The New Generation of Classic Short Stories

Vol. 12, No. 2

Notes on Design

by Mark Mothersbaugh

Hooray for Happiness! Hooray for Life! Hooray for Everything! Why do we do the things we do? Do you ever wonder what the biggest mistake you’ve ever made was? Do you ever wonder what the most valuable thing you’ve ever done was? Do you ever feel like a puppet some unknown smart-ass is working the strings on? Or, do you ever feel truly free? What is it with Homo sapiens? Are we just some evil trick on every other living being on this planet? Are you ever filled with regret? I constantly find myself wishing I could go back in time and take another path: I would have been a pretty good Neanderthal. I react to the complications of being a modern human by drawing pictures every day of my life—with rendering skills comparable to a caveman’s, too. These drawings sometimes make me feel like they add up to something, but I still imagine them all winding up in the city dump one day not long after my demise. I can’t stop drawing, though. It’s always a few times a day. Oh, I can go cold turkey for a few days at a time, and a few times a year that happens. Other things in life distract me, or an area in the brain feels overheated and in need of a rest, and I can lay off the ink pen for twenty-four or forty-eight hours; and then the compulsion is back. The urge to record something—like a dedicated journalist or maybe an autistic crossword-puzzle enthusiast—restores me to old habits. I’m both a cynic and an idealist. What bothers me is when I’m wrong. More than once I’ve felt like a small bug with the brain of a man, standing on a leaf floating through the blood vessels and veins in my own body. As I navigate through a leg or into a body cavity, I can clearly see the faults and the strengths of my concurrent convictions—little vignettes in continuous action, like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, a haunted house carved into my organs and muscles. Anyhow, every day of my life, when I draw another picture, I think maybe I’m trying to find something inside me that needs a new script. Like crashing your motorcycle and waking up and wondering why your foot is over there in the gutter. As I get older, I regret the mistakes of my life ever deeper. And I feel the following things ever more: Hooray for Happiness! Hooray for Life! Hooray for Everything!

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