Monday, 27 September 2010

The letting go

Offshore cruising is one of the few situations where the importance of letting go become crucial. If you can't let go - you're getting nowhere.

I was thinking about this when I stood on the bluff close to Golden Gate, and wondered why I kept looking towards the next bluff; the distant trees, the drifting fog.

This is all mental. We've met several cruisers, mostly elderly cruisers, who have stayed too long in a port. I guess they fell in love with a place, but it often goes together with a gathering of horror.

In most situations we can't let go at all; we cling to hopes and memories. We know the world is uncertain and that everything is in flux, but we still build our lives around these mental fixtures.

But the ability to let go is important. We have to let go of rude remarks, lousy drivers, or people we just find irritating, for whatever reason.

We have to let go of the past: ex-lovers, former spouses, or a really unfair treatment at work. We have to let go of fear: fear of getting cancer, a sudden heart attack, the fear of dying in our sleep, of crashing in cars or airplanes.

Offshore cruising take this to the very core: you start by the dock, and let go of the lines. Later on you let go of the coastline. Then you let go of your country.

Friday, 24 September 2010

A shot of Misery

I'm standing on the beach in Aquatic Park. I'm waiting for Nina to see me, to row over. I keep looking towards our boat at anchor. My mood is on an ebb. I've been on a long walk with the camera, I'm cold and tired.

I'm stirring at the boat, the grim breakwater. I'm stirring out at the wet fog, feeling low and mean. There's someone in my head who feels like having a serious shot of rum.

I'm thinking this is the downside of cruising. I'm thinking most people are indoors by now, or in their cars, with the heater on.

But then one of the Aquatic Park swimmers pass by, and I can feel my mood change for the better. These swimmers defy wind and fog.

I know that living close to the elements is a teaching in change. There's nothing personal in it, and there's no one really who deserves a drink for being miserable.

Monday, 20 September 2010

City of steel and fog

I've always found it kind of strange that cities, and even whole countries, can be reduced to simple psychological terms. As if we're talking about a single human being.

Say, a person could be suffering from paranoia, a delusion which often comes with hubris, and I sometimes find this a perfect match for a certain superpower, namely USA.

But San Francisco will not be pinned down as easily. It has a beaming smile for the tourist, but this will start to weaver if anybody are in for a prolonged stay. In fact, San Francisco seems have some serious mood swings. There's a distinct gloomy side. And this could very well be the reason for why I find the town so interesting.

photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
I left Nina on Market Street. We had a transfer ticket, but I wanted to walk. I had been waiting for the town to change.

It was late in the evening. Fog rolled in and obscured the sun, the tall buildings. Fog drifted like smoke through the structures. The last bit of sun set a facade of glass and steel on fire.

photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
Architecture may be the language of economical and political power, but buildings often grow into something unforeseen. I was wondering about this as I walked. How could downtown San Francisco be so powerful and yet so transient?

photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
Clerks and executives crowded the sidewalks. Cars where backed up in Sutter Street. But I kept looking up at those tall buildings. The upper floors seemed peculiarly lofty. Like dreams. Like something that's not really there. I had never seen steel and concrete like this before.

I often have this vague feeling while dreaming; like a neutral surrounding that's about to change for the worse.

photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
It was getting darker. People had cleared the street as I walked up Mason. A cold, moist wind was blowing.

photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
I passed a corner shop with three Chinese men standing in the doorway, smoking. They seemed somewhat depressed. Most windows where dark and empty.

The lights were on in a yellow kitchen. I spotted a little boy drumming with chopsticks. It was like a racket in total silence.

And on the next block, in a bleak and desolated window on third floor, was it an old, Chinese woman grinning? Did she really hunch closer to the window frame? Was she grinning down at me?

Monday, 13 September 2010

Cartoon Life

I know that some of my photos are kitsch, and I'm trying hard to subdue this unworthy bend towards sunsets. However, the evenings in San Francisco sometimes have a cartoon-like quality. How can I resist a sunset like this?

But what's beautiful is also generally inclined to be poisenous, or at least bad for us. Its striving towards perfection will make it un-natural.

There seems to be a vague connection between tasteless art and modern, tasteless groceries. It is mass-production for the mainstream public. We should know by now that cakes and tomatoes looks perfect but taste nothing.

The conclusion of all this should be an end to further photos of sunsets. Unless it's ironic, of course. Am I ironic? I don't think so, but I could fake it.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Dark Surf

The surfers are still out. Everybody seems to be fixated on something larger than themselves. They are here as a group, but they're all alone, standing far apart and engulfed in a quest for the perfect wave.

I find it interesting when people are obsessed by certain activities. You can see it in the way surfers stare out at the incoming waves. It's a focus that rules out all the trivial clutter in the brain.

surfing Ocean Beach photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
surfing Ocean Beach photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo Henrik Nor-Hansen Ocean Beach
photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
But isn't it kind of ironic that surfers search for the perfect wave? I mean, if anything is in a constant flux it must be the sea. Waves comes and goes, it's the medium for impermanence. The perfect wave is never there. Or it's there, but the ride is off. So the surfing continues.

dark surf photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo Henrik Nor-Hansen

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Twin Peaks

It's still dark when we dinghy ashore. We have a rental car that's supposed to be delivered at noon, and we want to make the most of it.

We drive to the vista point above Golden Gate, but the fog is thick and we can't see neither the brigde nor anything else. Time is of an essence and we decide to drive on.

We end up at the vista point on Twin Peaks. We've been bickering about where to drive, and this is it. It's still foggy, though.

There's a parking lot and some trees. It's hard to figure out what the rest is about. I'm walking restlessly along the rim of what's suppose to be one of the major views of San Francisco.
There are several mounted binoculars that gives a hint of what to expect. Is the town down there? How high up are we? Can we see Golden Gate? I have no idea. We just have to wait until the sun burns through.

There's a woman on a bycycle. She's sifting through the garbage. Did she came all the way up here for that? That's amazingly hard work for a few plastic bottle cents.

I'm walking back to Nina. Another car pulls up besides us. I see two guys, and they are not here for the view. They're sharing a pipe. The smoke turns the frontscreen to a whiteout. We can hear bass rytms pounding through the metal frame of the car.

There's no one else up here but us. I feel it's wise to leave, though I'm not saying that to Nina. Fear is a strange thing. I'm anxious not to give myself away as squeemish.

Finally they lower their windows and the rap music come blasting out. There's a poignat smell of marihuana. It smells like rubber, like condoms. The driver is coughing badly. He bends forward in the convulsions.

The passenger steps out of the car and gives the wall of fog a lot of attention. I can see the driver laughing by himself. There's nothing stopping him. He's red-eyed, his face all twisted.
I'm telling Nina that this is it, and starts the car.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Sea of Change

We've just returned from a walk on Ocean Beach. The waves broke sluggishly towards the shore. It didn't blow much, but I suddenly felt a kind of menance. I could sense the two-faced personality of the sea. The way it changes.

Then I realized it's been awhile since we've done some serious crossings. On Ocean Beach I didn't really experience anything else than the human concepts of the sea. Thoughts and fear, and how it arises. The way it comes and goes in our minds.

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen