What A Long Strange Road Its Been…. Anniversaries 18 & 21 by Rick London

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I am a sucker for milestones and anniversaries.  Especially long period of time ones sometimes bring a tear to my eye.  But a happy kind of tear.

March through June are both fun and emotional for me for that very reason.  First and foremost this June 18th is Lee’s and my 8th wedding anniversary.  (She’ll be proud of me for remembering that LOL).

We married in a old stone chapel in the Ar. Mountains to which one had to hike, there was no road to it.  She found it on a solo hike 9 years ago and came home yelling, “I found our chapel. I found our wedding chapel).  Until she took me there (by foot), I hadn’t a clue what I was about to find.

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      Our Wedding Chapel 

It was a charming 100 year old stone building in the middle of nowhere.  Nature surrounded us.  It was/is us.  We hike back to it each year.

 

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Favorite Pic Of My Beloved Wife Lee Hiller-London

When we chose that day (it was our second pick), the 19th being our first, we had no idea

it wautism 222222222as Autism Pride Day or even that I was/am Autistic.  Lee sort of had a clue given she’d worked in high-tech many years around the world in the early days of technology.  She’s still a wiz at it, even given all the changes. Back then HTML was considered high-tech.  I still love her more than ever.

By the way I was not diagnosed for autism until 2015 at age 60.  It was hidden from me as a child (was not diagnosed) and I was given an “attic bedroom” far away from the family core; quite a frightening way to live, with autism,  at age six-age through age 17 (basically imprisoned with controlled friends).  I am vocal about it because, a lot of parents, later entire families, and finally entire communities disown their autistics (or different) children. My greatest hopes are to help lessen this obscenity. I know I cannot alleviate it.  But it is a form of torture and I plan to speak out.  Whenever the opportunity avails itself.

Future children/later adults need not suffer like that, now that we know what it is, and was. It is well past time to get past the years of character assassination of “those who are different”, and often those of us who are autistic, fall into that league.  Autism is who we are. It’s not a disease or ailment. It’s like being green-eyed or left-handed.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with it any more than there is neurotypical people.

Monday, March 19th is also the 21st anniversary of the day I launched Londons Times Cartoons (LTCartoons.com) in 1997.  Most folks by now know the story of my living in a tin shed with no heat or air and only cold running water (for over a year).  Electricity was installed and I bought a big old used IBM Clone 396 computer for several hundred dollars and a book “Internet For Dummies”.  And my trusty rescue dog “Thor”.  I had $300 more or less.

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Thank you to all the wonderful souls who have been with me through this journey.  There were times when I was certain it would not work, I’d stop knowledge of what I’ve learned, or people would simply forget about me.  None of that has happened, and the works I have done have grown dramatically.

     Thor The Wonderdog

I’ve published 4 cartoon compilation kindle books and one coffee table one available at bookstores worldwide.  I have about 4500 full-color cartoons on my website.  I woke up one day in early January 2005 and my site was #65 ranked on Alexa.com. While that didn’t last long, it stayed the #1 ranked offbeat cartoon (on both Google and Bing); it sometimes fluctuates to #2 but that’s okay given there’s about 10,000 offbeat cartoon properties competing for that spot on any given day.  However 8 million people had visited my main website and now it’s closer to 8 million and 188K.  It surprised me (possibly more than it does anyone else).  It all definitely went beyond my bucket list.

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oldmanHemingway once quoted, “A man’s got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.”  I might add, “…And write several more really funny books to be humbled by the blessings I have received”.

And if all that were not enough, we’ve got Amazon Prime and Netflix and the occasional GMO-Free Popcorn.  Life is good.

 

 

To see my main site ranked Google & Bing #1 Offbeat Cartoons click here.   Most suggest to then click on “New Toons”.  You can find our most popular recent strange cartoons on Instagram here.  To shop there’s several stores. Let me suggest this one which is Rick London Gifts full of comic tees, mugs, cards, bags, jewelry, home and office and plenty of other stuff.

 

Live A Little & Be Happy (Socrates Recommended It) By Rick London

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I’ve often heard from well-meaning friends, relatives etc., especially since diving into the world of cartooning, “Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should”.

