We Have the Power To Change the World (If We Were Allowed To…)

Isn’t it funny, in the saddest possible meaning, that we live in a world where our natural abilities are so overlooked and pushed aside? I mean, having a “regular” day job, whatever that means, is celebrated more than anything else and held above any hippie nonsense such as allowing people to be whatever they are best at.
I’m good at two things; writing songs and making drawings, but those two things are probably at the bottom of all the things I do in a day. My wife takes awesome pictures with her iPhone. If she had the money to buy a real camera or even get an education in photography I know she could go far. I have coworkers who are painters, sculptors, weavers and woodworkers but we all spend 8 hours/day at our day job.
Imagine if the world would let us do what we do best.
Sometimes I think about what I could have achieved if I was allowed to use my creativity to the fullest. I don’t know about others, but I know for me, it’s like my brain evolves when I am allowed to explore those part where I use the creativity that I have in me. I know I have it in me, for example, to make music for a movie. I know that the more I get to explore the creative nooks and crannies in my brain, the more stuff I find hiding in there and at times where I am allowed to really dig deep,I kind of amaze myself with the things I come up with…and the more time I spend just working a regular job, the more I feel like that’s all slipping away from me.
Do you know what I mean?

There’s a sequence of songs on my first album, “For All Happy Endings”, that I wrote in, I think, 2 days. I was in some sort of creative haze and the melodies just slipped out of my head, into my guitar and piano and came out just great. If you care to look it up, the sequence I think about are “Divine”, “Something, Not Sunlight”, “Song Against Life” and “Belly Full of Butterflies”. I remember those days and how amazing the feeling was, being allowed to fully emerge in my creativity, how rewarding the feeling to see what I could achieve…

In my work with color pencils I am constantly surprised by the drawings I am able to do when I have a little time and peace of mind to actually sit down and work for a couple of days.

Driving Up the Mountain, 2017
Komorebi, Black Canyon, 2018.
Reflections on Abiquiu Lake, 2018
Oltorf/Lamar, 9/11/2016, 2018
Snowy Trail, 2018

Why in the world are we all supposed to give our life away to a day job when all the combined skills and creativity of people could change the world – and I know it could – if we were only allowed to really utilize it…?
I think about these things a lot. 
Does anyone else?

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A Walk In The Woods

In the past few weeks, my wife and I have watched a bunch of movies and documentaries about people going on month long hikes. We watched ” A Walk In the Woods” with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte – a heartwarming little movie based on an awesome book. We saw “Redwood Highway” about an older lady deciding to walk to her granddaughter’s wedding. We’ve seen documentaries about people hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail, others rode across the country with a bunch of mustangs and so on…

No Title. Color Pencil On paper, 2016

Every time I see these movies I feel an urge so strong that it brings me to tears…I feel the need to walk, to leave the everyday struggle, to be one with nature, to sleep under the stars, to breath, to see the grandness of the open landscape. To be at peace, for once…but as with everything else in my life, I know this will not happen at least not for a very, very long time. We’re just so stuck in the struggle of getting through the day, the week and the month to pay bills, rent to get the medications and supplements needed, to find doctors, to run tests, to survive…that I don’t see how something like a months’ long hike could ever happen. I’d have to win the lottery to stand a chance. I just know that doing something like this would be extremely satisfying, I can feel it in every cell of my body.

I have never camped, other than the weekend long drunk camping excursions when we played at music festivals back in the days. But that’s not the same…waking up hungover in a sea of people being drunk, hungover, stoned, high…not really relaxing. Fun – yes – but that was 15 some-odd years ago and I have no desire to do that again…

Komorebi, Black Canyon.Color pencil on paper, 2018. 16″X 20″

How do you get out of poverty?

How do you get the financial help you need to take care of a body that needs so much help you don’t even know where to start?

How do you get the attention from a non existent support net when everyone you once knew is absent and ignorant to your struggle; when even close family choose to ignore the most urgent reality of your situation?

I have to admit, I have had visions play in my head where my wife loses the battle, where her body gives up. Where I am left completely alone. And those visions are scary. I read all too often about fighters like her finally losing the battle and it is something that I think about all too often these days.

In a few hours my wife is going in for surgery on her wrist. It is her right wrist this time. In December it was the left wrist. Osteopenia, on top of chronic illness, premature ovarian failure and god knows what else is wrong…?

I dream of some relief for us both, some break, some good luck…something to break this cycle of decline and struggle.

I would take a long, long walk in the woods over this anytime.

Snowy Trail, Color pencil on paper, 2018

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Dreaming

No Title, color pencil on paper, 2018

I had a dream last night. That’s not so strange, I guess, the strange part is that I remembered it when I woke up.

For years and years I would write down my dreams when I woke up in the morning. They were long, vivid stories; weird settings and events and I remembered them clearly. Writing them down allowed me to revisit them later on and actually remember them again.

