The Man And His Shadow

Hi guys, here is a short story I wrote a while back, I wanted to share this with you. It seems a little dark in the beginning, but I promise the ending is pretty bright.

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The Man And His Shadow

One day, a man was walking down the street on his way to work. His thoughts were on his life as he looked into his passing image in the store windows.

“What has happened to you, you look horrible.” He thought as he turned away
from his reflection.

His stomach rumbled a bit in passing the faint smell of delicious coffee and pastries emanating from the small café on the corner.

“If only you had woken up earlier, maybe you would have time to eat, not that it
matters, you don’t have a dime to your name. You’re such a loser, you know that?”

The man’s expression soured and his shoulders slumped a bit. He made his way to the bus stop and stood next to a group of people, none looked up from what they were doing.

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“You don’t even exist, you could die tomorrow and no one would notice. You are
worthless.”

He looked out at the passing cars as people made their way to work. Some were talking on their cell phones, others seemed barely awake, and some were applying make up.

Just then, a man in a beautiful expensive car drove up. He had a smile on his face and exuded a confident warmth.

“Look at that, if you actually had done something right in your life, maybe you would drive your own car instead of taking the bus with all the other losers.”

The man looked up briefly at the crowd and then back at the crack in the cement by his feet. The bus arrived and he fumbled with his change, and felt slightly embarrassed that he had taken as long as he did.

“You do this every morning, you make yourself look like an ass everywhere you go. You are such an idiot.”

Not looking at people, he made his way to the handrail and stood there quietly as the bus took off. A beautiful woman stood at the other end of a group of commuters. The man always looked forward to seeing her, but had never had the nerve to talk to her.

“Are you kidding me, what the hell do you have to offer her? She would laugh in your face, or vomit. If you talk to her you’re just going to make yourself look stupid again.”

He looked away disappointed, and wondered if he would ever meet someone. He glanced at his reflection on the bus windows and noticed something on his shoulder.

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When he looked down at his shoulder, there was nothing there. Looking back at his reflection, he could distinctly make out a form of a small person sitting on his slumped shoulders. It bent down and whispered in his ear.

“Not only are you an idiot and a loser but now you’re going crazy too. You should just end your meaningless life now and put everyone who knows you out of their misery.”

He blinked his eyes and the image was gone.

Maybe it was just the fact that he was hungry, he couldn’t afford to start going crazy now on top of everything else that sucked in his life. 

After getting off the bus, he watched the beautiful woman walking away, a dream that would never come true. Suddenly, a cab honked it’s horn, startling the man. 

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“Watch where you’re going you idiot!” Screamed the cab driver.

The man jumped out of the street and looked around, embarrassed.

“Even the cab drivers know you’re an idiot. You might as well walk around with a sign that says “I’m an idiot”.

The rest of the day pretty much went the same for him. He avoided talking to people, and just kind of kept to himself. The conversations he had were either about work or mindless small talk.

That night as he was getting ready for bed, he looked into the mirror and saw the shadowy form sitting on his shoulder again.

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Frightened, he looked away. After a few seconds, he felt himself compelled to
look again, and the shadow was still there.

“Who are you?” The man asked.

“I am you. A form of you anyway.” The shadow said.

“What does that mean? Why are you here? Am I going insane?” The man questioned.

“It means” The shadow shrugged “that I am the voice that tells you what you think you should hear. I am you, telling you what you can’t do, in order to keep you safely where you are most comfortable.”

“I have been conditioned by you all your life.” The shadow continued “You have told me what to think, what to say, and how to remind you.”

“My whole life?” The man asked.

“Yeah, but our relationship was much different when we were young. I was much brighter then. Our world was one of wonder, exploration, and imagination. We played for hours and loved openly. There was nothing we couldn’t do, and we did everything our hearts desired.”

“What happened?” The man asked.

“We were introduced to fear, limitations, intimidation, by words or actions. You started to tell me to remind you of these things so you wouldn’t get yourself into trouble. All of these fears and limitations were based on other people’s opinions. We believed them as our own because they would keep us safe.

