In contrast to most people suffering under capitalism, I was born to two well off parents. I never had to worry about not having food or water. I wasn't really abused by the system in any way. I always kept my manners even at the most heated of moments. I attended one of the finest schools known in this galaxy. Despite the high expectations, I never struggled to understand the curriculum and never truly had to try. I participated in just about every extracurricular activity I was allowed to be in. Theatre, Audio Visual, Art, Fencing, Debate, Archery...all of them. Under all of these obligations, I continued to persevere without so much as a thought. The only pain I had was this thorn in the back of my mind. A rock that would never leave one's metaphorical shoe. Even after surpassing all of the expectations set before me by my parents, teachers, and peers, no one could ever look at me. They could look me in the eyes. Maybe share a laugh while reminiscing about an experience we shared many years prior. They could be as close to my bare skin as my own lips are to one another, yet never see me. This was not lost on me and I was no exception.
When one is capturing a moment in time through art, it is good to be cognizant of the effect your perspective has on the image you are creating. You must be aware of what it is you are drawing, not just in the way it looks to your eyes, but the way it is outside of your limited view. What shape is it? What type of material is it made of? How well does light reflect off of that material? You must know everything about it to its very core. It is this fact alone that makes self portraits an excellent exercise. You must observe your outer shape for what it is. Take in all that you hate about it or love about it and prevent yourself from tampering with it. Beyond that, you must know what you are on the inside as well. You must face yourself no matter what is there. And if, like me, there is nothing there, you will be unable to create anything with life on your canvas.
This was my first, and only, bad grade that I dragged to my parent's doorstep. Their expression explained it enough. I had done well in all of my subjects and the arts were no exception. "How weak can you be if you can't even draw yourself." they reasoned. What stung is that they were correct. I was truly pathetic. Unable to do a drawing of something I must look at everyday. As poetic justice, my parents thought it best that, as a punishment, I stand completely still and look at myself in a mirror. Stripped down to nothing except that which the gods gave me on my birth, I stood there looking at the pale imitation looking back at me. Perhaps it too was being punished by having to witness me. Despite my lengthy reflection upon the aspects that make me a person, I was unable to see anything within. It was mind wrenching having nothing to look at but an image of your hollow shell, but I counted myself lucky that this wasn't going to be a reoccurring punishment that I must undergo.
After 5 years and 358 more sessions of this, my parents' eventual death approached much faster than I was prepared for. Its something you always believe yourself prepared for, yet never quite are. Their descent into the grave lasted 3 weeks. I was working a job under the company my parents owned at the time and was encouraged to take time off to see them to their next life. Upon arrival into their room, I was ordered to paint out the scene before me in excruciating detail and I could not leave until it was done. 68 hours of blood and sweat lead to the final product. A magnum opus containing all of the pain and despair of the room. I hated it with every fiber of my being. With this done, they sent me away. They brought in accountants and managers from all departments in all of their owned companies to conjure up a final will and testament. These people spent more time around my parents in their final moments than I ever would. After an agonizing week later from the final draft of the will, the bells began to toll. I'd like to say that St. Peter himself descended upon the hollow husks to help them ascend the gates that awaited them, but I knew better than that. With the tolling of the bells, a pit to the furthest reaches of hell opened up for them to begin their slow descent into anguish. At least something went right that week. I know I will be seeing them down there when my turn comes and I must take the leap into flame when I wither.
Before anyone funerals or acts of grief, an immediate meeting between the companies owned by the newly dead husks in the room was needed. I was walked into a room that had a large mahogany table in center with gold accenting the piece. The chairs surrounding this plateau were filled by CEO's and COO's and every type of acronym you could think of. My distant siblings arrived for the meeting along with many uncles and aunts all hoping to claim a piece of the proverbial pie. As if to act as a leader, one of these CEO's got up to pass out copies of the will. Say what you will about my parents, but they were quite the experts at diplomacy. Without so much as a discussion, everyone was content with what they received. My siblings received large shares in companies that matched their corresponding skill sets. They were even each given multi page documents detailing exactly what their newly acquired company did and how they could extend its wealth in the coming years. I was not given control over a company and, instead, received the estate and everything it contained along with all of it's staff. Along with this, a portion of their wealth. The rest was liquidated to serve the many companies they owned.
This was actually quite nice. Assuming I played my cards right, I would never have to work again. Owning a company must be nice, but there are many ways that would have stressed me out. Instead, I had no obligations. No job required. Nothing. Perfectly fitting for myself, all things considered. Upon the final page left for me by my parents laid a final passing message. Not one of heartfelt farewell or concern, but of instruction.
"You are too weak to take control of our companies, so stay out of your siblings' way. Hang that painting in the main foyer as a reminder of your weakness. If you can't even manage that, then we have plans in place to make it happen. This is the last time we will ever take care of you. Adieu." -Martha and David Johnson