On the Way to WorkRichard Soberpaintings

Three Takes

One spends a good deal of one’s life as if they had just emerged from an ophthalmologist’s office with dilated eyes. One slowly adjusts to the light. What are blurred and blinding edge gradually into focus. There is always more innocence to lose. We are experts in seeing things which confirm our preconceptions. We are amateurs in seeing a life which modifies or transforms our thinking. It takes a long time to find out where you are and who you are and who you are with in a world of moral dwarves who have no use for their own vision or yours. Landscapes are beautiful, but remember, look with new eyes, though these eyes find more than a season of beauty between bewitching hills.


Down along the low road some people say the wind is the future whispering its time in our ears, some suggest the wind is the community of the dead brushing our hair. Others believe the wind is a breath of fresh air accompanying the river to the sea. Unnameable skies conjure spooky winds, shards of invisible glass, solar-powered ghosts, and men living out their bad-boy dreams at the expense of others. How many paths, better or not, I could have taken, but here I stand still along the river, taking my leave of absence, wind at my back or in my face, the path at least mine, down along the low road.


Railroad Avenue in Las Vegas, New Mexico has the feel of a thousand other American streets whose pavements and architecture spell palpable loneliness. The life and commerce that occurred there have an afterglow that lingers, a homesickness with no forwarding address. In the morning you are an idealist dreamer. By nightfall you are an eccentric cynic prowling the neighborhood, disappointed, inside a song no one hears. Thieves in suits made off with the keys to the castle and the robbed are promised cheap drugs and a calendar full of waiting for nothing. This landscape passes through us. Railroad Avenue bathed in morning light is evicted from human consciousness, on its path to extinction. But, I drive past this spooked paradise in varying states of deterioration stunned by the beauty of the neglected, the decrepit, and the seedy. I looked and saw no murderers, robbers, thieves, gamblers, gunmen, swindlers, vagrants, or tramps. The historic preservationists will return in an hour. The Gallinas River looks for water. Black winds blowing up from Tecolote and Romeroville lean into the backs of men without bank accounts. Only fools and newcomers try to predict the weather.