After a while we were just not good enough. We believed we had to be something other than we are in order to be worthy, worth it, or good enough. We consoled ourselves by saying nobody was perfect, but everyone else seemed so much more perfect than we could ever be. So a shadow filled my light, and I became darker. It became my job to remind you of your imperfection.”

“Why does it have to be this way?” The man asked.

“It doesn’t. I am tired of telling you horrible things based in lies. The truth is, you are perfect, you are the most perfect and beautiful version of you that exists in this universe. You are a unique gift to the world.”

The man looked deep in the mirror, and tears swelled in his eyes. He saw that the shadow was actually him. The shadow was the smoke that had prevented the light from shining within him.

The shadow was a lie that hid the truth from him. In that moment he caught a glimpse of his perfection. He realized that almost everything he believed to be true about himself was a lie he believed. The light shone within him, the light that was always so familiar.

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He made a choice at that moment based on what he wanted out of life. A choice based on fearlessness and limitless potential. He made a choice, looked at the person in the mirror and said…

“I love you.”

I Refuse To Be Normal, It’s A Choice

There was a quote that I ran across recently that got me thinking about my life and whether or not I fit into what people call the “Normal” category.

“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for in order to get to the job you need, to pay for the clothes, and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” –Ellen Goodman

One of my favorite artists Salvador Dali once noted “I am not strange – I am just not normal.” and boom! I was inspired to live my life like a deranged curly mustache man.

Rafi-Perez

Normality is defined in the dictionary as: “the condition of being normal; the state of being usual, typical, or expected”… that sounds so freakin boring, it makes want to hurl a pig into the sky.

That being said, I spent a long time trying desperately to be normal. I even succeeded in being everything that you are supposed to be, and I lived a life very similar to what Ellen Goodman describes above.

I refuse to be normal

But alas, that felt like someone was stepping on my throat while I slowly sunk into a vat of molasses.

Listen, I’m not against having a job, a house, or clothes, I don’t think those are the things that make you normal… They’re just things that you do and have.

But I do think that the way in which you interact with those things, and the way you live life is what makes you feel normal.

In my opinion, there is nothing usual, typical, or expected of you, other than the things you decided are true about your personality, or the type of person you are. We live in a society where we are surrounded by labels. People desperately looking for, tagging, and categorizing similarities within one another. It allows people to have a sense of understanding if they can fit you into a category.

I refuse to be normal

Yesterday, a friend of mine made a statement saying that her friend and I had very similar taste in movies, because he likes super hero movies and supernatural.

I thought to myself, “I love all kinds of movies, not just super hero and supernatural movies, that’s a weird thing to say.”

Let’s get something straight, I love movies, I love the creative side of movies, screenwriting, story telling, acting, direction, location, cinematography, the whole nine yards. I’m the guy that watches the behind the scenes, and will watch the movie in it’s entirety with the director talking over all the scenes. I own books about the subject, that’s how much of a movie nerd I am.

At first, I was a little offended by this very simple comment, but it was based on an observation of what my friend has experienced about me. She’s experienced superhero movies and supernatural. She hasn’t experienced me, she doesn’t know who I was before I met her and the things that shape my thinking.

Honestly, she’s a sweetheart and didn’t mean anything by it, it’s just something she does every once in a while. Because really, who cares, it’s just movies.

I refuse to be normal

The truth is that we can barely figure out who we are and what we like, let alone have someone else have you all figured out, and know what you truly like.

On a side note: I get to meet Klee every day and fall in love with her all over again, because deep down I know that she’s not the same person I met yesterday, and I get excited about meeting who she is today. No matter how similar she might be to yesterday, there is always something new.

The thing is that “Normal” is trying to have everything and everyone categorized in similar categories, and fitting into a category yourself.

But you can’t fit into a category, you are ever changing and evolving, you are becoming things, and letting go of things. You are not the same person you were last week, nor will you be the same person you are now in a year. We are constantly in flux.

In my opinion, normal, is not a natural state of being human. I refuse to be “normal” because it is torturous to me to deny my quirks and eccentricities to fit into a world that isn’t even sure what normal is anyway. I refuse to be labeled because as a human being I am too dynamic and ever changing.

