A strong sense

Mental Health
The philosopher was really in tricky situation. The most recent apprentice philosopher had shown some promising qualities, however rough and undeveloped, when competing for the position, but was now proving to be more or less a disastrous mess of a human being. To make matters worse, the philosopher's time-tested curriculum was coming up on the unit entitled "Know Thyself", but it was looking more and more ethically justifiable not to subject the apprentice to the pain self-knowledge would inevitably bring.


That's dedication

Mental Health
Adrian stood before the bathroom mirror at work. People described him as nervous, high strung, tightly wound, anxious. He was aware of this and agreed with the assessment. Nothing brought him so much tension as thoughts about his carefully cultivated sense of self and the inevitable falling short of those high expectations. 
In this moment, Adrian was forced to confront his stated dedication to evil and the lackluster way in which he had worked wickedness in the world. Not living up to his commitments was, Adrian thought, well...bad. His eye twitched in sync with a sudden insight: he was being evil by not living up to his full evil potential. Far from being comforted or satisfied, Adrian felt that this was cheating in some form. Probably an effort of his lazy mind to justify his inherent halfheartedness.


Aspire higher

With halfhearted apologies to Ray Bradbury.
Mental Health
"Well, I want to be a plane-man when I grow up!" 
___"I think you mean a 'pilot'." 
"No! I want to be a man who is also an airplane. That's way better than a pilot."


Learn to be loved

Mental Health
Let's see...uh, the attendance policy. I won't give any hard-and-fast rules, here, but obviously if you're always here and always on time, with your little row of perfectly pre-sharpened pencils, etc., that's not super charismatic. But you gotta put in enough face time for us to form a positive opinion of you, too. Learning to strike this balance is what we're all about in Popularity 101, and going on to the intermediate and advanced popularity courses, too.


Cretaceous cowboy

Mental Health
The next morning, the rider rose early, made a roaring bonfire to warm up the mount's cold blood, and boiled water for his own dwindling supply of coffee. The beans from which coffee was made might not have evolved yet, and even if they had, the rider reckoned he was not likely to come across them on this journey.
When the dinosaur was awake and energized, the few articles of camp were packed and saddled onto its sides, and the cowboy was up on its back, they continued onward, looking for the place where the impact was supposed to occur. Both hoped they would make it in time to change the path of history. 


Stay afloat

Mental Health
"It's just the ocean playing tricks on us. Just because it looks like we're on land, and it doesn't seem like we're moving, doesn't mean we should risk getting out."
___"Our ancestors wouldn't have sacrificed so much to stay in the boat if it wasn't really on the water. And I wouldn't feel such a dark, frightened feeling every time my doubts say we've been fooled."
"Absolutely. There's no other explanation for it."


The mad hatted

Mental Health
I have an identical twin, and here are the only ways you can tell us apart: He always wears a hat, and I never do. He's a rude jerk, and I'm not. But we always wear the same clothes; it's a long story, but basically we won a contest for identical twins but missed the fine print where we have to dress exactly alike. It's worth it. Uh, and so anyway, my twin might also know stuff about my life and pretend to be me, but it's only because he reads my journal all the time. In conclusion, we are totally two different people and that's why you shouldn't be mad at me, because I'm not the one who apparently ruined that funeral reception by accidentally eating all the cake and then trying to replace it with tofu covered in leftover frosting, or whatever.


Worth a try, anyway

Mental Health
Desperately in need of air, but knowing their life depended upon not making a sound, they hid behind the bushes after their run across the darkened field. They forced their lungs to rise and fall at an unbearably slow pace, seeing static and feeling on the verge of passing out, knowing that that would truly mean the end. A distant streetlight faintly reached in their direction, just enough to cast a very long, low-contrast shadow. But they knew what it was: a man, pacing about the field, holding an axe. 
"Come on out, friends!" their pursuer said. "I think this has all been a misunderstanding. I'm just...an axe salesman! I'm sorry if I came on too strong, but I sure am passionate about my product."


Bright futures

Mental Health
"I see great discoveries in your future. They'll even name the disease in your honor, posthumously."


Good ideas, better ideas

Mental Health
"I used to be like you, reader--I didn't have any good ideas in my head. That's part of why it took me decades to write this book."


