My Letter to Wendell Berry

My Letter to Wendell Berry

February 4, 2014  |  Blog  |  No Comments

Two and a half years ago I wrote to Wendell Berry. I had just turned 30 and, reflecting back upon my life, I felt the need to write him a letter of thanks for the guiding force his words had been to me. At the time, I had known of his work for ten years and had his book "The Art of the Commonplace" for nearly as long. Below is an excerpt of my letter to him, and below that is the great compliment I received from him only weeks later....

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Take Five — a theme this year

Take Five — a theme this year

January 6, 2014  |  Art, Big Picture, Blog, Featured  |  2 Comments

ONE word for the new year. One word to describe the theme for your year? Friends here in Amsterdam decided this was a better way to do the traditional New Years Resolution. Instead of making resolutions that are unfortunately shorter than that new gym membership, what can we make of the year if we call it by a name? What do I desire for this coming year? ....

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The Things I Fear

The Things I Fear

November 8, 2013  |  Big Picture, Blog  |  No Comments

When I came to Amsterdam, I sold most of my possessions, or put them on the curb to watch them all be picked through by my neighbors. It felt rather freeing, actually: to be so free of material possessions. It may be a bit cliché to say so, but it’s really how I felt. I even sold my car, the symbol of American freedom and independence (ironically, my symbol was Swedish). And I left for Europe and a new direction....

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Memories of Alabama

Memories of Alabama

September 24, 2013  |  Blog  |  No Comments

A while back, a memory came to me vividly — more so than most memories do. At the time, I was feeling homesick. I doubted what I was doing here in Amsterdam. I wanted to have a home. Why do I keep leaving home, I asked myself. My memory was from my childhood: a boy, maybe eight or ten years old. I was with my grandparents and siblings (or cousins) on a summer day in South Sauty, Alabama. I went to Alabama in the summers to visit my grandparents, who spent years building and refining their historic log cabin on the banks of the Tennessee river....

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From Portland to Amsterdam via Seattle

From Portland to Amsterdam via Seattle

August 7, 2013  |  Big Picture, Blog, Thoughts, Travel  |  No Comments

As the plane rounds onto the runway from the tarmac and the engines started to rev to full acceleration, it begins to hit me: I’m leaving America. In the past month, I haven’t had time to think or feel anything. It has felt so surreal. Saying goodbyes to friends hasn’t felt like long goodbyes, but more of the sort of goodbyes said before a long vacation. I want to come back to Portland, but I want to come back more confident, secure in myself, what I do, much more experienced, and having crafted my talents into something more extraordinary. I want to have stories to tell, knowing that I have lived this God-given life to the best of my abilities.

I don’t know where this journey will lead me, but I’m happy for that. We spend so much of our life looking for answers, for some direction and guidance — but my life has always been lived in the tension between doubt and faith. Of the two, I lean more on faith because it is more beautiful in the mystery it holds. Do I really want to know exactly what will happen to me in five years? Isn’t the surprise what makes it beautiful?

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While having coffee in Denver

While having coffee in Denver

June 30, 2013  |  Big Picture, Blog, Travel, Uncategorized  |  No Comments

It’s funny the direction life takes you, and how there is a path in the midst of the mess it often appears to be. I often feel I am wandering in a woods with no clear path, but looking back I see a path that was well carved. I don’t quite believe in life having a determined fate, but one that is constantly changing with the different paths we take. That said, I do have a faith that I will arrive at a destination that will serve me and others well. Better yet, I am excited of the journey I will take, knowing that I still have rough roads ahead. What would life look like without good discomfort? I desire to live a life well lived, and one full of meaning — however I attribute that. I do fear that discomfort, but I have faith in the sweetness of rest that will follow. And so I am not starting a new journey when I move to Amsterdam, but am continuing on with an old journey that has served me well thus far. Though I sometimes doubt the progress I have made, I know that I have lived well and know that I can live better.

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Ignorant Pilgrim

Ignorant Pilgrim

October 18, 2011  |  Blog, Thoughts  |  No Comments

This passage comes from Wendell Berry’s novel “Jayber Crow”. I’m heavily struck each time I read this. I relate so much to how the character, Jayber, feels here. I love this.

If you could do it, I suppose, it would be a good idea to live your life in a straight line—starting, say in the Dark Wood of Error, and proceeding by logical steps through Hell and Purgatory and into Heaven. Or you could take the King’s Highway past appropriately named dangers, toils and snares, and finally cross the River of death and enter the Celestial City. But that is not the way I have done it, so far. I am a pilgrim, but my pilgrimage has been wandering and unmarked. Often what has looked like a straight line to me has been a circle or a doubling back. I have been in the Dark Wood of Error any number of times. I have known something of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, but not always in that order. The names of many snares and dangers have been made known to me, but I have seen them only in looking back. Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often I have received better than I have deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led—make of that what you will.”

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Josef Sudek - contorted trees

Josef Sudek – contorted trees

May 17, 2011  |  Art, Blog  |  No Comments

I've loved the work of Josef Sudek ever since I accidentally stumbled upon a large book of his prints in my university's library. In school, I'd often wander the aisles of the photography section, searching for divine inspiration through the works of old masters. In my discovery of the "Poet of Prague" I found a highly significant influence on my work thereafter. The book was Anna Farova's "Josef Sudek" and I've cherished the copy I bought several years after that day in the library....

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Directions to somewhere.

Directions to somewhere.

March 7, 2011  |  Blog, Thoughts  |  No Comments

Directions are a fickle thing. Who really knows where one is going all the time? Oftentimes I feel I never know until I get there. There’s too many roadside distractions and attractions, and ambiguity isn’t necessarily a full tank of gas. Who really knows what we want and/or need?

We’re all searching. We’re searching all the time. Sometimes we feel like we know where we are going — but mostly we feel like we’re lost. We’re not lazy, we just don’t know where to go.

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Ramblings on Now

Ramblings on Now

February 21, 2011  |  Blog, Thoughts  |  No Comments

In photography, the now becomes the past. The moment I press the shutter, the world is how I make it. I can make the past what I want it to be. I am comfortable with the past, with the present I am not, and with the future I don't know. Our past shapes who we are. But have we learned from our past? Like a teenager, we want to move quicker through life. Do we appreciate where we have been or where we are now? I have accepted the past but I do not accept the now....

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