To them I quote Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living”. (Note: Often Plato gets credit for that quote but I understand it was actually Socrates). Sometimes it’s just okay to try something new, or different, that is unconventional and really not even think twice about what others think….in fact necessary as far as I can see.  To spend one’s life only to please others, or to be “who they want us to be” is the trademark of the unexamined life.  I’m not saying it’s not a good thing to “do unto others”. It very much is, and service is a trademark of character.  And we grow from it.  But we also grow by taking the risk of “being ourselves”.  

And to a certain degree I mean it (to examine ones own life rather than fear it is a key to real success and happiness. I’m not necessarily talking about fiscally, though that can often happen.  The key here is learning to be happy by simply being comfortable with oneself, okay in ones skin). I believed that when I began my “journey of examination” and I believe it still.   I’ve never met a happy person who does a job for instance he/she was forced to do, or inherited but didn’t like it that much and no amount of money changes that.  Once one truly examines ones life, they surely aren’t perfect (I’ve proven that), but they are happy and find things to do, and friends, spouses, etc. that perpetuate that happiness.  

We were taught by our parents and formal education (if we were so fortunate) not to participate in violence, bullying, stealing, to treat others as we’d like to be treated, etc.  And those principles should remain with us for a lifetime.  Those are some of our most important lessons.

But education and loving parents can also have their downside. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against either.   Both teach us, whether it is a written lesson, or a “silent rule” to don’t do it just because you can or is legal etc.

I imagine Evel Knievel  was told many times as a kid not to jump his mini-bike across the creek or he’d “put his eye out” or whatever smite might visit him before reaching the other side.

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I can imagine Thomas Edison’s parents begging him to hang out with the kids and play ball rather than act like a hermit in the garage with all these wires and such.

I heard one talking head on one of the news networks, who made perfect sense, saying that if Tesla, Einstein, Edison, Galileo, et al were all alive today they’d have been given Ritalin in school but would have great marketing jobs after high school or college.

We often hear teachers complain about how out of control their classes are; and in many cases I’m sure they are correct.

But sometimes, it’s the teacher who is out of control, or, really doesn’t understand his/her job.

The Greeks, who (scholars believe) ushered in the newer age of education of which we are familiar today called it “educare” or “to pull out”.  The theory is that the young student already has the knowledge, a good teacher knows how to reduce his/her ego and draw out the knowledge from the already-knowing children.  Education derived from the word educare.

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If you’re like me, you can count on one hand the teachers who taught the educare method.  Most felt they had to stuff the knowledge into us because, after all, we were dumb kids.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for more education (and better education), and feel teachers have about the most (if not the most) important job in the world.  Perhaps if we paid them what they’re worth, they’d all take the time to perform as well as a world-leading surgeon.  Until then, I think we can, for the most part, expect the status quo, blaming the kids and punishing them with Ritalin.

For 30 years or so I’ve been living my life, but in the process examining it too.  Sometimes it is exhilarating, sometimes painful, but always necessary. 

I returned to a good college at age 49 to pursue a degree in Business Internet Technology.  The majority of professors there were quite keen regarding educare (and many of us were “big boys and girls” by that time.  We were still treated with respect as equals.  Ego was cast aside for the sake of learning.

What is the point of my blog.  It is never too late to shift gears, to stop the drama.  We were not created to be unhappy, hateful, violent, ignorant, or any other negatives.  Even actions that extreme can be modified with proper education/educare.

I am sixty now and feel like I’m just beginning to learn about the world.  I’ve changed my lifestyle considerably as has my wife Lee.  Our daily routines are healthy and there’s always something new to learn in what we do.  If we don’t like a certain path part of our work is leading us down, we turn the steering wheel.
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We’re nothing special; well no more special than any other human being (we’re all very special in that way).  If we can do it, so can anyone else.   Please do yourself a favor.  Live a little before you die.  It’s okay.  Really. 

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Rick London is a writer, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for the founding of Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts.  He and his nature photographer wife Lee Hiller-London are living green, vegan, hiking etc in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.