May 27 2013

Alone With A Stranger

Something has changed and I could feel it before even opening my eyes. There was energy in the air, like static electricity and it was everywhere. Winter has been clinging to every particle of soil in an attempt to maintain its grip on the landscape even snowing for the last few days, but this was April and something new was taking place. Normally this time of year I find myself slowly putting my ski equipment away, packing away all the cold weather clothing and reflectively watch the snow melt and recede into my memory.

This month nothing is going in the direction that we are accustomed to, it’s continuing to snow and the temperatures have remained slightly chilly this spring. Soil would begin to appear beneath the trees in the woods, the sun warms the landscape just before clouds silently slip over the horizon engulfing the skies and the snow gently falls on the melting snow blanketing the rotten old snow in a fresh, healthy shade of white. The snow continues to fall and the air remains colder than normal frustrating all of us who are itching to see springs arrival.

Falling Snow Early Spring

Willing winter to disappear and bringing forth the birth of an overdue spring isn’t doing it, as the seasons really don’t listen to us humans with our pathetic miniscule and selfish needs. The seasons move along at their own lazy pace, deciding for themselves when they are ready to move on. Impatiently, we struggle to fight off the urge to give in and pull the equipment back out of the closet to hit the trails for what could be one final ski of the year. Experience has proved that letting the season pass, quietly remembering the last wonderful ski trip with all its amazing memories is a far better way to move on to spring than heading out on this horrible snow. Floundering in the soft, melting crud that offers no purchase to my kick wax would only prove to be a futile attempt at reliving that same great day I last experienced on the trail.

Late Spring Snow

Late winter, early spring the snow continues to fall. Nowhere is any dark soil to be found, this winter that refuses to fade away relentlessly dumps more snow each day driving fear into our hearts that spring may never come. Even now with all this fresh snow it just isn’t worth pulling out my ski’s, this wet powder only covers the chopped up cruddy ice that lays just beneath it and would give way to the trash beneath at the hint of any weight. Staring out the window or standing on the porch, I watch this stranger whom I’ve never met maintain a stranglehold on my world. I’m over it, I want winter to end, the soil to dry up, the leaves to unfold on the trees, and the flowers to bloom.

The end of April comes and goes but the snow stays, weighing down branches in the trees, weighing down the thoughts in my mind. Never mind that the temperature has risen to just above freezing, the snow continues to fall. To what end this season will come is anybody’s guess, the strangeness of the season is so foreign to us all. Alone I sit and wait for this madness to subside and anticipate the return of a more rational spring to step in and push aside this craziness that consumes my life for the time being. In time, the snow will melt leaving the land to itself once again. The soil will dry and the clouds will fade away to a strengthening sun. The mosquitos will return and annoy all in this land while we duck, swat and wave at invisible and imagined insects that are seemingly constantly attacking our heads. The trees will turn green and the flowers will bloom, spring will arrive and the world will be right. Time will pass and we will forget what it felt like to go through the experience of winter’s intrusion into our spring, shortening our summer and erasing our perception of what was once a predictable change of season. Alaska just reminded us that though we know what to expect from this land we must always remember that everything is subject to change.

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Apr 16 2012

Return of the American Dream

Once thought of, the American dream was to graduate college, find a high paying job in your field and be successful, get married and raise children. Woman in the past were expected to find the man of their dreams, get married, have several children and be a good person and a loving housewife. Job and family, owning that house with the white picket fence was the American dream but that dream faded as all dreams turn to fog in the memory of our minds.

The American dream became an actual dream, politics, cost of living, recession changed all that, the majority of people see their world more as a battle for survival than a gift bag of choices for their future. Our country had no longer been a country for people to wet their whistle on, to fantasize about what sort of future could be gained by this fat land we are fortunate enough to be born in. We grew from that fantasy of a place to do whatever we want with no limitations, the ceiling was limitless and we all set out testing the waters to find a niche where we would make our mark. The fact was that the American dream was dead.

Not dead in the sense that there isn’t a place for us to find a successful life, but the old crap that has been pushed in front of us as we grew up has died. That is not what this world, this country is about any longer and I am not the same blind man who society feeds on. In this day and age I can’t afford the house with the white picket fence and with the economy, our country has led itself into, I don’t see a reason that I would want to. Well times have changed and with it some of our desires and wants. This time is about the strong getting stronger and the weak grasping for air, jobs are a gift far and few between. I am transcending this ideology and elevating myself above the populace of fighting, to continue on the futile nightmare that was the American dream.