For the past 4 years or so, I hardly ever remember any of my dreams…I guess the stress of life has gotten the best of me and my brain doesn’t get the relaxation it needs to file these dreams as something important…?

Last night I dreamed I was someone in a small town and I was being hunted for some reason. I was trying to get into a hospital to get some sort of treatment. Somehow I managed to get in and a nurse helped me out. I was able to sneak back out again, security guards everywhere looking for me. As I got back to town I was greeted by 4 or 5 big dudes. I thought they were going to arrest me but it turned out they were marines that were there to protect me. They formed a wall around me with their bodies and as I realized I was safe, I almost collapsed from relief…

Today is my birthday and I feel anything but safe or saved; my wife and I have been given notice to move out and we are trying to find a place we can afford, which is hard since we only have one income since my wife has not been able to work since 2012…We have moved 8 times in the past 9 years and we were really hoping that we would be able to stay here for years to come, but our landlord’s husband died and now her son is moving to town to help her out…and we’re in the way…so out we go…

The drawing above is an illustration I did for a publication. It was fun and challenging to do something for someone else and it forced me to think differently and approach the subject from a different angle…

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Komorebi

Color pencil on paper, 2018. 16″X 20″
Prints available, signed and numbered.$100 + shipping.

Komorebi is Japanese  for “The interplay between light and leaves when sunlight shines through trees .”

The fact that there is a word describing this is just so beautiful, isn’t it?

My wife and I hike a lot on the trails around Santa Fe. We have two dogs and it is such a joy to watch them on the trail; their happiness so profound and basic, radiating all around them, warming our hearts every time. Pure Joy!

This drawing is from a photo I took when we were hiking Black Canyon trail. Connected to a campground, this trail is not very frequented in the winter, as the campground closes down at the end of September. Most of the time we are all alone and we enjoy these hikes tremendously. Anyone hiking with dogs will know what I mean.

Nature heals and soothes the soul, I truly believe that. Before moving up to Santa Fe, I never realized just how much I love the mountains and the forests. I was always an ocean guy, I always thought that was my thing, but my wife and I both have come to love and appreciate the nature here more than we ever thought we would.

Yesterday we tried out a trail we’ve never hiked before – Bear Canyon, right behind the Audubon Center here in Santa Fe. A trail that is only maintained part of the way. We hiked as far as we could get before losing site of the trail marks. As it was getting dark, we turned around. There’s been a lot of predator activity lately around here and we didn’t want to linger when it got dark.

About 5 minutes from the car, my wife slipped. I watched her go down, it was a slow fall and it didn’t look bad, but she automatically put her hand behind her and immediately cried out and I knew it was bad.

My wife does not complain lightly over pain, she once went three days with a deep vein thrombosis before going to the hospital…and when she screamed and cried and said it was broken, I knew for sure it was bad. We limped back to the car, my wife almost passing out from the pain. Got to the hospital and got it confirmed; her wrist was indeed broken and she now has weeks, if not month’s of recovery ahead of her…

Trails are beautiful. Sometimes they’re dangerous too.

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Time Is a Curious Thing.

“Reflections On Abiquiu Lake pt 2” Color pencil on paper, 2018.

Time.

Sometimes it is a memory, sometimes it’s a smell, sometimes it’s the loss of a memory, the loss of a name or how to get to somewhere. Mostly we don’t notice time until we stop and allow ourselves to remember, to feel the absence of something or that weird feeling in your chest of missing someone you haven’t seen in a long time.

Time as a measurement of time itself doesn’t really do the trick, does it? It has to be time, in relation to something, or someone.

It feels like yesterday my wife and I were sitting in the car, on our way home one evening, it was still late summer and she said she wanted to go to Abiquiu lake again before summer’s end. I said “sure, there’s still time to go!”

And then there wasn’t.

Fall swept in quickly and summer ended and so did the opportunity to swim in Abiquiu lake. Until next summer. Further down the track of time that we have been given.

I was sitting in the backyard just now, letting the dogs out to potty. I sat by our small IKEA patio set; two folding chairs and a half moon shaped table. I looked up at the apricot tree and the bare branches, but all I saw was me on a ladder picking apricots under a sun lit sky. That was just a few months ago, but it feels longer, and yet so close.

I remember the day we boarded the plane that would take us from Copenhagen to Atlanta and from there to Austin TX. As we were boarding we were all cramped in together waiting to check in and I remember vividly thinking “if something happens, these are the people I will die with…”

I didn’t really think about it, it was just one of those thoughts that pop into your head for a second and then it’s gone.

That was on July 27, 2009, but it feels like yesterday.

What’s left of time are little snippets, moments of life that passed you by at some point, and a lot of those snippets seem so insignificant sometimes; the strangest images of moments that seem like they weren’t that important.

But maybe they were?

