Friday, September 11, 2009

How I Spent my Summer Vacation/the Eagle has Landed

As with any other artist ever, my puzzle is a difficult one to solve.
I spent the first 18 years of my life within walking distance of the Mississippi River, amidst beautiful hills and lush, humid summers, in a town of less than 5000 people.
After earning my Masters degree 5 years ago, I moved to New York City, home to millions. The difference between the two places could not be more extreme. The first time I came to New York, my entire perspective was altered.
After a life of living within the homogenized landscape of the American Midwest, where corporate logos light the night atop aluminum poles 100 feet high, I had come to assume the entire continent was basically the same. NYC proved me completely mistaken: totally unique, totally amazing, truly American. New York provided redemption, in my eyes, for the rest of it all.
Last week, celebrating the wedding of my younger sister, I journeyed back to Wisconsin, leaving my projects behind for a much needed vacation.

For the first time in 10 years, I found myself fishing with my father.
We used to go all the time. In my youth, this was truly my obsession: I was fearless and driven.
This time, when I caught a sizable pike, I jumped back scared and made my dad remove the hook. I couldn't pick it up. It's strange how the child I once was could have easily have run circles around his future self. Some things we lose over time, others we gain. Right now, I'm a much better artist than that little boy ever was. Nah Nah!
My dad, never removed from the countryside, retains his outdoors skills.
His son, on the other hand, could tell you exactly what trains to take to get anywhere in the largest metropolis in our nation.
We have much in common, but differ vastly in many other ways.
Dad has always worn glasses, as long as I've known him. My eyesight is clear and unaided.
A friend in Brooklyn who's part Indian once gave me a tribal name. He called me Walking Eagle.
His explanation was that I have the vision to see great distances, yet I use it to focus on that which is near.
How we see the world has a lot to do with our eyes, but even more with our attitude, and especially with what we choose to believe.
Prosperity should be shining bright in the land of the free and the home of the brave, yet the glasses of Capitalism, Made with Pride in the USA, seem to be blocking all light.
Strange that the Americans of our past knew exactly how to deal with an unjust scenario, while we have convinced ourselves today that it's out of our control. "We hold these truths to be self evident: That all Men were Created Equal." How much more basic could it be? Our Founding Fathers designed the system for us to avoid this mess.
The longer we keep the glasses on, the more things we'll probably run into. The toes of our Nation are pretty damn stubbed. We're to the point where we can't stop cursing out loud, yet we keep on going ahead.
I hope, someday, we'll take them off the glasses and see our potential once more, rather than simply our bills and our debt. America, creator of the modern global financial rules, also has a difficult puzzle to solve.
I'll stick to being an artist. Back to work.

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