The cost of niceness

Mental Health
Hank was known far and wide for his unprecedented levels of kindness, compassion, and all-around pleasant-to-be-around-ness. Though his range as a self-employed handyman was limited to a few small rural towns, word of mouth actually brought people from cities a few hours away to meet him, some with the pretense of some machine needing repair or some consultation on home maintenance that they could have easily had wherever they were from. Hank knew this, and, in his niceness, said nothing. As a handyman, he came to regard this talking with people who clearly really needed to talk as just another kind of job he could do.
What no one knew about Hank, of course, was that although in his day-to-day life he really was as wonderful as everyone said, it was bought with a price. On Hank's rural land, past the house and the tool shed on an overgrown dirt path that wound behind several copses of gnarled trees (looking, generally, like an uninteresting and vaguely sad place) there was a dingy-glassed greenhouse. Here it was that he kept the plants, the 'vessels of wrath', as he called them in his mind. He would go here, late at night or early in the morning, or whenever he niceness threatened to crack, and would whisper soft cruelties to the withered plants, keep them barely alive and yet refuse to let them die until they had been utterly used up in Hank's own twisted secret garden.


I'll recognize it

Mental Health
"To open one's eyes, to hear, to taste, to smell...this is the act of discovering new things to dislike. Or new reasons to dislike things already known, and experienced anew."



The clouds parted

Mental Health
A Selection from The Hymns of the Church of rigonometry:
   Lord, let our function ever be / Situated at a pleasing angle unto thee 
   Bless us and keep us in / Thy holy periodicity



Mental Health
Some spiders choose to work outside the home, while others find fulfillment in full-time domestic life. This is something that every spider has a right to determine for themselves. Society needs to recognize the contributions of all spiders.


Finally a clothing solution that works for me

I feel like this comic is more like...several rough draft ideas all mushed together, never quite coalescing into a coherent cartoon. I feel like I don't care about that maybe as much as I should.

 Mental Health
When business casual eventually accepted loincloths, there was a great deal of, shall we say, adjustment needed in boardrooms and at cubicles around the world.


Humor theory in practice

Mental Health
The Dean of the College of Humor paced around the office, sidestepping a banana peel and nodding to Dr. Cynthia Crumbins, who was dressed in a fully-feathered chicken suit except for the head (which sat atop her desk), as he passed her open office door. He looked with disapproval at the newest adjunct's doorway, where the actual door had been removed (probably without approval from Facilities Management, he thought with no small amount of dread) and, on the floor of the doorway, a glass mason jar sat in its place. If that was a joke, the Dean didn't get it, which upset him even more than the prospect of the paperwork to be involved in the door's disappearance.


Putting up barriers

Mental Health
Say what you will about walls; they are excellent listeners. A wall is never too busy for you. A wall never has something better to do. Plus, if a wall has professional credentials, it can hang them in a frame on itself


The insistence of memory

Mental Health
After the first success, he began to connect himself by string to some physical manifestation of every task needing to be done, every object requiring attention, and every person he was supposed to interact with. Well, he tried to do the latter, and met with some resistance from the people involved. Nonetheless, the strings he was allowed to connect proliferated quickly. He had to attach a thick rope around his waist which then connected to a written key for the meanings of different colors of string. Working his way out of the inevitable tangles began to occupy more and more of his time.


Layers of love

Mental Health
"I used to have a real anger problem. Short temper, always erupting, then slowly cooling down and hardening up again. Problem is, instead of addressing that and fixing it, I just learned to start burying it down deep. I've been under so much pressure, for so long, that I can tell people think I've metamorphosed from the way I look on the outside, even though inside my head the igneous rage never really went away."


What I like about you

Mental Health
"Looks like we have some new faces among us today! Want to introduce yourselves?"
___"Hey, I'm Mitch. I've been coming most weeks, but you're right, this is a new face. Don't worry, it was...ethically harvested."


Life's work

Mental Health
They say "If you love something, give it away," but when the International Supreme Court of Human Survivors determined beyond all reasonable doubt that I was the original vector of the ultravirulent plague, no one seemed to care just how much affection I had felt for the little critters who did, admittedly, wipe out 90% of the human population.


