When I was 29, it was the year in my life when Bradley was conceived and born. It was also in the middle of my Saturn Return. This caused a lot of internal self-reflection. At some point in all this I was reading in the Book of Mormon in the book of Morni – “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.”
I remember clearly thinking that I wanted to be filled with this love, so I got on my knees and in one of those moments of sincere pleading I asked for this charity, this love, this pure love. In the middle of praying after speaking my request my soul said to me “Are you sure this is what you want? This will destroy your family and your life!” I paused for a moment and then in a very confident manner stated “Yes! I am sure.”
I was willing to pay the price at that time. As with many things that involve the soul the price is often greater than imagined. From that moment on I began having experiences that would crack the thick exterior around my inner world. On the 19th of January 2003, a few months before I turned 31 all of the walls that kept my life together crashed around me. The morning started with my coming out to my Navy psychologist. By the time the day ended I had told my commanding officer, my religious leaders and my extended family. The world as I knew it ceased to exist that day.
But the supreme meaning is the path, the way and the bridge to what is to come. That is the God yet to come. It is not the coming of God himself, but his image which appears in the supreme meaning. God is an image, and those who worship him must worship him in the image of the supreme meaning.
The supreme meaning is not a meaning and not an absurdity, it is image and force in one, magnificent and force together.
The supreme meaning is the beginning and the end. It is the bridge of going across and fulfillment.
The other Gods died of their temporality, yet the supreme meaning never dies, it turns into meaning and then absurdity, and out of the fire and blood of their collision the supreme meaning rises up rejuvenated anew.
The image of God has a shadow. The supreme meaning is real and cast a shadow. For what can be actual and corporeal and have no shadow?
The shadow is nonsense. It lacks force and has no continued existence through itself. But nonsense is the inseparable and undying brother of the supreme meaning.
Like plants, so men also grow, some in the light, others in the shadows. There are many who need the shadows and not the light.
The image of God throws a shadow that is just as great as itself.
The supreme meaning is great and small, it is as wide as the space of the starry Heaven and as narrow as the cell of the living body.”
January 19th, the day all of my panic attacks stopped occurring regular three or four times a week, I found myself in the shadow of God. The meaning of my life turned into absurdity and I got swept up into the blood and fire of their collision. Here I am 16 years later finding that the absurdity is beginning to turn into meaning again and the glimpse of the supreme meaning is beginning to appear.
I find the Bonneville Salt Flats a magical place of transformation. It was decided this year that it was a perfect place for the fall equinox. Leaving Salt Lake City late afternoon I arrived at the Salt Flats just after 5 p.m. A storm hit just before leaving the city. When I arrived the area was covered in about a foot of water. I spent some time out in the water on the Salt Flats. It was the prefect place for me splash around and have fun. The place was radically changed temporarily into a lake. Moving into this new astronomical season will be one of metamorphosis in my own personal life. [a special thanks to Natalie Henry for the pictures and permission to use them]
Saying goodbye is difficult especially when it is a place that you really love. Sweden is one of those places. No place is a utopia but Sweden is certainly a beautiful country and there was a lot of positives about living there. I have avoided writing in my blog pretending that if I do not that day would never come. Not only has the day come but I am now two weeks into my return to the United States. This is by no means a permanent goodbye but only a temporary parting. Sweden will always be a part of me. More so now that I have lived there. Sweden has forever changed me.
Of all the things that I did and experienced in Sweden the highlight was getting to know my mother-in-law better. Through that experience I gained a new mother. I will always be grateful for that. And even now two weeks on I miss her. I added three fun nephews and one adorable niece and some new siblings to my family. Vanim’s family welcomed me and I feel as if I am part of their family now. So not only have I left a part of my heart there but I have left behind part of my family.
It was not easy deciding to return to America but in the end I chose the path that I think will be the best for my immediate family in the long run. Now that the decision has been made I will do that best I can to make this a successful choice. Really in the end that is all I can do.
I will continue to write in my blog because I find it useful for me. The nature and purpose of my blog will of course naturally change. It will evolve and change into something new. So for now good bye Sweden and I will see you again.
