Descartes had the idea that to think defines one’s being. Rousseau in turn, thought that feeling was the defining factor of being. I agree with them both, at least as far as defining my own being is concerned. The self-portrait of me forms in my mind not as a domestic journal of deeds, a study of physique or a pamphlet of notable characteristics, but as a rough outline of a man, stuffed full of roiling, pulsing, crashing sparks of complex thoughts and feelings. Leonardo made a great study of a man, very famous now, in realistic lines and waves, tenderly drawn in intellectual brown. Michael Angelo did likewise in his Statue of David and the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Their revolutionary figures of men were incredible real, audible to the touch of the hand or caress of the eye: Bunched muscles that could stretch at any moment in a flurry of athletic prowess, chiselled faces whose chins and brows burn into one’s mind an unforgettable regard. When trying to conjure a portrait in my mind of my own figure, the best I can come up with is a fairly disappointing and hazy image that mostly consists of what modern society tells me I should not be. Comments by others hardly reconcile with it. They simply slip off as they linger for a second, trying to fit some order, like a robe, over that misty ogre. In fact, even when confronted by a mirror I am often startled and shocked. Who is this green-eyed stranger with the thoughtful brow and passionate mouth? He seems sad and strangely amused, seeking, wanting, determined in an artificial manner. Almost like a hero of old, but blighted by the unexpected ambush of realistic expectation. An image jumps to my mind of Hercules setting off to battle the dread hydra. Except that this time he had been told by a gathering of all the world’s psychologists, doctors, analysts and speculators that he has absolutely no chance whatsoever of success, followed by a gathering of citizens, nobles and damsels who then tell him that it matters not a fig to them whether he succeeds either. What was he to do? Agree with them? Beg on the streets? Save the hydra all the trouble and just end his life himself? Haunted now, crushed, the hero sets off none the less because not doing so seems somehow more pathetic. Nietzsche said that if one should stare into the abyss long enough, it is likely to stare back. I find this thought uncomfortable descriptive of a vast number of furious red sparks that swirl within my rough outline at times. There is undoubtedly a lot of darkness in the world today, and staring at it colours the soul behind the eyes. I never watch news anymore, nor the popular human commentaries of Oprah and her ilk, nor the ghastly reflection of domestic behaviour that is soap operas. It awakes within me a raging anger, a burning frustration, a revolutionary demon that wants to just scour the Earth clean of all the filth and tangles. Better we reside contentedly in pre-historic caves than sit here and complain at the pinnacle of civilization! Is money truly the only thing left striving for? Does nothing else matter anymore? Is any cost at all acceptable now? Fake Messiahs abound, seeking nothing more than the redistribution of money. All these things gaze back at me through the television and newspaper and colour me black. It is a colour that my native goodness fights to mutual annihilation, leaving not a better world, alas, only a profound lack of motivation to participate in life. Finally, I come to the green. It is a fantastical, confounding turnabout, like a cement truck trying to execute a u-turn on a busy suburban main street, leaving one momentarily, almost too stunned to respond angrily. Whilst the red sparks rage hence and forth on the blasted black landscape, elusive green sparks lurk in their hidden lairs. They emerge, suddenly, without warning, to caper and dance madly amongst the storms, like a band of lunatic leprechauns. Alternatively, and somewhat oddly, they have also been known to creep up unawares and lay a brief, comforting glow on a weary shoulder in the manner of some benevolent fey. What I am referring to here is the manifestations of a gentle, good soul. Not being an arrogant or much self-acknowledging man, it feels rather sinful to acknowledge such a thing in myself, but it deserves a mention anyway. If a good piece of music reaches me from any source, there is a good likelihood I will burst into a short and unabashed dance, an exaggerated hip-swaying, a flurry of taps and drumming, even the occasional jump. Likewise, the bathroom will often erupt in a symphony of horribly untalented shower-singing, -humming, or -operatic. ‘Ware the watching or reading of a brilliant or touching film or book, for it may spawn a most unseemly , unmanly bout of tears and wailing. A willing ear, extravagant present, mutual sentiment, or unselfish sharing of joy are also such sparks of green, though more uncommon. I suspect these green fireflies make their lairs in the green of my eyes. One rather unfortunate proof for this is my uncanny effect on beggars. Whilst the stubbornly averted eyes, downturned mouth, and hastily rolled up windows of others send beggars back to their traffic light stations, with nary a huff, it doesn’t work for me at all. I find myself mobbed at every crossing and parking lot! So, there we have my self-portrait: A fuzzy, dark, vaguely sad outline of a man, filled with raging storms of red sparks and randomly darting green sparks. Rather more Picasso than Rembrandt. Never-the-less, may it confound many a psycho-analyst!