So Many Lives To Live

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
—Oscar Wilde


So many lives inside of me, competing for attention, wanting to be the one at the forefront.

I’m not talking about the ones that nearly came to be, those roads almost taken at the various crossroads of my life – I’m talking about the yearnings and desires that were never realized; I’m talking about the ideas and dreams formed in childhood. Over the years there have been so many things I’ve wanted to do and be that have no hope of coexisting.

Don’t get me wrong, I like where I am.

Sitting here with my strong morning coffee, surrounded by notebooks and sheets of paper filled with works in progress and ideas, listening to angry outlaw country (yes, you read that correctly – I’m a man of quite eclectic, eccentric taste) I’m thankful. Thankful for having the opportunity to live my life the way I do and having the luxury to so freely choose how I spend my time. But choice isn’t always easy. I’ve had a weird life, with many twists and turns, though always anchored to the same place. Several opportunities for significant change have presented themselves and then passed by, leaving me behind in the dust, wondering where to go next.

Once more, I find myself at the crossroads.

I’ve been here time and time again during my life, pausing to consider which path to take next – where to go and what to do – thinking maybe this time I’ll stick around, wait for that black man and see what he has to offer. My soul has always been here, poised before the next step and waiting for the opportune moment. My heart has always been somewhere else, yearning for what I don’t have. My body stands torn between the two, eternally at unrest, never lingering, never choosing just one path.

It’s been years since I took this long waiting.

I probably already know where I need to go now – I’ve been working toward this for my entire life, after all. There’s just so many alternatives, and so many footpaths that lead in the same general direction. In choosing one, I forsake all the others. At least for the immediate future. I could go anywhere, with anyone, and still do what I want to do. The where, how and who of it all doesn’t really matter to my dreams. My opinions are wide open and I could choose to live almost any life I can imagine. Many of them are so very tempting, would realize parts of myself that have been starving for years. It’s not easy, suppressing all those parts of yourself, leaving all those alternate lives unlived. There are so many lives for me to live, yet I can only choose one.

Maybe that’s why I need to write.

Coffee and Heartbreak

“Believe me when I tell you: Life will not break your heart, it’ll crush it.”
―Henry Rollins

Photo by DannieThings end, and there is preciously little we can do to prevent it.

Once again I find myself at the end of something; in a place of transition. Changes are happening at the coffee shop I’ve frequented for the past 8-9 years. The new manager is making stupid decisions, relocating and firing some of the best, most hard working people on such tenuous grounds that it seems impossible to not see it as a personal vendetta.

One of the people who has to go happens to be one of my best friends, and her case in particular has been handled with such sloppiness that I simply cannot ignore it. Now, I have a choice to make. Do I continue to give the coffee shop my – not insignificant – business, or do I find another way to get my caffeine fix? I’m leaning toward the latter.

For one, having already lost four of my favorite baristas and now losing two more, frequenting the establishment won’t be as joyful as it once was. Also, keeping up a happy face to the manager is not going to happen – my sense of loyalty forbids me – and as a regular it really helps if you get along with the proprietor. But it’s not an easy choice to make.

Coffee shops hold a very special place in modern life.

For the creative of us, they have become nearly religion – I know many people who work out of them, balancing privacy and social life, income and expense, familiarity and change of scenery. They are so much more than a place to go buy coffee – they are a place for dates, pit stops during busy days, breaks and relaxations, study and work. They are life and romance and friendship.

Back when coffee first reached Europe, men would go to coffee shops to discuss politics and business and philosophy. In the 19th century, they increasingly became the gathering place for local artists and writers – along with pubs and cafés that served absinth, of course. Many artists and thinkers have turned to coffee as their drug of choice over the centuries – Voltaire and Balzac are reported to have imbibed over 50 cups a day, at their worst (or their best, maybe), and both Bach and Beethoven were big coffee drinkers.

This particular coffee shop has really been my home away from home for the past seven years. I’ve seen seven managers and scores of baristas come and go; I’ve made several friends and many more acquaintances; I’m known by staff and regulars alike and I have never once been mistreated. Even though the recent rebuilding took away part of it’s charm, and even though stricter policy from the main office and the new management has further dampened the atmosphere, it is still part of me. I was there first.