I have given birth to a new dream, a dream that has nothing to do with societal requirements. My American dream requires only that I follow through with the path that I have placed in front of me, a path of slight exploration and mild adventure. I am a realist and fully aware of the reality I exist in, I would never deceive myself in what I am capable of in this reality other than what I can test myself with and open my mind and eyes to a world I can appreciate fully. I’ll never find riches and it doesn’t matter, money can dilute the American dream, since humans tend to feed on greed naturally, it clouds judgment and misguides people from their true path. Even my saturated opinion has been influenced by the necessity to acquire wealth driving me to devote more and more time towards hours at work that were and are unnecessary. I am by no means suggesting that every person on this world is trapped in what-ever reality they’re presently in. I am discussing the idea that we no longer are expected to limit ourselves to the strict regime of narrow limitations that our parents and others in the past had been expected to see themselves.  My American dream is not to find financial security, living to pad the bank account to provide for my future and the future of whoever else might be in it, no. No, living for the moment and what tomorrow will offer up to me, and standing up to it, welcoming it, exploring it and my limitations, that’s my American dream. Irresponsible and reckless perhaps, but life is about how we live, period.

The new American dream is a dream that never ends, it is continuous, the dream evolves as we evolve and actively brings the dream and ourselves into a harmony, an exploration and discovery about ourselves, and a world that we don’t know everything about.

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Sep 15 2010

Going Home

Originally I was a Californian, and then I became a Las Vegan of which I was happy to be, and lavished in the baking sun of the Mojave Desert. Then it happened at great expense and to my own fault I became an Alaskan.
Though the decision to become an Alaskan was made fairly quickly, and without much thought, it was a move that had an incredible impact on my life.

For me moving to Alaska became a great pilgrimage, artistically as well as spiritually. I was deeply involved in my landscape photography and writing. I would feverishly hit the road attempting to photograph as much as my brain could absorb, completely unaware of how overwhelmed I had become by the world I suddenly thrust myself into. Gone were the great expanses of nothingness, micro worlds of fauna and nature tightly bundled in the desert to survive, exploded in savage freedom among the rolling hills and flat river deltas of Alaska’s interior.

I waited until my first winter to focus on my artistic mind, to narrow down the band width of expression that had become so jumbled in my mind.
With winter came the simplistic reality that I had been craving and began actually flexing my creative senses. Now it began to dawn on me that this is where I was supposed to be and vowed that in time I would open my gallery and write a book about what it is like to photograph in Alaska. So many books out on the shelves show all those wonderful images of Alaska’s incredible bounty of nature and wilderness without talking about the experience (both physical and emotional) and what it took to get those images.
I wanted a book that talked about the drive and less about the destination.

Then a life altering change took place that redirected the path I had chosen for myself, divorce.
Divorce removed all my artistic passion. My willingness to express any words on paper or shoot a single frame of film had drowned and sank into the depths of the depression I was experiencing. I was abruptly forced into enslavement in the common workforce of the everyday man.
Such a man, that I went to great lengths to leave behind, but there I was working two jobs seven days a week for a couple of years trying to make ends meet. Once the opportunity came to actually have a couple of days off a week I jumped at it and reveled in the time away from the drone of humanity.

In time I migrated further and further back into the wilds around me again, running the local trails, backpacking everything I saw.
The craving was growing inside me again. In winter I exploded with love for the world around me, passion welled up from within some lonely place in my body and oozed out in a rebirth that at times left me in tears.

Cross country skiing allowed me to travel further back on trails that few people if any travel when it’s twenty degrees below out, but I was breathing in the silence and emptiness of a place devoid of humanity. If and when somebody approached, another skier or (and most often) a dog musher the interruption was like a freight train blowing past me.
I started seeing things differently, in a way I haven’t seen things in quite some time. It even took a year for me to realize that my mind’s eye was looking at everything as an opportunity to photograph, that I was experiencing a want to describe what this world offers us if we just take the time to stop and stare at what’s in front of us a little longer.

Maybe I have become more mentally stable as time has gone by, separated further and further from that dark period in my past. Maybe my mind is forgetting the pain and returning back to me that person who I once was minus the whole marriage thing.
Time is affording me the opportunity to get back to the world I belong in, and if I don’t begin to place one foot before the other, I’ll lose the path all together, so here I go…….

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