Friday, June 11, 2010

John Raux, The Sojourner

I cherish Sunday afternoon naps. That is why I felt terrible interrupting John Raux’s Sunday afternoon nap when I called him on his cell phone.
Of all the ways to be startled into consciousness from a slumbering bliss, a cell phone ring has got to be one of the worst. John didn’t mind. He was polite and cheerful as usual. “I was sleeping on the side of the road,” he said to me laughing. Evidently he felt tired, saw an inviting patch of grass, and that was that. This is one of the many reasons I love John. He does things that many people only ever talk about or think about, but never actually do. He loves life and revels in it, smiling the whole way through.

One of the things John has done that other people only dream about (besides napping on the side of the road) is taking a life altering journey through the mountains, on foot.  In the summer of 2007, from May to the beginning of October, John was not sitting in an office cubicle staring at a computer screen everyday, under fluorescent lighting. No, he was breathing in the fresh mountain air of the Sierra Nevada, feeling the warmth of the sun, and sleeping under the starry sky of the wild. John hiked most of the Pacific Crest Trail and was stopped just 50 miles short of the Canadian border by a snow blizzard. “I didn’t actually think I was going to die, but I was certainly uncomfortable,” John said as he recounted his experience to me.

Perhaps the strangest part of his journey was the flight he took from Seattle to Los Angeles after being snowed out of the remainder of his hike. “I looked out the window of the plane and realized we were flying over exactly the same route I had just hiked. I could look down and see where I had been. What took me more than five months to hike on foot took about three hours by plane. It gave me a really strange sense of time. It felt very surreal.”

John has spent the months since he got back processing his experiences through his art. “My paintings are not merely abstract art that each person can see something different in; like looking at clouds. They are an actual map of my inner processes; the lines and forms of my thoughts and feelings.” His processing has produced a series of paintings and poetry. He calls the series “Meandering Conclusions.”

Since the writing of this article, John as traveled to Nepal and back.  Watch his website here for updates on new artwork.

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