At a modest count, I’ve spent over 4,000 hours at that café – talking, writing, drawing, laughing, crying, meeting new people and old friends. I’ve given it more business than I care to admit, but it and its staff have given me so much in return. I know its workings in and out and I’ve even helped out with things on occasion. This current turn of events make me angry, sad, upset and even hurt.

Regardless of where I go now, it will be with a heavy heart.

I do not particularly like change – at least not when it is forced upon me. However, I do realize that it is a necessary part of life – without change there will be no growth, no progress. And we need progress, all of us. And come to think of it…

How much progress in this world has not been fueled by coffee?

Stock photo by Dannie

The End of Summer

”If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
—Russian Proverb


Summer is drawing to a close.

The past three months have been something of a roller coaster ride for me, Dear Reader. At the start of summer I had one of my dearest friends living with me, playing havoc with my previous lazy lack of routine and minding my own, giving me time and structure enough to become more active here on my blog and other social media. I took the opportunity to finish some short stories, create some art, humbly almost-not-promoting myself and my online presence. Despite injury, battling inner demons and failing to maintain the routine my lodger so graciously bestowed upon me, I have managed to go from two blog posts a week to a loosely upheld goal of five.

During the past month alone my readers here have doubled, my followers on twitter tripled, and I’ve made new friends, acquaintances and contacts. My list of projects and assignments have grown and I’m sending out work for consideration on a more frequent basis. I now have something resembling a viable plan – perhaps a tad too ambitious since there’s at least one goal I fail to uphold each week, but it is better to aim higher than we can reach. How else will we grow tall enough to get where we want to be?

But, Dear Reader, I must apologize: I only managed to hold on to my promised weekly routine for exactly…one week. There will be no sketch of the week this week. The truth is I have spent very little time at home, focusing on friends and social activities instead of creative work. It was sorely needed after my previous week of near-isolation. Consequently, I do not have much more to say right now, but I hope to be more entertaining next week!

Lastly, a heartfelt welcome to my new readers – and of course a big thank you to those who return week after week to follow my aimless ramblings with the hope of seeing something worthwhile…


“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”


On this 4th of July in the year of Our Lord 2014 I celebrate my own Independence Day.

Once again my home is entirely my own (for good and bad) and I am Master of my own time (also for good and bad). Given the new routines imposed upon me by sharing my home with a lodger – one of my best friends, actually – I think I have a better chance than ever of carving out a proper use of my time. I know, Dear Reader – I said ‘better’; which is not necessarily the same as ‘good’. It will still take effort and discipline to avoid falling back into my old ways, but my plan is to seize this opportunity and step up to the challenge.

I visited my favorite tree today – a massive horse-chestnut. It sits in the corner of a graveyard here in central Stockholm, thick long branches reaching high into the sky, massive roots digging deep into the earth among the graves. It has borne witness to many of the twists and turns in my life and its shade is a place of meditation and reflection for me. I can spend hours reclined on the bench beneath it, just staring up into the crown, mulling things over; gathering strength. I like to imagine that it carries the essence of those buried beneath it, its branches, leaves and flowers a noble extension of their lives. I love trees. There are few living things on this earth than can aspire to the longevity, usefulness and quiet powerful grace of a tree. So many species of tree stand for centuries – even millennia – while us humans mill about beneath them. In comparison, we are mere day-flies.

From the viewpoint of a massive oak, our lives are short and meaningless. Any change we can bring about in our brief existence passes in the shedding of a leaf. Then again, nothing ever really changes anyway, only the way we look at things. To change anything significant in our lives we must change our view of the world first. Being witness to (and part of) the beginning of independence in the life of another is both inspiring and sobering. If we can do it in our early twenties, why not later in life as well? We can all take those first steps toward something new and different that gives our lives direction and a fresh start. All it takes is the courage to build momentum and make that leap. Sure, we might fall – but maybe, just maybe, we will fly…


Life and Death

”If we are not careful, we end up asking what life tasted like.”
—Jonathan Carroll

How would you live your life if you found out that you were going to die?