Rafi and Klee Boogeyman Boogie
Rafi and Klee Boogeyman Boogie

Over the past few years, I have learned to be proud of who I am and to not let anyone – no matter who they are, try to manipulate, change, or label me, because I am not who “they think I should be” or “they think they have me pegged.” Yeah, life is too short to worry about all that jazz anyhow.

Go forth and be who you are – most of all revel in your uniqueness and be proud of your qualities that make you innately you.

-Rafi

 

 

In The Mouth Of Madness Again

As some of you know, we recently took a nice long impromptu trip to explore the country, see an eclipse, and visit family. A necessity for anyone that is wondering what this whole life thing is about. It’s also for anyone that wants to throw caution to the wind and lose their mind.

Rafi and Klee In Franklin Tennessee

Now, I know, I know… why would anyone want to lose their mind?

Well, think about it, when you get stressed out, where does it usually take place? When you are missing something in the moment, because your mind is thinking about your bank statement, where does that take place?

Why do you think people meditate? it’s the best way to train yourself how to shut off your brain and pay attention to what is around you.

I’ll be honest with you, I look forward to times in my life where I am completely out of my mind and enveloped in the moment. Creating art does that for me, taking walks in nature, sitting by a bonfire, star gazing, singing and dancing like a ridiculous buffoon, plus anything else that makes me lose a sense of time.

Magic Seasons Trees Textured Original Painting by artist Rafi Perez on Canvas

I focus on that when I’m creating, every piece is my attempt to slow time down and pull the viewer out of their mind and into the moment. To lose themselves in my art, to give them a breather so they can come back from it without the mass jumble of thoughts that preoccupy busy lives.

Well, that’s what I’m attempting, along with giving a sense of empowerment, happiness, and a general sense of well being. I like challenges :). I believe happiness is a result of  just taking a break every once in a while and letting our minds go. Well, it’s just a thought.

I’ll leave you with this, stare at this for a while and go out of your mind.

Magic Seasons Winter Tree Textured Original Painting by artist Rafi Perez on Canvas 18X24

Stay awesome!

-Rafi

 

 

Hurricane Irma Is Coming?

This morning I woke up in a slight panic as I looked around my studio and realized that I may be in the path of a powerful hurricane. If Irma heads towards Pensacola, I could potentially lose everything I have worked so hard for.

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Of course, this thought came to me in a half state of sleep, having come out of a weird nightmare. In this dream I was holding on to my art table as I floated in turbulent flood waters out to sea with an elf who had been hiding in my yard for decades.

The truth is, when I think about it, the only thing that makes me nervous, is the idea that my home and art studio will be damaged. The fact of the matter is that Klee and I will be long gone if the hurricane comes anywhere near us.

I can always rebuild. I started my art career from nothing, and if I had to, I can do it again.

Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that.

For now, I stay hopeful. I send my prayers to Texas, and keep an eye on these new storms and prepare accordingly.

Please be safe everyone.

 

 

Best of The Coast 2017 – Will You Vote For Us?

As some of you know, I won best artist for 2016 which was so awesome and I can’t thank you enough for making that happen. I’ve gotten to use it as boasting rights well into 2017 with statements like “Oh yeah? Well, were you voted best artist of the coast for 2016? I think not!”

Rafi and Klee Best Of The Coast

Actually, I don’t do that at all, I get really shy around people that congratulate me for the award, then I secretly try to change the subject.

Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of the accomplishment, and I am so grateful to everyone that voted for me, but I’m a weird bird that is still working on receiving compliments and recognition.

Rafi and Klee Best Of The Coast

That being said, there are two days left to vote. and I would love for you to vote for Klee and I if you are absolutely in love with our work.

Here’s the thing, we love you whether you vote for us or not, but it would be really cool for you to vote for your favorite peeps regardless if they are us or not.

Rafi and Klee Best Of The Coast

Head over to Best of the Coast Voting and submit your ballot by July 31st.

Please keep me in mind for the Best Artist Click Here.

