The discovery and actualization of one’s identity and purpose. This, by my estimation, is the most personally profound and richly rewarding riddle an individual may ever come to solve. To truly know what you are made of, what gifts you have to give, and who it is you desire to give them to. There is no knowledge more valuable, or hard-earned. To glimpse it is to peek into the jewels of Mystery’s treasure chest, and the reflection is priceless.

My identity, my purpose, from where I sit typing thisthirty-six years deep into a story uniquely my ownexists in three parts: Son, Husband, and Artist. My dedication to these roles and the day by day pursuit of a positive evolution into each, it’s all that I am, all I care to be. And within these roles, my gifts, as well as my limits, are revealed to me. Often to sobering degree.

Navigating responsibility is a tricky dance. Attempting to live as a human being perpetually of benefit to the object of your devotion, especially when that object is another equally singular human being, makes for an infinitely complex collaboration. Performing as an unimpressive son or husband is a frustratingly reoccurring fate I’ve yet to learn my way out of. I’m not that smart. Never will be. The occasional failure is simply unavoidable.

Though, within the final corner of my identity, as an Artist, integrity is a one-man show. Here, the decisions are not negotiations and no compromise is required. My relationship with my art is a relationship with myself. My responsibility to my art is a responsibility to me. I get what I give, and the synergy is entirely self-contained. My art is my divine mirror. It is a reflection through which the Mystery within me becomes clear.

There is nothing I am better at and nothing I enjoy more. My art is the most valuable gift I have to offer, and it is sacred to me. For this reason, and many more, I will never allow another individual to possess the rights to what I create. They can’t be bought and will not be sold.

My characters and the stories they live inside of are proxy to my soul. They are me. They are my loss, my concepts of beauty, my joy, my hurt, my hope and my confusion. They are the externalization of everything life has done to me, everything I’ve received. My loves and my fears are all there.

The thought of a stranger, unfamiliar and uninvited, profiting by my gift while molesting a beauty which they did not suffer to create, is a thought unacceptable to me. This kind of righteous stubbornness comes at a cost, of course, as many can attest to. But the tax imposed on my integrity by traveling any other avenue would be much steeper. And I refuse to pay it.

My work is not a trinket, not disposable, not a marketable trend. I endeavor, at the exchange rate of debt and obsession, to create treasures, in the truest sense of the word. I craft my writing and its packaging as books to become priceless possessions to those with a mind to understand them. My covers will not be vandalized by quips and quotes attempting to sell the words within. My work will not wear the cheap skin of an advertisement for itself. My words will never be abridged by fear of insulting, never simplified for readers unequipped to comprehend them. My stories are, and will remain, elegant journeys into the Mystery. Within my books, brightly hidden inside the art I create, lie my identity and my purpose. They are my gift to give, and I will never compromise their integrity.