Thursday, May 4, 2017

So, Christina has headed back to the States for a few days to help our good friend Shay put the Hand of Man into a shipping container for transport to Maker Faire Berlin. Interestingly enough, even though I am not there, just talking to her on the phone and listening to her first impressions about being back in the States has brought a few things into focus about why we are really here, and what we are trying to do. Her impressions of being in New Mexico go something along the lines of... It's big, it's beautiful, and we have really built a little piece of paradise out there on the mesa.

We have tried so hard here in Spain to find a decent place to do some work, a metal shop, and have consistently come up short. It would be a long story to detail how and why these efforts have failed, but suffice to say that we have not seen a single decent working shop, and certainly not one that we could get involved with. In contrast, Christina steps into our shop in Taos, and her first thought is… Oh my god what an amazing shop we have - we could build anything here. It's hard not to feel a little discouraged about how difficult it is here sometimes. But one thing we need to remember is that our lives in New Mexico, right now, are the product of over a decade of work trying to perfect the lifestyle that we want. And here… We are starting from scratch. So it brings into clearer relief the question - why exactly are we here? What are we doing? The truth is that we are trying to sew the roots of a situation, a long-term situation where we can have feet in both worlds… one foot on each continent. We believe that we will be better served in the long run, and that Kodiak will be better served, if we have choices. 

 For Instance, if we take a snapshot of the world today, it's not hard to see that the health care situation in Spain is vastly superior to that in the states. We pay about €160 per month for the whole family to have comprehensive health care, with no (non-dental) copayments, and with dental coverage. And that is for a private option. State-run healthcare is of course free, once you qualify for it. I was paying twice that in the States just for myself, with copays, and no dental. (Ironically, I have partially written this post while at the dentist, where I got a filling done for a copay of €27. Every time you step into a dentist office in Taos it costs $400!) The situation here is also better with regard to income inequality, one of the main reasons that the USA is slowly going down the tubes. It's also better here in terms of political consciousness; I think the lessons of WWII and fascism are closer to the surface here and would be less easily repeated, while the US seems quite willing to go down the road of less freedom in exchange for... what, exactly? Security? Prosperity? It's not really clear to me. (Let's hope, of course, that I'm right about this... memory is short, and France might be about to vote in Marine Le Pen... so this might just be naive and wishful thinking on my part)

On the other hand, the USA has so much going for it, such as great people, wide open space, a spirit of innovation and resourcefulness, and of course our little paradise on the mesa. Personally I think Trump is a blip on the time-scape, and the hard left-leaning reaction to him that is sure to come might just end up actually making America great again in a few years.

But the point is... no one knows what the future holds. So our long term vision is to create a life where we have choices, and where Kodiak has choices.

It's hard to see that, sometimes, and hard to remember it. For me, even the thought of Christina visiting the mesa and glimpsing the life we built there brings into sharper relief the challenges we face here... I can only imagine what it feels like for her to actually be there. From the beginning I said I would be pretty happy here if I could have a workshop and a motorcycle. I have neither. Christina misses outdoor space, a workshop, and the dogs. We have none of that. Kodiak misses his friends, the ease of English, the space of Taos. In a way it's particularly tough to see Kodiak struggle, because as a parent you want nothing more than the best for your kid. It's hard sometimes, in the day to day struggles, to remember that this crazy experiment is actually all about giving him the best... it's just a "best" that is still a few years away, and hard to see right now. 

 A note on motorcycles and why I miss them: not only is riding a motorcycle one of the things I enjoy most in life (and have consistently done since age 16, back in San Francisco), but... if I had to name one thing that I've learned in the last few years, a NEW skill, that I've watched myself get better at, watched myself noticeably improve at... it would be off-road motorcycling. Although I’ve been riding for 2/3 of my life now, off-road is new. 4 years ago I was a novice, and now I’m actually pretty good. It is a rewarding feeling to pick up a new skill, and I don’t want to lose it. Figure sculpting would be in second place, I suppose, in the “new skill sweepstakes,” but I haven’t been doing it long enough to see the same degree of change. So I fantasize regularly about the Husqvarna 701, the KTM 690R, and the KTM 500 EX-C 6 Days. Ooh... that 6 Days. Maybe one day… 

The truth is that, for me, its psychologically easier not to think about our life in Taos all that much while I am here. I find it easier to try to really keep myself in the present, to try to experience the things that this place has to offer as fully as I can. Ultimately, that's the biggest reason I wanted to come here. To remember that the world is bigger than 6 acres of paradise on the mesa. And really, having the most amazing workshop in the world isn't much good if you can't figure out what to do in it. Barcelona is helping me figure that out again.

The most likely scenario now is that we will be here for another 12 months. It's really not that long. With every day that passes by it feels more and more clear that what we owe to ourselves, what we owe to Kodiak, is to give this our all. We must put everything we have into making this experience everything it could be, and at the end of it we will see where the chips fall. Isn't that how you are supposed to live every day, no matter where you are?


  1. Sending you love and strength in these moments as you keep your eyes on the larger picture. Thank you for sharing. Miss you guys of course, but glad you are "sewing roots"!

  2. Giving your child options and a worldly perspective is a HUGE gift. No doubt he'll appreciate it, probably sooner rather than later. Thanks for documenting this interesting experiment you are undertaking.