And Klee Angelie Jewelry for Best Unique Jewelry Click Here.

Thank you for your continued love and support!!! You guys are SO AWESOME!!

-Rafi

Personal Power Art

They say that your surroundings are a reflection of what is going on in your mind. I believe that, and often find myself saying the words “cluttered house, cluttered mind.” Although, admittedly I say that mostly to the pack rats that are in my family who have a collection of printers from the 1980’s.

I think there is a value to being selective of what you allow into your space, making sure that it makes you feel one of three things, beautiful, empowered, and optimistic.

Internal universe By Rafi Perez

Now, I know that my personal brand of art is not for everyone, and because of the nature of art, it is open to all types of interpretation. But the following pieces are meant to empower your surroundings, thus empowering yourself.

I Am Fierce By Rafi Perez I AM FIERCE – The fierceness of someone who stands confident in their own determination of what the world is supposed to be, surrounds themselves by things that make them feel empowered. When someone makes it their priority to change their environment by getting rid of the things that cause them to question themselves… They are truly fierce.

 

Expressions By Rafi Perez

EXPRESSIONS SERIES – The Expressions Series represents a snapshot of time where the blinders are shattering. It is based on a experience that I had that completely changed my life. My life literally fell apart right before my eyes, and for the first time I saw the construct for what it was, blinders composed of my beliefs that I had picked up from other people that held me back.

 

Made Of Light By Rafi Perez

MADE OF LIGHT – The other day, I looked in the mirror and saw myself coming apart.
I exploded into a vortex of light and color.
Suddenly, I couldn’t remember my story.
I saw light,
I was light,
I am light.
How could I ever judge my beauty?

This piece is a representation of the power I believe we all have within us. I hope it will be a constant reminder of your awesomeness and ability to overcome any adversity.

 

Wrapped In Gold By Rafi Perez

WRAPPED IN GOLD – We forget that we are star stuff. Gold is star stuff, and so are we. We wrap ourselves in something precious, and should always remember that we are precious… That, begins in the mind.

This work of art is a reminder and representation of the power we have to create circumstances in our mind… and whether or not we have taken control of that power.

To view the rest of my personal power collection Click Here.

Stay awesome! Take a good look around, it’s always a good time to reevaluate your surroundings.

-Rafi

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend

The other day was a pretty difficult day for us. We finally had to make the decision to say goodbye to our old car. I know what you might be thinking, “Rafi, it’s just a car… get over it.”

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The truth is, it IS just a car, an inanimate object, a piece of machinery that got us around from place to place. It is also so much more than that.

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PBS Interview

The Explorer was our home, our little engine that could, our adventure partner, a place where we felt safe, and most importantly our friend. The Explorer was our little sanctuary away from it all, a place where we felt empowered and safe.

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Even when we were no longer living in it, we found ourselves reaching out for the security that beautiful little car provided us. walking outside to take a difficult phone call ended up with us sitting in the back of the explorer, the way you would sit on a front porch that you love.

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The explorer had a similar story to our own before it hit the road with us. It had sat neglected for years, and was rusting away, without doing what it had been created to do. Klee and I gave it a completely new life and in the process created a new life for ourselves.

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There were many great conversations, tears, laughter, breakthroughs, moments of insecurity, love, and amazement in our great little home on the road.

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It represented our joy, our freedom, and our hope for the future. It brought smiles to so many people around us and became a part of our story.

 

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But, it finally reached a point where it gave all that it could give. It never broke down, even though people looked at us funny in 2009 when we hit the road in it. They said it wouldn’t travel for very long, it truly was our little engine that could.

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Neither one of us could bring ourselves to send it to a junk yard, so we donated it to a place that helps children, this seemed like the right kind of viking send off this little car deserves.

We sat in the back one last time, and had a really difficult time getting up from the place we knew so well. We still shed many tears that day.

Saying Goodbye To Art Car
Saying Goodbye To Art Car

I’d like to think that the Explorer will have a new life helping children in some way and continue to be an amazing and magical force of good in the world.

We’ll miss our friend dearly.

