One of the many starting points for this blog was my three month stay in Greenland in 2008 where I felt like I was rain in a paper cup:
“The beat of the sea on the shore always calms my mind. Like the blood circulating my body the flow of water has its own rhythm – like my breath the sea rolls in and out at a pace that I don’t have to do anything to keep up with. I just follow. And after a while I relax.
That unnerving sensation. A feeling of having been upset not by some thing but by a thousand little things accumulating over the day, during the week, throughout the year. Moments of frustration adding up to general unease: the eternal lack of time and hastened pace of life, paternalistic politicians with endless good intentions, apathetic youth chasing fabricated dreams, overwhelming systematisation undermining common sense, news of warring factions and impoverished human beings, wealth of choice and lack of variety, environmental degradation and human-induced climate change, helpless everyday. How many pictures of misery can one cope with? Pictures amassing day after day, new faces and new places but same theme and same scheme. Pictures of pictures upset me the most. Bland iconic statements hiding the deeper story. It is all too often impossible to know if such pictures are sincere.
Tonight, untruthful pictures took me on a detour like signposts pointing in the opposite direction of where I was going. They let me believe they were real and got me lost in my own story. Replaced my ability to act with impotence. It took the singing of the sea and my blood in unison to dissolve my worry. As this cloud lifted the landscape shifted slightly. The mountains on the other side of the fjord moved so I could make out details previously hidden and a feeling of joy mixed with sadness welled up instead. I felt the beauty of the Arctic sunset, the longing for a certain woman far away on another continent, the presence of my beloved sister, an approaching journey, self-inflicted solitude, everything coming together in a second, and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I became aware that something was different from before, like when a dream crystallises and you suddenly remember the particular details of a nightly vision previously hidden in the unconscious.
That’s how these words began. Like the spilling over of the pouring rain in a paper cup that someone left on the table outside before seeking shelter.”
That diary transformed into other diaries. Like stone throws, the words have weaved themselves forward in time into these, taking form like “the assembling of a map torn in little pieces or the piecing together of a thousand-piece puzzle”. That still describes this little corner on the internet fairly accurately.
If the ‘general unease’ and ‘frustration with pictures of pictures’ I felt in 2008 was a starting point, I found an even earlier beginning during my stay in Greenland:
“In 1944 my grandmother, Atsa Louise Sørensen, set out from a small village named Arsuk and travelled up the western coast of Greenland to Aasiaat where she was to enter boarding school. That was the beginning of a story, a series of connected events, of which this is just another moment.
Had my grandmother not travelled from Arsuk to Aasiaat and onwards you would not be reading these words, thinking these thoughts, pausing at this full stop. Your day wouldn’t have started like it did and it wouldn’t end as it does.
In hindsight it looks incredible, almost impossible, but so is the world. So utterly improbable that one is tempted to regard it all as mere chance. The random collision of bodies. And yet flowers and lives alike unfold in patterns. Patterns which connect your thoughts and mine, which connect the journey of an old Inuk with your very own story.”
Looking back at the place at which I left this long re-membering more than a year and a half ago, I’m struck by improbability again (along with the returning image of the sea):
“There’s a still point when a wave has tumbled from its peak, embraced the shoreline and rolled back into itself. A moment when there is no movement and no anticipation of the next wave, a kind of zero point that reflects and holds the ongoing flow of the whole ocean. I think that this time between waves might be related to Cohen’s crack in everything [Rest in piece, field commander!]. There where the light gets in. Where something about the fundamentals is revealed. Where the unfathomable size of the ocean shines through and there is only ocean, only life force.
After re-membering for years, I have returned to the motherland and find myself nestled into a little spot between a Copenhagen S-train track and an urban park in the Nørrebro part of town. England is gone, Berlin is gone, the PhD is gone. In between waves there’s nothing I have to do, nothing that requires my attention. The big frame, the rack in the back of my mind that has held together all of my doings over the last years has dissolved and I’m reluctant to erect a new one.”
Looking back at years that fold in on themselves to when I published the very first post about meeting Mary Midgley, when I nervous and star struck threw myself into interviewing people, it seems improbable that all these words and moments string together to make a life.
Improbable that I should be picking up these words sitting in an old farmhouse in Ry, Jutland, Denmark.
