First of all, I would like to wish for you all: A very Happy New Year!!!!
On the 3Th of this January I celebrated my 49 birthday, well celebrated…more wend trough. No party or visitors, just laying on the sofa watching TV, just like I have been doing for the last months now! And, as my surgeon told me, I have to lay and wait at least another 6 weeks and hope and pray that things will get any better during that time. He, like me, is very surprised and disappointed that my surgery is goosing me so much more trouble and pain, instead of relieving or healing the problems! So you can imagine that there was not much reason for celebrating for me. That was particularity sad because this birthday also marked my 20Th anniversary in Bonsai! Exactly 20 years ago my wife bought me a little Ulmus for my Birthday that started my adventures in Bonsai! This wonderful gift turned out to be a big turning point in my life and since then, Bonsai has been the main driving force in my life! Today, 20 years later, I sadly have to admit that I feel I reached another big turning point in my life! I have been suffering from lower back pains and discomfort for more than a decade now, but was always able to walk, work or train it off. But that became harder and harder to do. The amount of painkillers I had to swallow during the last couple of years, just to get trough the day, had grown way out of hand, so this back operation was my big change to carry on living in a more doable way, with out having to be doped up most of the time. My lower back problems have over the last 5 to 6 years slowly forced me to give up weightlifting and other sports that I had been doing most of my adult live, this was not only a blow to my system, but it also left me very depressed. My night job and second love, being a D.J in clubs, kept me happy and in shape for a few years. So I was able to more or less get to grips with the fact that serious sports were a thing of the past. And off course, in the day time and even while I was a sleep, there always was Bonsai! But those long club night’s started to slowly take there toll on my body as well and playing music from 10 in the evening until 6 in the morning started to be a real struggle and less enjoyable. So eventually, because of the worsening back problems, I had to let go off my second big love. My DJing night were over! So at that point in time Bonsai became my only way to escape, to express my self and to relax. But also something to pursuit and accomplish. Full Hearted and stubborn, as with every thing I do! And even this goal has become harder and harder to achieve! I havend been able to go out and collect for 4 years now, and beside missing out on all the traveling fun and walking trough the wonderful mountain alps and the adventure of the yamadori search, this also means 4 years of no new material for me to work on. And that is a major setback to a Bonsai artist like me, that only likes to work on raw material that preferably is collected by himself. If you take in account that were I live, it takes at least 8 to 10 years to more or less finish a reasonable Bonsai, you can understand that every year with out a newly started projects is a big loss. Remember, I only make 2 or 3 serious pre bonsai in a year, there is no mass production in my work, so to built up a collection of more or less finished bonsai will take a long long time! No material also means, that I am stuck with a million idea and no real material to work them out on. Like I once before sad: bonsai, as a medium, is pretty useless as a way for instance release of ones creativity. I have been lucky enough that 2 years ago I was invited to work in the U.S.A., that was my last real bonsai adventure and it took me weeks to recover from it. Finally last year moving around and even normal light bonsai work become almost undo able for me, so I had to cancel or say no to most of the real fun things that I had worked for for so long. Among them were a few collecting invitations and possible workshops and demo’s in America, Australia, U.K, Denmark and other countries. And my plains of finally starting workshop from my own garden had to be shifted to the future. In Jan 2009 I found a great specialist in Belgium, who after several long trips up and down to Belgium, told me that my problems might be solved with a new kind of operation that the preformed there. I was over the moon! Only to find out that my insurance company would not pay for this kind of “new” operation techniques! Even with the help of several good doctors behind me, I was not able to change their mind into my favour. So the rest of 2009 was spent visiting several hospitals in Holland to find a other solution to my back problems. It was my wife, who discovered on the web, a clinic in Nijmegen (Holland) that preformed the same kind of operating technique as the once in Belgium had planed for me. But in this case, the found a way so my insurance would pay for it. So I finally ended up with this specialist that in September preformed this pretty new way of surgery on my lower back. If all would have gone well, I would have been more or less pain free in a mount or so, if not, like in my case, they just dont know! So instead of pain free, my problems have multiplied and that is hard to swallow! If in the next 6 weeks my situation those not improve, they might even have to take those two implants out off my back again! And than I have to hope and pray that my lower back falls in to its old place again! If not? Who knows? So now I stand before the difficult task of adjusting my bonsai goals and ambitions to this new situation. How that will end, I dont know yet?! But I lost to much time already and there is not much hope on catching up soon, so I think that to avoid any more disappointments, I have to be realistic about it! I will miss working with other enthusiast around the world, but I will always be doing bonsai, but on a smaller scale. And luckily there still is the pleasure of having to work and finish a lot of my present trees into good Bonsai. I still want to make a point, dont I? 🙂 But I guess, that like with my trees, I will have to make my goals a lot smaller. We will see! 🙂
So for my birthday, I bought my self a nice Nikon camera and 2 extra lenses! I love to walk trough nature to discover places of beauty to capture on film. And because these pictures give me instant results, they are, for now, a brilliant solution to still my creativity hunger! The picture below is one of the first pictures I made with my new camera! It is taken a five minute walk away from my home on a snow covered beach!
After a 30 years break from it, I even bought all the stuff to start to make pencil drawings again. But up to now, I have not been able to actually start any drawing! I cant be bothered to do much of anything lately, but that will change as soon as I have made one or two! I still have that lovely habit of trying to improve my self . 🙂
So my dear bonsai friends, it all looks a bit gloomy for now and all I can do is wait for what the future has in store for me. I will keep you informed, thanks for all your well wishes and for listening!