Last Thursday the Sweden’s King came to Kristiandstad to celebrate the city’s 400th birthday. In the early afternoon there was a parade with the King from the museum to the main city park. many people had come just to see the King in person. As the king got closer I was taking pictures and realized that I had yet to see the king, up to that point I had only seen him though the lens of my camera. I put my camera down and then began to have a more meaningful experience.
After the parade ended the king moved to the gardens in the park to plant a tree. The crowd naturally followed to watch. I managed to arrive before the majority of the people and secured a good spot to watch the proceedings. The crowd turned out to be more interesting to watch. The crowd clamored to catch a glimpse of the King. A large portion of them had there eyes glued to cameras or video recorders. There was one woman in particular who never once removed her eyes from her cell phone camera as she pushed her way through the crowd in an attempt to capture the best possible picture.
Pondering over this experience gave me some better insight. In my life going forward I want to be more present in my experiences, to experience more ,photograph less and be more mindful of the photos I do take. I want my blog to be more about what I write. I started it mainly out of my love of writing. Over time it has move more towards pictures and has involved less writing. Now I am refocusing my attention more on writing with less reliance upon pictures.
In the end I do not want my life experienced only through the lens of a camera.
This week for the second time in two weeks the subject of equality and equal treatment came up in my Swedish for Immigrants class. The first was a presentation on sexual health and the second was a follow up on a required class on bullying everyone was required to attend in December. Each time part of that discussion goes something like this, If a man likes a man it is OK and if they want to get married it is OK. If a woman likes a woman it is ok and if they want to get married it is OK.
Now these discussions do not just center around sexual orientation. They also include someone’s religion, skin color, education level, and other areas that could have the potential for inequality. This is not to say that Sweden is a UTOPIA, but Sweden has become committed to the idea of equal and made great strides in the direction.
This contrasts against my experiences in the United States. My career in the United States Navy came to an end in 2003 because of my sexual orientation. In Utah there always existed the possibility I could lose my job if my employer found out I was gay. When Vanim and I began our relationship I began to confront the realities of inequality on a very real and personal basis again. There was no way for me to obtain medical insurance for Vanim. In the end we ran into we ran into the big wall called DOMA that meant I had to immigrate to Sweden if we were going to stay together.
Really it is an extraordinary things for me when I hear the importance of equality and equal treatment in public institutions as a requirement not just a nice thing to strive for. It also brings a great amount of peace to know that Vanim and I are treated the same under the law as any other relationship here in Sweden. Since I have lived here in Sweden many things have begun to change in the United States. The United States government will now allow Vanim to obtain a visa if we are legally married. The prohibition against same sex marriages in Utah has been overturned by a federal judge waiting for appeal. It gives me a great deal of hope for a better brighter future for the United States when it comes to matters of equality.
In the last week I have become more conscious of my relationship to the camera. I was at the Lund Cathedral when I started to take pictures. I began to feel as if the camera was interfering so I put it away. Without the camera between me and the cathedral my interaction and experience with the place started to chang. I began to have a much more intimate encounter with the cathedral.
A couple of days latter Heather Schaefer posted an article on Facebook from The Globe and Mail called Humanity takes millions of photos everyday. Why are most so forgettable? Ian Brown the author was an adjudicator of the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival Photography Competition where this year for the first time in 18 years there would not be a winner. Of the more than 500 entries no one was able to present a visual story that the judges thought worthy of recognition. He quotes Conrad Habing one of his co-judges as saying the entrants “were trying to make up for a lack of vision with a bag of tricks” vision being defined as “a point of view that says something about yourself.” Another one of his co-judges said “people take photographs because they can, not because they should.” Ian Brown goes on to make some more interesting observations about photography. I would recommend reading the complete article.
I went back to Lund Cathedral today and took pictures this time. I will not stop taking pictures. This blog is as much a part of me as those of you who read it and I have had several request for pictures. What has changed though is that I am now more aware of the experiences I am having. Sometimes that means no camera.
In a blog post I read when I first started this blog titled 15 Reasons I Think You Should Blog by Joshua Becker reason number 3 was that you would live a more intentional life. “Once you start writing about your life and the thoughts that shape it, you.ll begin thinking more intentionally about who you are, who you are becoming and whether you like what you see or not.” I have certainly started to see that happening in my own life. My interaction with the camera and the world around me is just one of those more intentional interactions that are starting to reshape my life in more meaningful ways.