4 Reasons Why I Paint Trees

It’s no secret that I love to paint trees. In fact, one of my longest running collections is a series called the Seasons Of Change. It’s an abstract representation of the four seasons in its constant cycle of change.

Rafi Perez Art 2016
Rafi Perez Art 2016

So, in case you are wondering why, I think I’ll let you into the crazy tangle of optimism that is my mind.  Here are the four things that I believe we can learn from trees.

Trees are rooted in the here and now.

I believe that we are all rooted in the here and now, but we tend to forget that. We could easily live in the past, reliving an experience over and over. It’s easy to taint what is happening right now in front of you with some drama from your past or some anxiety you have about the future. But really, when you think about it, all that matters is what is happening right now.

Rafi Perez Art 2016

Trees are constantly growing upwards.

We tend to look at our lives sometimes and think that we can plateau, or be stuck for years in some situation that sucks. Although it may be true that we are slowing down our growth by stubbornly holding on to something that doesn’t help our situation, we are still growing. No one else can see it, sometimes you don’t even notice it, but the growth is so powerful that the moment you remove that stubborn thing, you explode upwards. It’s like a tree growing through concrete.

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Trees have a lot going on under the surface.

Just like us, trees have a lot going on under the surface. What we can learn from trees is simple, make what is under the surface something that supports you. Trees get nutrients, a foundation, and connection from their roots. Some trees are an interconnected network of support to one another and it all happens under the surface. I think if we looked inside ourselves and made it a point to nourish, support, build a positive foundation, and connect with love for one another, we would be surprised at how strong we can become.

Rafi Perez Art 2016

Trees are all common, but so unique.

If there was one tree left on the planet, people would travel from all over the world to lay eyes on it. You would take in its beauty and wonder. You would actually stop for at least five minutes to admire it and take in how amazing it is. No two trees are exactly alike. Similar, but never identical. Just like us, no two humans are alike and yet we are so common that we are willing to compare, contrast, and judge each other based on false pretenses. We are all beautiful and unique, and it is about time we remember that.

So next time you take a walk somewhere and pass that tree that you have passed a million times without glancing at it, just pause for a moment and say hi.

-I love you

Rafi

Getting My Morning Started Off Right.

So, I have a confession… The last few days I have been in a confusing place when it comes to my own sense of happiness.

Honestly, it’s something that I think about a lot, and feel like I am constantly reevaluating where I’m at, and what I can do better to feel more fulfilled and whole.

rafi happy sketches

This morning, I had somewhat of a revelation.

My mornings, for the most part can be pretty routine:

  1. Drag myself out of bed.
  2. Think about how I feel and determine what I can do to feel better.
  3. Listen to an uplifting podcast or audio-book.
  4. Drink coffee and read positive quotes.
  5. Clear my mind for 5 or 10 minutes or meditate as you hipsters like to call it.
  6. Think about the here and now, and what I’m grateful for.
  7. Plan my day, look at my calendar.
  8. Get a little workout in, I prefer to just go for walks, mostly I just lift heavy things.
  9. Shower, and get started with what ever I’m doing at the moment.

That’s how an ideal start to my day would look. Lately, its been looking more like this:

  1. Drag myself out of bed.
  2. Think about how I feel and wonder why I feel that way… usually blaming someone or something.
  3. Drink coffee and begrudgingly look at my calendar.
  4. think about how I really should meditate or something.
  5. Feel overwhelmed and like there’s not enough hours in the day.
  6. Rush to get started, try to do everything… and I mean EVERYTHING.

So, needless to say that my days are a little less focused on well being, and more focused on the task at hand. Whether the task is in front of me or inside my head, makes no difference, it’s just all reactive.

I prefer to be in a powerful state of mind in order to create my art. The underlying message is meant to be one of self empowerment and happiness, and if I’m not feeling those things, the art is going to reflect that. So, although I have all these things to do, I do none of them, because I’m not willing to sacrifice my message for the sake of being productive… which can make me feel like a failure… it’s so stupid when you think about it.

rafi happy sketches

Ok, back to my revelation.