Some kind of mighty, anyway

Mental Health
After weeks of lonely travels through an unkind land, I reached the dragon's lair. The plants there had long since died, the dirt turned to dust, and the dust blown away. The earth appeared scorched and skeletal. The dragon met me at the mouth of the cave. 
"Are you the mighty warrior?" it asked me, its face contorted in what must have been a sneer. 
"More or less," I answered, trying to maintain the appearance of a calmness I had never once felt in all my life. "Does it matter?" 
"It does," the dragon replied. "For you see, I have faced many mighty warriors in the past, and none has long stood against me." 
I had given this a great deal of thought, myself, and hoped that my obsessive hypotheticals were right. "Is that so?" I asked. 
"Indeed it is," the dragon replied. "I cannot be defeated by might or magic. I am a detail dragon." 
"A detail dragon?" I said, trying to sound surprised. 
"I feast upon all the particularities, the insignificant facts and concerns that every mighty warrior ignores when setting out to slay me," the dragon gloated. "For example, did you lock your door before you left on your quest?" 
Knowing, then, that I was prepared in all the right ways, I spoke in a toneless triumph, weighting every word: "I checked it three times. And I left a key, and a list of instructions and information on my whereabouts, with a trusted neighbor."
"It's not possible!" the dragon wailed, already visibly weakening, shrinking back. "It cannot be!" 
But I pressed forward for every step it took backwards, singing at last the great and dreadful song of every worry, great or small, that I had ever made my own. 


Differing points of view

Mental Health
It was technically true that the senator's plan was forward-thinking. What she did not say in the speech was that it was mostly thinking forward to an early lunch.


No more strangers

Mental Health
For weeks, the witch had watched the children who lived at the edge of the forest. Their parents, she saw with distaste, were indifferent and neglectful. The little girl and the even littler boy spent their days barefoot and playing their sadness-tinged childhood games, resilient but so obviously in need of more attention, care, and instruction than they could ever hope to find at home. 
The witch's heart broke for them and she longed to snatch them away and raise them for her own...until she remembered the undeniable compulsion she felt to fatten, cook, and eat such children. That would have to be overcome, she decided, before she could offer a better environment for the brother and sister who lived and played at the edge of her forest. 


A supportive friend

Mental Health
"No, listen...you were there for me in my time of need, and I will never forget that. I know I could run out that door right now and be fine, but these are our horrific hellbeasts from the ninth demon dimension. I'm with you all the way, pal."


The powers of suggestion

Mental Health
 "Of course I value your input. You're an important part of our team. So here's what I want you to do: take some time and really think about all the suggestions you have. I mean, get it all organized in your head, everything you want to say. Then write it out
"Write it out, make sure you have it just right. Got it? And then throw it in the ocean, because I don't care." 
___"This is the worst slave ship I've ever rowed on. I just want you to know that."


Feel what it feels like

Mental Health
"Patient presents with persistent delusions of being a sandwich. Effects on the patient's daily life include: Social disruptions. Hoarding of condiments and rubbing said condiments on skin. Fixations on being liked by others, but specifically as a sandwich. Patient demands to be tasted."


Comparing yourself

Mental Health
The evil Dr. Vandertramp had worked hard to develop his accurate and minutely scrutinized understanding of himself. He knew his own flaws and weaknesses as intimately as he knew his strengths and achievements. He remained outside the dichotomy of humility or pride in the way of a shark, its form and function fine-tuned by millions of years of existence. Dr. Vandertramp was equally pragmatic and perhaps even more predatory.


Stock up on ectoplasm

Mental Health
Having had high hopes of becoming some sort of supernatural being after death, former 87-year-old human Chuck Glazier awoke after the night of his peaceful death and found with great disappointment that he was now a subnatural being. Specifically, his consciousness inhabited a somewhat abstract subatomic component of one atom in a speck of dust in the retirement home where he had passed on. Chuck felt that he was very quickly going run out of ways to occupy himself.


Get along with ANYONE!

Mental Health
Through rigorous self-discipline and self-denial, Anthony slowly went about removing evil from his heart. He was patient in unpleasant circumstances and eventually stripped himself of the desire to harm others, then the desire for his own convenience if it would allow others to come to harm, then finally any desire for anything but the peace and joy of all living beings. His attention was so singularly fixed on this process that he hardly noticed as one by one, everyone in his life realized that his enlightened presence was simply too much to bear, and left him completely alone.