look for the best in people and try to appreciate them for who they try to be or who they want to be. I like looking for the good in people and trying to look for the positive aspects of people’s lives. I don’t like being negative when I can avoid it, since I have a tendency to be gloomy and melancholic at the drop of a hat, but I think I can understand how this would be frustrating to people I’m close to. Sometimes, you don’t want people to always see the light in you. Sometimes you want someone to acknowledge the darkness. Not because you want them to fix it, but because you want them understand and love all of you, not just the golden idol they seem to worship.

Which isn’t to say that I’m worshiping some perfect form of my girlfriend. As I said, I only THINK I do it SOMETIMES. This was just what I thought about during my meditation when I woke up in the middle of the night thanks to a leg cramp and had to spend half an hour stretching my muscles and drinking water. Personally, I don’t think I worship perfect versions of people, I just love strongly and love people as they are. But I know exactly what I mean when I say things and I know the intentions behind my every action. I’m not always that great at letting other people know those things right away. I have a tendency toward muted reactions, very little emoting, and not making myself clear when I speak because I get my thoughts jumbled up and miss the important bits that would have made it all sensible.

I want people to see themselves the way I see them. I want to see myself the way I see other people. But I think that, when it comes to other people, all that comes across is the love and not enough of the projection of how I see them. When it comes to myself, all I get is the projection of how I see myself and not enough of the love. I need to work on letting people see my emotions a little more and doing a better job of communicating my feelings in their entirety, rather than just the snippet conveyed by the words coming out of my mouth.

I don’t know if you’ve put together the pieces from past blog entries or, I don’t know, the title of my blog, but I have a hard time getting the right words out when it comes to talking. Or, at least, I feel like I do. This is going to be hard, but I think it’ll be worth it if I ever figure it out.

Too bad I can’t just write everything I want to say to people and have them treat it like I just spoke it to them… It works fine until someone needs a response right away. Writing it correctly takes time and effort away from a conversation. It isn’t exactly plausible if you’re trying to communicate with a partner or a close friend when something is going down.

At least trying something is better than silence. I always try to express myself rather than sit in silence. I’ll give myself that much credit. Sometimes, though, it feels like silence would have been better. It can be difficult to tell.