“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”  -  Antoine de Saint-Exupery from The Prince

Rick Hotton is stuck in time, but he’s not complaining. The 52-year-old cartoonist from Sarasota, FL, lives life with the kind of soulful deliberation more commonly associated with an ancient temple or monastery. Hotton would rather observe the flight of a mud wasp or study a turtle munching on grass than watch a popular television show or sporting event.

His reflective nature and reverence for life is the by-product of practicing and teaching martial arts since he was 14. Hotton has trained thousands of students over the years; 55 have earned their black belt under his skilled tutelage.

It is Hotton’s regard for tradition and ritual that frames his outlook about life and the human experience. It’s also the essence of his award-winning cartoon Holy Molé, an original creation influenced by Eastern sensibilities and the etiquette of martial arts.

“Mindfulness is at the heart of my martial arts practice and Holy Molé,” he said. “Both involve an appreciation for the intrinsic spirit in everything and the deeper truths about living with focused awareness.”

Hotton hand draws each strip with an ink pen on a plain sheet of paper. To color the strips, he uses a simple watercolor set, the same inexpensive brand found in many elementary schools. The Holy Molé collection features 900 strips and current customers include 30 newspapers and magazines in the USA, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain. Most of the cartoon’s growth has occurred in the past several months, and the Holy Molé Facebook page has attracted more than 1,200 friends from around the world.

Hotton sees Holy Molé as an unassuming crusader for mindful living in an era when people feel disconnected from the superficiality of modern times. His strips capture the angst and humor people feel about a culture obsessed with celebrity worship, new gadgets and continuous hype presented as news.

“Holy Molé reminds people what’s real and important, things like compassion, honor and the regard for the sacredness of life,” he explained. “It’s an expression of the kind of authenticity many people long for in their busy lives.”

Hotton never set out to be a cartoonist or advocate for social change. The art form found him in 2005, first as a relaxing outlet and eventually as a creative way to encourage mindfulness and compassion. Holy Molé caught on quickly with early fans that began collecting and sharing Rick’s doodles. Today, he draws six new strips each week with a mindful focus that would impress any sage.

The central theme of Holy Molé is the hero’s journey to greater understanding and self-acceptance. It’s a familiar path of hope and courage that resonates with people of all ages. Why am I here? What is my purpose? Which path is right for me? The woodland critters in Holy Molé mirror our human tendency of stumbling forward in spite of our misunderstandings about ourselves and our circumstances.

Mole, the endearing star of Holy Molé, is the archetypal seeker, which is ironic, given that moles are blind. It’s an intentional irony reminding us that our spiritual instincts provide us with clarity as long as we pay attention.

Hotton finds fulfillment in knowing that sharing Holy Molé and teaching martial arts encourages mindfulness.

“I’m one of many people that long for a kinder world,” he added. “Although the path can be difficult at times, we make our greatest progress when we share our journey with others. I feel that sense of connection when I’m training in the dojo and drawing a new cartoon strip. It’s a good feeling that gives me hope and a deep sense of purpose.”

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