New Mexico Tears

Just a short one this time, and no, there’s nothing wrong.

A year or so before we moved from Maryland to Taos, I was sitting next to a lady friend of ours in the audience at a concert at the college where my wife taught. She knew we were planning to move and asked me why, since everyone on the Eastern Shore tends to wonder (with good reason) why anyone would leave. I told her, “I love Maryland, but New Mexico makes me cry…”

And it was true: whether it involved movies, TV shows, or books about New Mexico, there was something about this place that had always got me choked up. I’ve even talked about this with my analyst. Something to do with a “landscape of the soul,” which would affect me whether I lived here or not, because of the unconscious associations, way down deep. This morning, after nearly 10 years living in New Mexico, it happened again.

It was a simple thing, reading Robert Redford’s short remarks about New Mexico in the Santa Fe newspaper. (He’s building a house and moving here himself.) All I had to do was read these words, and I was gone:

“The first thing you fall in love with is the light… and the power of the space, which has to do with how the land meets the sky.”

“The power of the space…” Lord, yes! The SPACE, that which makes you aware of the Whole. And why wouldn’t anyone be moved by being reminded of that? It’s stupendously spiritual, because it breaks you open and frees the heart.

Some of us are even fatally addicted, and I for one shall never recover.

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John Hamilton Farr lives at 7,000 feet in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore tells it, John is “a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” This JHFARR.COM site is the master writing archive. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page. For a complete list of all John’s writing, photography, NFTs, and social media links, please visit JHFARR.ART  

  • Amy May 27, 2009, 9:09 PM

    I came across this today and definitely can relate. Enjoyed reading this post. 10 years in the Tetons and many joyful tears for me. Nice to find your special place.
    “Some of us are even fatally addicted, and I for one shall never recover.” I would have to agree on this one!

  • Brian Gerard May 28, 2009, 7:04 AM

    I came to understand my feelings for Taos from the excerpt below.

    The moment I saw the brilliant proud morning shine high up over the desert of Santa Fe, something stood still in my soul, and I started to attend. There was a certain magnificence in the high-up day, a certain eagle-like royalty…….DH Lawrence

  • Sherry May 28, 2009, 7:36 AM

    Its funny, isn’t it, this draw we all have to New Mexico? I’ve vacationed there since I was a child and there is something romantic that keeps drawing me back. I tell myself its just a case of “the grass is always greener”, and I know I will never move too far away from our son wherever he ends up, but still, there is something. I guess I can prove it by the fact that almost daily I visit the webcam on the Plaza in Santa Fe just to check out the light, to envy the people strolling there or even to watch the traffic on the roads. Silly, I know. But when the sun is shining, reflecting off the sculpture outside the art museum, and the trees shade the sidewalk in the Plaza, I smile and then go on with my day a little happier. Have a great day, John.

  • Mary Vigdor May 28, 2009, 10:33 AM

    Hi John,

    I “dropped everything” and moved to Santa Fe in 1995, fulfilling a long held dream after having lived in Los Alamos for 10 mos. in 1973-74. My son Alex visited from Indiana at Thanksgiving 1995 and made a conscious effort to resist the pull so he wouldn’t go crazy and follow me. I moved back to my native Wisconsin in 2003 after a) my job ended in Santa Fe and b) my apt. complex near the Plaza was sold to create “El Corazon de Santa Fe.” Two months later son Alex met a lovely young lady at a party in Brooklyn. She was from Santa Fe and 3 years later (2007) they were married at la Casa Benavides in Taos. Life takes on a magical quality when one is in love with New Mexico, I think. Best wishes to you and your lovely wife, Mary Vigdor (Milwaukee, WI)

  • KarenK May 28, 2009, 11:13 AM

    I share your obsession, Sherry — I, too, visit the Santa Fe webcam and envy the people who are there! I grew up in the area and hope someday to return. It’s like there is a primal piece of me waiting to say, “Ah. At last I’m home!”

  • Sherry May 28, 2009, 12:31 PM

    Here’s the link to the webcam – its sunny and beautiful there today. Actually its sunny and beautiful HERE today.


  • Steve Ingham May 28, 2009, 3:27 PM

    John….Surely you are NOT looking for a CURE are you? Didn’t think so, and for the others who look at the Taos Plaza web cam – as do I daily, Don’t forget the Taos Mountain webcam…. AND…even the other cam from up near Valdez looking west towards the Gorge….
    I check ALL three constantly PLUS John’s Remarkable FOTOS!!

