Every year a "theme" presents itself that puts a stamp on it.
In 2011, it was Money- I had spent nearly the entire year chasing a client to pay me for some christmas illustrations I had done for them. Egos clashed and ethics were questioned. I was finally paid (in installments, no less), but the amount of effort it took to get what was owed to me was ridiculous.
2012 was about Career. I love my day job; we have a fantastic team and a solid strategy, but that wasn't the case three years ago. I was dealing with a few characters that made my year there less than ideal, and I dreaded going to work. I was also in a state of trying to decide what to do with my life- I needed direction.
2013 was about Family. It really tore me apart when I lost my dad in January of that year. Although I was his only son, we were polar opposites. He wanted the best for me, but he also tried to relive his youth through me by attempting to get me into boxing and martial arts. His love of movies rubbed off on me. He was often proud of my artwork, but we never really had much in terms of conversation. He had his faults, we never really "clicked" as father and son, but I respect the man and often wonder how he would handle tough situations I find myself in.
2014 was about Health. After I was hospitalized, I meditated on how my health was headed down a dark path. I needed to take care of myself. Two failed attempts at working with some great (but poorly fitted) personal trainers, and then letting it go, I realized again with many older family members health failing that I needed to be proactive. I now have an amazing fitness trainer, and I'm on my way to the lifestyle I had in my 20s.
2015 has been about Illusions. I've had many. One, in particular, was shattered after 10 years of friendship. It's a long story, and a little too personal to share here, but its been a long hard road and now I know that sometimes people's sincerity isn't as real as you had hoped. I guess, what I'm saying, is NEVER take anyone at face value—It's been a problem I've ran into time and time again throughout my life. People will use you, be it innocently or malevolently, people are not interested in you unless you have something to offer them in return. It's fair, I guess... but sometimes you don't get anything in return other than confusion and pain. So, this large illusion has been shattered. I'm better for learning it and surviving, but it's been very hard to come to terms with.
The other illusion is about belief. Faith, upbringing, and "truths" you are educated with are all subjective by those who have control over you. You become hardwired, and frankly that's what's causing so much ruckus across the world. I'm not getting into any sort of religious thing here, but I've decided to take a more critical thinking sort of approach to life- sort of anti-empirical; there is no "truth", just points of view. And, is there really a truth anyway? Can things really exist without being observed? They just are, but have no consciousness or form? Take a drawing- it is just graphite or ink splayed on a paper... but it's our perception that makes it representative of something- and there needs to be an experience to make it "real" in someone's head. That last part is magic... but sometimes magic can be bad.
SO, because of some major personal rewiring, I've been away as I've sorted things out. I've experimented with game design (which had gotten me into graphic design in the first place) and studied sailing (which making it a lifestyle is some ways off). As always, I come back full-circle to what I am: an artist. I am drawing again... the one thing that gives me peace.
In the end, whether you learn to survive it or not, life goes on, and all you can do is pick yourself up and start over. The trick is to learn from those mistakes and challenges, and try to do better next time.