This question has kept confronting me in various ways the past few years, but life has had a tendency to interrupt and shift my thoughts to more trivial, short term problems. This week, the question was posed to me again, and I started to really think. I think I have an idea now of how I would want to live if my days were numbered – and I’m lucky enough to live a life that is already part-way there. I would want to spend more time creating tings – paint, write, sculpt, design, draw – and spend time with those people I love who make my days happier. I’d want to read more and learn more and possibly travel. Travel always comes up as a thing that people want to do before it is too late, but when I really thought about it I realized that it isn’t really true for me. I’d love to travel to meet friends, but traveling to see sights and experience other cultures isn’t high on my list. The wonders of literature and modern technology give me the key points and knowledge that previously required extensive travel, the internet lets you see the wonders (albeit a poor version of experiencing them first hand), and in the end: no matter where you go there you are. It’d be nice, yes – but loved ones, art and study take precedence.

But what would you do – how would you live if you were nearing the end of your life? Would you stay at your current job, working the same hours; would you stay with your current partner; would you do the same things in your spare time? What would you want to do more of and what would you want to experience before it is too late? What dreams and longing would you want to fulfill?

Think about it for awhile. What is it that matters most to you and how would that affect the way you live if you knew you were going to lose those things? Have you got an idea?

Now, I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you: you are going to die.

Slowly or quickly, silently or in pain, with a bang or with a whimper – the details are irrelevant. Every breath leaves you one less to your last. It is an inevitable, irrefutable fact. We are all going to die, so why do we put off that which we really want to do other things? Why compromise with the precious years we have left just because we do not know how numerous they are?

Start living like you were dying because – really – you are.


  • Read – Cloud Atlas; David Mitchell
  • Watch – The Fountain; Darren Aronofsky
  • Listen – Pull Me Under; Dream Theater

Thyme and Tyde…

“The key question to keep asking is, are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have. ”
―Randy Pausch


This past week has been busy.

I’ve finished, polished and submitted a new short story – I’m not truly happy with how it turned out, but with a limited time frame for submission and no clear vision of how to change it I had to make a decision: submit as it was, or keep it and rewrite later. It was an easy choice. Since I will never ever be truly happy with anything I do, it was better to send it out and let it try it’s wings now. I can always patch it up later if it crashes (or give it a proper burial, if need be – we will see).

I got a chance to meet one of my favorite writers and other good friends, discussing work and possible collaborations, receiving hints on exciting things to come, sharing stories and just generally catching up. Like always, it was a good day and an inspiring day – I left with a few new seeds germinating in my mind and a signed copy of a new book (perhaps not of the highest literary quality, but one I have been looking forward to regardless to satisfy my inner adventure-seeking child).

Lastly, I have welcomed a dear friend into my home for an as of yet unspecified period of time. Despite sharing a fairly small apartment and having different schedules it has been entirely pleasant. The arrangement has raised a number of eyebrows and furrowed a few brows, but I am confident that this will work quite well. As an added bonus I have received honest, valuable critique on my work and (perhaps paradoxically) more time to write. If nothing else, I’m hoping to come away from this experience with the ability to use my time more efficiently.

This trio of events have all contributed to my next project – telling a story that is very dear to my heart. This short story will likely be the most emotional, cathartic thing I’ve ever written, but I need to get it out. As of today, I have done most of the necessary research and the first group of words have been committed to page. It feels good, but at the same time I’ve been forced to think back on my life and contemplate the man I’ve been and the man I have yet to become.

These thoughts are, of course, not all roses and sunshine: there’s plenty of darkness and thorns in there. Have you ever tried navigating a thicket of thorns in darkness? It’s not entirely pleasant experience, let me tell you. Revisiting some of those moments have made me think about the present and what I can do to better myself. I may have a few regrets about how I have spent my time thus far, but one of the beauties of time is that you can never spend more than you have. Time and tide waits for no man, and so every hour you start on is fresh and unspent; a blank page to be filled.

How are you going to fill the next page you are given?