  • JHF May 29, 2009, 8:16 AM

    These are all wonderful comments, thank you. I would have replied individually to every one, but I’ve been in a real crunch over the last few days and just couldn’t give them the attention they deserve.

    More things like this coming, however, so please stay tuned!

  • Kile May 29, 2009, 11:38 AM

    Ahh, a group of people who understand the magic of the “Land of Enchantment.” It really can’t be fully described, only experienced, which is why I check your Fotofeed daily. I can literally close my eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on my bones, and hear the silence of wide open spaces.

    Why did I ever leave? It is a question that will haunt me for the rest of my life…

  • David in Maine May 29, 2009, 10:44 PM

    as i grow older i have discovered that while we are focusing on the grandeur of nature, we rediscover the personification of our long ago youth, when we stood on tiptoes looking beyond the crest of the hill to stare into the face of adventure with wide open eyes.

    i hope to someday retire in the high desert and look upon the land with wide open eyes. i feel the force of high desert color, the light, and the night sky to be the only source of entertainment i’ll need after retirement…

    thanks for sharing the landscape of your soul.

  • JHF May 29, 2009, 11:29 PM

    David, you sound like you’ll fit right in. 🙂

    Kile, it’s still here. We can’t be everywhere at once! Sometimes I don’t know why I left MD, except I do, really: I couldn’t have done anything else at the time, given who I was. There are no mistakes. It all goes ’round and ’round and never ends.

  • Bryan Pohl June 24, 2009, 6:41 AM

    I just stumbled across this, and I can’t even express how much I agree. I was born in New Mexico, Los Lunas to be exact, but moved away with my family when I was just a little kid. Since then, I’ve lived in Virginia and Indiana. Both are fine places in their own respect; but neither one makes me feel the way New Mexico does. Sadly, my father passed away in 2007, and I returned to Albuquerque for the first time in many, many years. Just sitting on the plane, I couldn’t help but cry at the landscape that was below my feet. I had forgotten about the way the Sandia Mountians tower over the city, and the way you can see for miles and miles, and the soulful silence that seems to envelop the area as your eyes can’t help but wander to where the land meets the sky. It truly is a majestic place that I love with all of my heart. I couldn’t think of a better term than “landscape of the soul”.

  • JHF June 24, 2009, 8:39 AM

    Thank you very much for stopping by, Bryan. I do believe you’ve expressed it better than I have, and I hope you’re able to come back soon.

  • Cindi August 1, 2009, 8:38 AM

    Love the blog, Mr. Farr. I expect to visit frequently now that my husband has turned me on to it.

    We arrived in Silver City NM from the western shore of the Virginia Chesapeake Bay in May 2009, after three years of preparation. I’ve been gone from the mountain west for nearly 40 years and I wasn’t truly comfortable for a single minute of my absence. I’m thrilled to be home and in the company, at last, of kindred spirits.

  • JHF August 1, 2009, 8:41 AM

    Hi Cindi!

    I guess you know we used to live in Kent County, on the upper Eastern Shore. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope everything goes well for you in Silver City! I’ve only been down there a couple of times and would like to see it again.

  • Bobbi Carr August 14, 2009, 3:43 PM

    Hi John,
    Good luck in the annual Top 10 Blogs for Writers Contest! As for NM, I moved back east 22 years ago, but Santa Fe and Santa Feans have colored my heart, soul, and imagination forever.

  • Bill Barker August 25, 2009, 3:23 AM

    So John, you (and FarrFeed) seem to represent the collecting point of so many of us displaced/misplaced souls that seem to get our vicarious “Land of Enchantment” fixes from you and your incredible photos. One wonders how many of us who were once there have the undeniable, unrelenting, visceral need/desire to return. I have been gone for 22 years and I think of coming home on a daily basis. Perhaps we should all plan a reunion for next year to meet up with our kindred spirits to try and figure out why The Land of Enchantment has such a hold on us. As each of our stories are unique there is also the common thread of the unrelenting desire to return. At minimum, we could gather round the sacred Pinon fire and consume the best Mexican food on the planet while imbibing in some bottomless margaritas, our bodies warmed by the Pinion fire against the chill of the pristine evening air. I’m in!

  • JHF August 25, 2009, 8:34 AM

    Well, if you put it that way… 🙂

  • Kristy August 27, 2009, 7:05 PM

    Well then I must belong to New Mexico, because this post made me cry. In four short weeks I’m moving to your beloved state from Minnesota. I feel like NM is a part of me, yet I’ve never lived there. More than “home”, it feels like coming face to face with my own soul. Thank you for this post.