Improbable that I am starting again on the night when fucking Donald Trump is up there on the podium looking serious, claiming that “the people are now in government” while he is bragging about everyone in his government being millionaires. Excuse me Mr.!
Improbable that my son is sleeping upstairs (seven years back, when I met Mary Midgley, I would not have children as a matter of principle: the world is too fucked to be worthy of children.). He is sleeping reluctantly, tired out from protesting against the idea that we don’t have to sit next to him for him to fall asleep.
Improbable the little character he is and the tracks he has already put down in our lives. The cracks he has opened. (An by the way, parenting is by no means easy, sleepless in phases, exceptionally joyful and one of those things which clarifies most practical things in life.)
This new and improbable starting point is hard to explain in brevity but I’ll try to describe some of the many waves that have rolled ashore since spring 2015: Jona’s arrival, nesting and nappy changes, job applications, project start up, project failure, travels to Germany, travels to England, becoming a family, unemployment fund chores, travels to Iceland, immigration admin, baby admin, more job applications, employment at Ry Højskole, housing search, starting work as a teacher, moving to Ry, running like a crazy to keep up, travelling to Istanbul, creating five new subjects, initiation as a teacher, Dark Mountain conversations, hosting visitors, summer party, second run teaching, travelling to London, crafting space, more visitors, back to Iceland, more running to keep up, Christmas in Germany, New Years in Ry and now in the midst of the third run teaching.
I am not prone to get sentimental but something has snuck in with fatherhood. Something tender perhaps. Or perhaps it is finally beginning to seep into my bones what it is we are loosing these years. What kind of world my son will inherit and have to navigate. Five years ago, it was still possible to invoke prophesies of the past or the position of stars in a distant galaxy and give in to the yearning that 2012 was a year that turned things around despite the heaps of crap we were swimming in. The crap doesn’t seem to want to go away. How do we avoid drowning in it? Perhaps that is it: survival is becoming a little more distinct.
My efforts with words these last years have centred on finding a map and a compass to navigate uncertainty and change. In all my searching, I have not found anything I could hold onto for directions except a conviction that all navigation today must be rooted in dead reckoning. My inquiries with the Dark Mountain Project taught me that to deal with the future we have to look deep into the present and find out how response-able we are to change. What we find there is all we need for a compass. My journey with “emergent figurative thinking” has arrived at three dialogues on practice, craft and wholeness, and I am now working on creating spaces where others can learn to attend.
If I felt in between waves where “there’s nothing I have to do, nothing that requires my attention”, I’ve picked up a wave again. I’m feeling it’s pull but I don’t know where it’ll take me. Teaching and parenting takes up 90% of my waking hours and a good part of my dreams as well. It is this motion that has brought me back to this blog. I’m beginning to feel like a cup that the rain has filled with no prospects of stemming the flow.
One way this is playing out is that I’ve started writing in Danish again and need a home for those texts, so you can now read Jeppe på dansk. (If you can.) I’ve tried to find a way to keep all the pictures, threads and patterns more or less coherent with a re-organising of the site. While I keep failing at finding something that suits the strange medley that is PatternWhichConnects, I hope this one will save me further renovations for a while. Far from perfect but the one thing I learned from fiddling with websites is that once the design bug bites you, it’s time to let go.
It’s got to saturday evening. Donald trump has been in office for one day. I went down to play with Jona on the pontoons by the lake this afternoon. Tomorrow my grandmother would have turned 88.
I re-member one of the last times we visited her when she’d shrunk into only skin and bones, her eyes distant and present at the same time, sitting in her chair with her immutable smile, her crooked fingers resting on the table next to the ashtray holding a burning cigarette. She gave us a smile back then, which lodged itself in me as a blessing to be alive. In a crazy time, where the stakes couldn’t be higher, everyone invites you in and the game is rigged, the ref is corrupt. But in a time that couldn’t be any other time and a time that is nestled inside THIS time, a time that by virtue of it’s absurdity offers more windows to sanity than many other times. I once write that “somewhere in the heavens an old Inuk is sitting chuckling away at the humour of it all”. I hear her laughter.
I don’t know where these words will go. But I know that in the pauses from the everyday, they bubble up. And that is all I need and want for now. As always, thanks for reading, whether you are old or new to the site. Laters.