Living Life

After flipping through the amazing website Zen Pencils for over two hours, I finally decided on a comic that stood out to me the most. I must have read over a hundred comics, but this one titled “The Dalai Lama answers a question” kept popping back into my head. The longer I thought about this comic, the more I realized its surprising accuracy. This comic depicts a middle-aged man who works and works so hard that “he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present” and fails to really live life. The depiction of a man who becomes so caught up with the daily cycle and allows his job and the desire for material things to consume his life was actually quite a frightening image for me. The scary realization of the current similarities and potentially similar ending of my life to the man’s life in the comic may be why this one stood out to me so prominently.

The comic’s brief yet powerful sentences add to the dismaying tone; however, the drawings help to fully convey the frightening message. The images of the man’s son connected with me personally. I, like the middle-aged man, get caught up with never-ending load of work that it sometimes seems as if my school work begins to consume me. On the other hand, my little brother, Ethan, still enjoys the no-homework freedom of middle school. He always has free time to read, watch tv, play video games, or really do whatever he pleases to. He used to always beg me to play cards or board games with him, but I would be too busy with homework every time. Playing cards is one of his favorite activities, and I’ve shunned enjoying his favorite past-time with him because I have become so focused on work. The picture of the broadly smiling boy juxtaposed with his disheartened attitude in the following box makes me sad as it reminds me of Ethan and the similarity of my actions to the dad’s dismissive ones.

As aforementioned, the text in the comic is minimal but insightful. The brevity of the sentences and the way they interconnect and juxtapose each other creates a more impactful message. Perhaps the most effective phrase are the last two lines–“he lives as if he is never going to die […] and then he dies having never really lived”–as they concisely sum up the whole comic as well as the fear that I now have of never really living. The irony of this comic is that the man values what isn’t that important (in the grand scheme of everything work is not the most important) and then cheapens the most valuable things in his life (family, love, appreciation of the world, etc). The final image of the man depicts defined under-eye bags and a dejected posture. His facial expression and posture depict the man’s final realization and the under-eye bags depict hollowness; both represent the man’s emptiness from not truly living a life worth living which, after reading this comic, is not something I would like to replicate. More than a comic, this piece of work is eye-opening as well as inspiring; it calls for a reevaluation of what is really valuable in life and what deserves more attention.


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