  • JHF August 27, 2009, 10:31 PM

    Wow, Kristy. You’re very welcome, and thank you for sharing that. What a great comment.

  • Allison McCabe September 2, 2010, 4:10 PM

    I know this is random but I had a cat named clementine and some one picked her up… about three years ago. She had a splotch of black on her face, slightly over her nose and was a long haired calico. She has a design on her back that looks like a smiley face… this picture looks just like her. please respond. I have pics to prove it, please let me know. Bless~Allison M

  • Allison McCabe September 2, 2010, 4:16 PM

    also… I found this pic by googling Taos New Mexico.

    I was hoping she found a good home.
    Please respond, she was my baby.

    • JHF September 2, 2010, 4:28 PM

      Hi, Allison! I guess you mean today’s FotoFeed image at the top of the page today (9/2/2010). If you go here, you can see 15 more pictures of Callie the Wonder Cat.

      We’ve had her for about four years, I think. Before that she sort of lived with our next-door neighbors, who didn’t really do anything but put food out once in a while. She lived outdoors and slept in an old shed. The neighbors were from San Luis and said she was part of a litter from there…

  • Chris July 10, 2011, 10:44 PM

    Hello as I read everyones stories I come to great relief in knowing that I am not crazy. I too have a great love and longing for NM which I cannot explain. From the very first time back in 2004 that I have come to Albuquerque till now present moment there is something about NM that has captivated my soul. I currently reside in San Francisco, CA but would go back to NM in a heartbeat if my situation was different. I have looked for many different places to call home but after living in NM for 5 years off and on, it truly is the 1 place that my soul yurns and calls for everyday. There is not 1 day that passes that I don’t look at a picture of NM. As a matter of fact I have the Sandia Mtns as my wallpaper on my blackberry. Anyway I’m glad to know that its not only me that feels this way, and I wish everyone the best and hopefully we can all return to the place our soul calls home 1 day.

    • JHF September 26, 2011, 9:26 AM

      Hi Chris! Sorry I didn’t catch your comment earlier. We were on the road taking care of family business in Tucson.

      No, you’re not crazy, and you’re not the only one. It just has that effect on some of us. New Mexico is still here, and I’m sure you’ll find your way back again.

  • Brian E September 26, 2011, 6:18 AM

    Reading through these comments I’m nodding my head, yes, yes, and yes. I feel a bit alienated here in New England even though I’ve lived here most of my life. In the past I even convinced myself that I’d probably never live away from the ocean. That notion would be negated after visting New Mexico. After a bit of a tumultuous journey these past few years leading towards a path of awakening and spirituality I decided it’s time to start a new chapter in life. I first laid eyes on the big cobalt blue skies and endless horizons of New Mexico last spring and it instantly spoke to me. I am not among kindred spirits back east as I don’t think they really have a grasp on the depth of the soul and its connection to what exists in the Land of Enchantment. I haven’t been able to get my mind off of New Mexico since I left. It’s become almost an unhealthy obsession perceived by others. For me it’s an urgency calling me and drawing me back like gravity. I’ll be moving there soon. Saving every last dime, nickel, and penny I have to get there. No place has ever stirred up my soul like New Mexico has. I am smitten for it. Physically I am not there yet but spiritually I’m already there.

    • JHF September 26, 2011, 9:23 AM

      Wow, Brian E, you’ve got it bad! 🙂 Beautifully expressed though, I must say.

      You must have found this post in the Best o’ the Blog list. Much of what you say applies to me. I’d lived for almost 30 years on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, a very beautiful place in itself, but I couldn’t get over NM either after visiting a few times. I also felt like my friends didn’t get it, and no one, but no one talked about “spirituality” in MD. Goose hunting, yes…

      You should know, however, that it’s been very hard for my wife and me, mostly financially. We both also miss the water very badly at times. I hope you have a way of making a living that you can bring with you, or that you at least already have some contacts here. But when all is said and done, if you have to come, you’ll come, and things will unfold from there.

      Two years before we moved, we were on a trip through Taos. We stopped at the Wild Rivers Area on the Rio Grande north of Questa—REALLY way out there—and I instantly felt I was home. I just stood there looking at the wilderness and the mountains with tears running down my face. Whether this was a sign I had to move here or that I was making a connection to something deep inside that didn’t require blowing up my old life, I still don’t know, but I’m here. In my case, the old life needed blowing up, anyway.

      Best of luck, and via con Dios.



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