If I took all those little snippets that I can remember and put them together in a film, that would be the film of my life, my time here on earth. One by one they may not make much sense, but all together they might paint a pretty telling image of my life.

It would be interesting to see.

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Wide Open Spaces

abiquiu

“Reflections On Abiquiu Lake”

Color pencil on paper, 13X19″, 2018

$550

 

I work at Whole Foods in Santa Fe, it is a workplace bustling with movement, people, sounds, music…there’s not a quiet moment. I kind of like that, I like interacting with people, I like the casual conversations that take place.

Sometimes those casual conversations stay in my thoughts for days. Like the guy I met who had traveled around Sweden right after 9/11. Of Mexican/middle eastern descent, he raised a lot of eyebrows when hitchhiking around Dalarna in the north parts of Sweden. He said people were friendly but also kind of suspicious and a little scared of him. There’s a Mora in Sweden and a Mora here in New Mexico, a funny coincidence.

Yesterday I met another man from Denmark. The Danish accent is pretty easy to spot and as he was asking about the coffee set up, I could hear clearly where he was from. We started talking and I asked how he ended up around here. He said he had come here 29 years ago for work and he never went back. Now he lives outside Alamosa in Colorado by the great sand dunes. He said he loves the wide open spaces, the vastness of the landscape. There’s nothing like it in Denmark. Not in Sweden either for that matter. He said he hates the politics, but loves the people and touching on the subject of politics in Europe – Sweden and Denmark both – he got quiet and I could tell he was trying to find the right words, but he just shook his head and said “there are so many bad things going on…”

A few weeks ago, I had a lady asking about our bread selection and I recommended our Prussian Rye loaf, a dark, dense, rich bread that reminds me about the breads my dad would bake when I was a kid, growing up in Sweden. She said: “I’m from Sweden!” “Oh, so you speak Swedish then?” I asked

“Of course!” she said and then told me in Swedish that she was from Uppsala and that her name was Birgitta. She had lived here for more than 20 years and she had no plans of moving back.

Then there’s the young mother who comes in with her two kids. She speaks a little bit of Swedish as she lived there for a year or two as a student and every time we meet, I teach her boy a Swedish word.

Of all the emigrants from Sweden/Denmark, the one thing they all say is that they don’t want to go back. They all hate the political situation here in the US, but there is something about this land that grabs a hold of you, something about the wide open spaces, the people…the freedom…I say freedom reluctantly, because there is little freedom when it comes to the politics, healthcare and so on, but there is a lot of freedom in the landscapes, the wide open spaces, the mountains and valleys, the deserts, the small towns and the big cities like New York and Houston and I love it. There are so many things I have yet to see and one of these days I hope to get my hands on a camper van and drive all around these united states of mixed emotions and see it all up close.

One day I will travel the wide open spaces.

For now, however, I have to settle for little snippets of stories from the strangers I meet at Whole Foods here in little Santa Fe.

 

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A Dreamless Sleep

 

Kaunes

“At Kaune’s” Color pencil on paper, 2018.

For years and years I used to write down my dreams. I had a diary where about half of the entries were long, vivid descriptions of whatever adventures I had experienced during the night. Writing the dreams down was a great way to start the day and reading them afterwards, I could clearly remember every detail.

I miss those days.

These days I sleep a dreamless sleep. I can’t remember the last time I had a dream. I’m sure I have them all the time, but my brain isn’t able to remember and process them. I know that stress has moved into my head, my heart and every part of my mind and body. I try not to let it, but I can’t help it. Dreams are pushed out and replaced with worry about all the usual; bills, rent, medications etc etc.

This morning I woke up and I remembered a picture that might have been a part of a dream that has disappeared from my memory;

I’m looking out the window of my car as I’m standing at a red light, a specific red light at the intersection of Cerillos and St. Francis here in Santa Fe. As I’m waiting for the light to change, I look over to my left. There’s a man standing on the median, holding a sign. At first I don’t pay attention, but there’s something about him that makes me look twice, and when I do, I realize that the man standing there is me and that other version of me is holding a sign that says:

“My wife is chronically ill

and though I have an iron will,

I can’t pay all my bills…”

 

How’s that for an image?

That’s how my brain works these days, all consumed by the constant struggle to make ends meet.

And then I wake up and go to work and I work hard five days a week but no matter how hard I work, the money just isn’t enough. No matter how hard I try to get my art “out there”, I can’t seem to get any feedback…

And so the days go by and as the month approaches it’s ending, my stress builds up, as I know I will not be able to pay my rent. Or my bills. Or my wife’s medications and supplements that she needs so badly to be able to function. And I wonder when we will get out of this darkness we are in?

I suppose I am still to find my right place in the world, a place where all my abilities can be used. I don’t know what they are, but I know I am more than this. I know I am more than a figure holding a sign at some intersection.

I’m just not sure what.

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