Monday, January 24, 2011

I am here and I can't get my head around that you are gone from this life. Today we are going to have a memorial service for you and I don't know if I can talk. There is so much in my heart but I have never been good with putting it into words. I didn't get the gift of words that you were blessed with. Family has always been most important to me and I always felt I was trying to hold us all together and not always successfully. I feel with the loss of you I have now lost two impostant siblings. We had some difficult times in our childhood but I have always loved you and respected the person you grew up to be. I admired your tenacity and ability to stand up for all those things that were so important to you. From a distance I saw what a wonderful husband and father you became. From the time I moved out of California (many many years ago) we have only had moments together. I cherish those moments. I feel like so many people know you better than I do because they have had the priviledge of spending time with you. But my heart has a connection to you that only brothers and sisters can share and that is where my heart is breaking right now. I don't want to reflect on missed opportunities because I can't bring time back but I do remember so many good things about you and I love you. It was hard to be together with the miles between us, jobs etc. But thank you for being my big brother, thank you for my sister Peggy who I love with all my heart as if she were always in our family and for my wonderful niece and nephew. Thank you for caring about this world and doing your part to improve it. I admire you and wish I emulated you more. I will miss you more than you know. You will always be in my heart.
Your sister,

Sunday, January 23, 2011


This doesn't feel real. I keep picking up my phone to call you and seak consolation. I can't believe I can never smell your sent. It is like a wonderful mixture of sweat and dirt. I will never get to hear your voice, I almost can't remeber it, I have to reach so far in to extract the warm way you talked. You could say one word and have a lifetime of passion behind it. To touch you again, you were so solid and there. I will miss the tiny chip in your bright smile. When I look in the mirror all I see is you. I hate that the day keeps going on. I don't want to brush my teeth, get dressed, eat..... I just want time to stop cause you were just here. I miss you. I am not ready for life without my daddy. I want you to hug me and tell me to stop worring, that death is a part of life. I cannot accept this yet. I feel like we were supposed to do so much more together. I wanted to hike the PCT with you. We still need to write down all your adventures so I can have them always. I still want to tell you how much you have given me by just being you. I can't imagine who I would be without you. I can't imagine my life without you. The world is lonely without the space you shined in. I know you didn't feel good dad. I am sorry. I wish I could make you feel better. I always thought loved healed everything, but I guess that wasn't enough. You are my magic. You are my imagination. Your are the reason I dream big. I have such intense compassion and emotions that I was given by you. I know that when the world hurt, you hurt. I am the same. It is so hard for me to show that cause it makes my days more difficult, but know that I understand the burden you carried. I share it with you. My heart is broken.... I love you so deeply and intensely. I have called so many people today, they all cried. They know, everyone knows what an extraordinary and unique man you are. I have been sitting with Dallas a lot, I see so much of you in him. We want to spread your ashes in a sacred place that will never be developed. If you have any ideas... I hated going to the mortuary, so removed and impersonal. If we had it our way we would have kept your body and had a sacred burning, deep in the forest to release your spirit among the trees and clear sky. I am so sorry I can't do that for you. Jimmy thinks we should go kidnap you from the place and become outlaws so we can honor you in the desert when you are free from the constraints of this greedy civilization. Just say the word and we will.

Much Love

Jim Otterstrom November 14th, 1945 - January 22nd, 2011

Thank you to all the beautiful and inspiring people that have shared your lives with my father Jim Otterstrom. I know this blog was his release, his comfort to know that there were like minded people living their lives all around him. You will all have my heart forever. Much love, Jamie Otterstrom

Sunday, January 09, 2011

For Gabrielle Giffords and all those whose lives were ruined on January 8th, by an act of hatred...

Click on image to enlarge
images from the public domain ~ collage by jim otterstrom 2010

I've been trying to come to terms with the contempt and hatred I feel seething through our society since I was a young boy.

I've also been consistently disappointed in my fellow human beings for as long as I can remember, and in myself for carrying within me seeds of that same toxicity which poisons hearts.

Is it any wonder we have so much insanity in a world where every innocence is promptly contaminated by the appalling gore of our collective misdeeds?
We are reaping the fruit of violence we have sewn into the fabric of history---even as we continue shouldering the burden of horrific destruction we still fund throughout the world, with our tax dollars, the sweat of our labor, and the lifeblood of humanity---all in disregard for every other species on earth.

Like the people in this collage, we are all victimized by hatred, fear, and ignorance, including our own.
Whatever we think of the individuals pictured here, they were all moved by the cruelty and injustice they saw around them to speak their truths, with compassion for others, and for that, each one was assassinated.

They made mistakes. After all they were only human, woven from the same imperfect cloth as the rest of us, but their common thread was compassion, and they died because of it.
We are capable of becoming so much more than we are, and each of the persons above gave us a glimpse into possibilities.

As long as I live, no matter how ugly the world becomes, I will hold love and compassion in my heart, and do my best to reach beyond the atmosphere of contempt, bitterness, fear, and hatred which permeates our times...
...even if it kills me.

~Peace & Love~
Jim Otterstrom
Gabrielle Giffords favorite quote, from her facebook page:
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, let us strive to finish the work we are in." ~ Abraham Lincoln

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Monday, January 03, 2011

1967 ~ The "Summer of Love"

Click on image to enlarge - © 2010 jim otterstrom

A digital self portrait I made from a photo taken in 1967.
The original photo probably belongs to Que? magazine, but the digital rendering is mine.

I was sitting on an old bridge over Topanga Creek playing my guitar one day in 1967 when a pretty young hippie girl came over to listen and hang out with me. A few moments later a car pulled up and some very busy people with cameras and tape recorders rudely interrupted our barely budding relationship. It turns out they were "journalists" for a Mexican magazine, I think it was called, 'Que?'. Anyhow, they were on assignment in California to do an article on the phenomena of the hippie culture. They took pictures of me and my new friend of a few minutes, asked a bunch of stupid questions, then sped off. A few months later, during '67s "Summer of Love", I was living in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco (of course) and while walking down Haight Street, saw my picture on the front of a Spanish language magazine at a newspaper stand. Even though I don't read Spanish I bought several copies (for my mother) and this self portrait is made from one of the pictures in that magazine. I liked the photo because of the nonplussed expression on my face as I scribbled my name and personal info onto a piece of scrap paper for the female reporter who had just interviewed us, using my guitar for a desk. Unfortunately, my lovely new friend seemed quite disillusioned that I would waste our precious time talking to people like that, and left right after they did.

The well aged photo is one of those crappy little halftone things that doesn't render well by scanning so I decided to lend it an authentic '60s feel by jazzing it up in Photoshop with some acidy looking psychedelic effects.

Oh, if you thought it was a photo of me writing songs, poetry, or philosophizing, I'm sorry to disappoint you. I was 21, and into Girls, Love, Nature/ Environmentalism, Peace, and Music, in that approximate order.

I have no regrets over my deliciously squandered youth, life is to be enjoyed, and I had the good fortune of being young in an amazingly uninhibited, free-spirited time & place.

Imagine the odds, out of the entirety of the vast cosmos, that your molecules, your atoms, would be evolutionarily woven into the living fabric of this beautiful planet Earth, of the stunning Milky Way, to eventually become part of a human, born and raised in sunny Southern California, just in time to spend your youth wandering the canyons and beaches of a rapidly fading paradise, amidst the 1960s no less, a time of unprecedented freedom of expression for our species.

In the end, we are but the stuff of stars, and I find peace in knowing the very essence of our being sings within the breath of time, while dancing toward the mystery of tomorrows.


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