So, this morning I was thinking about how I felt, and wondered why I felt that way… when it hit me like a ton of bricks… on the forehead… while falling off a mountain.

I wasn’t choosing my thoughts, I was reacting to my feelings right from the beginning. Instead of determining what I wanted to think about, I was evaluating myself emotionally without setting a solid set point for my day. which meant that my day could go either way.

Being deliberate about what you are going to think about is key. Choosing a subject that you want to think about and just thinking about that, and training your mind to focus on what you decide to focus on.

The subject should be empowering, make you feel alive, bold, bright, powerful, exciting. It can be a question that is framed in a way that causes the answer to be a positive one, such as “What are all the things that make me feel awesome today?”

rafi happy sketches

So my days would start off like this:

  1. Drag myself out of bed… Still working on this one.
  2. Think about what I want to think about and determine the most powerful thought.
  3. Listen to an uplifting podcast or audio-book, maybe about the same subject.
  4. Drink coffee and read positive quotes.
  5. Clear my mind for 5 or 10 minutes or meditate.
  6. Think about the here and now, and what I’m grateful for.
  7. Plan my day, look at my calendar.
  8. Get a little workout in..
  9. Shower, and get started with what ever I’m doing at the moment.

I’m not one for routines, but I am one for forming deliberate habits, so this should be fun. I’ll let you know how it goes, but so far, so great!

 

Live On Purpose

So, I’m sure you heard the phrase “Live with purpose.”

If you haven’t heard that phrase, then you probably live under a rock somewhere…

Rafi Perez Art 2016

It’s one of those phrases that is so overused that I feel like it’s lost its power a little with most people. But I also think it could be a little confusing when you’re in a place where you are not really sure what your purpose is, or why a sense of purpose is so important. You know, because life could be confusing.

There’s a lot of information circulating around out there about what is good for you, bad for you, what this means, and what that means.

Rafi Art Delivery

There you are at the grocery store deciding whether or not you are going to get the gluten free tortillas, or just get the cheaper ones that have gluten. You’re not really sure why this is a thing but you know everyone is advertising gluten free, so you assume gluten must be bad.

Everyone has their own opinion about it… My opinion? Slather it up with gluten, what ever it might be. I don’t know why.

That being said, I understand there are some people out there that have a genuine intolerance to gluten, but not as many people as have jumped on the gluten free bandwagon thanks to advertising and influence.

The same thing happens with the term “Live with purpose”

Depending on who you are listening to, it may have different meanings. Trying to apply all those different meanings to your own life is impossible.

Some people say, to base it on your beliefs and values.

I hate to break it to you, but beliefs and values change throughout your life. You may be holding on to a belief or value that isn’t really working, it might be a belief or value you picked up from a racist uncle or parent, that you’ve never questioned.

Rafi and klee

This makes things super confusing because most of us haven’t really thought to much about our own thoughts and whether or not we agree with them.

Other people say “Follow your passion and it will show you, your purpose”
That’s great, but again that whole thing is confusing too. What is my passion, and if I can’t figure out my passion, how am I supposed to figure out my purpose?

So, to make this whole thing a little less confusing for myself I’ve changed one of the words in the phrase “Live With Purpose.”

I changed it to live on purpose.

So what do I mean by that… How do you live on purpose?

So, picture this, the moment you wake up, you repeat the words… “Today, I’m living on purpose.”

That means I will stop, observe, and appreciate my world and the things that are in it. It means that I will change things about myself that I do not like, it means I’m going to be deliberate about how I spend my days and the things I think about. It also means that I will think about my thoughts and whether or not they are actually mine.

This isn’t a cake walk, trust me when I say it is quite easy to just go back to not questioning your own thoughts, and saying things like “Tony Danza’s face makes me so angry, I don’t know why, that’s just who I am!”

I’ve determined that I’m alive, and my purpose in life is to live my life as fully as I can. That means not buying into the excuses that make me feel angry or small.

Sure, it’ll take some work, and I may be doing it until the day I die, but I can’t picture a better way to live… Every day, every minute, every second… On purpose.

-Love Rafi