Thursday, June 28, 2007

Leunig magic

How I love Michael Leunig's cartoons, poetry and general commentary on life. With a few simple strokes of the pen (or paintbrush), he manages to convey so much about the human condition. This image is one of my favourites. With its poignant and universal theme, I'm sure it's been the driving force behind many a profound lifestyle - or career - changes. The signs read: "THE LIFE YOU LEAD", and "THE LIFE YOU COULD HAVE LED"

Are we living the life we really want? Or did we instead choose one that disappoints us? If we are indeed walking along that darkened stretch of road, how do we turn around and get on the path of light? Every time I see this cartoon, it drives home all the things that are important to me. The message is loud and clear: 'Carpe Diem' - Seize the day!

In yesterday's edition of The Age, another vintage Leunig made me think - and laugh - about my choices in life. The cartoon in question was about writing, and had no particular title. In it, a man is talking to his therapist and the conversation goes like this:

MAN: Help me doctor. I've got a book inside me!

THERAPIST: Most people have a book in them. Perhaps I can refer you to a publisher.

MAN: No! I don't want it published. I want it surgically removed - or dissolved with herbs or something - maybe some sort of therapy. I WANT TO BE RID OF IT! PLEASE!

THERAPIST: You seem ashamed of your inner book?

MAN: Not at all. It's just that I don't want to become a... a... I don't want to become a WRITER!

THERAPIST: There, there - it's not so bad. We all have to become writers sooner or later. We must learn acceptance. We are born, we live and then, sadly, we must write.

MAN: It seems so unfair. Life is so cruel. I thought I could escape.

Dear, dear Leunig. What would we all do without you? Sometimes the writing process feels just like it's described in this cartoon. Writing is agonising and confronting at times, but could I stop if I tried? I'm definitely in too deep, now. There are moments of exhilaration, and yes, there is the book - or many books - inside that are screaming to be written.

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