Archive for the 'Philosophical Musing' Category

Light

I love the way the light of the sun plays off the Hudson, plays on my shoulders, saturates those who play on its shores. The smell of the river, the sound of bikes whizzing by, the sight of something open, something free. Potential exists in the gaze forward across the open space, at the space between the here and the there. Chaos is restrained—unnoticed, insignificant—behind me.

I love that as the sun sets behind the Hudson, the people along it arise. The sun slowly descends, the people finally emerge. From stifling offices or high-rise apartments or subway trains or ivory towers. To move. To breathe.

Those green patches along the water are vision to me. They are healing. They are solace. They are bathed in light that warms my head, dries my tears, inspires my hope, and bears my doubt, as the light of the sun plays off the Hudson.

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My Heart Cries Out for Art

Late at night my heart cries out for art.

During the day? I’m not sure. Too busy with making a living, too afraid of what people might think, too concerned with meeting expectations, I float through the days. Some happy, some exasperating, but honest. Productive. Legitimate. This is how I spend my days. But at night… My heart cries out for art.

Tears well up in my eyes as I pass a windmill and ragged pieces of metal wrapped around a chalk board on the streets of the Lower East Side, declaring, challenging, boasting facetiously, “This is not art.” A smile plays across my lips and my heart physically warms as the clock nears midnight and I walk past a wall of six video screens displaying an Andy Warhol film on a quiet stretch of the Bowery. My eyebrows arch but I am inspired as I encounter mannequins with teddy bear heads and cafes that beckon on the streets of downtown.

Late at night my heart cries out for art.

It’s as if the inspiration wells up all day. Though I am distracted, my creative mind records the stimuli I encounter hour by hour. At night, when my rational money-earning people-pleasing self finally gives herself permission to rest, my heart can be heard, at last, crying out for art. I need to consume it, desire to create it, weep at the deficit of it, and vow to make room for more.

My heart is made for art. Not merely at night, but from dawn until dusk. Though it cries out for it at night, I will choose to nourish it more each day. My soul was made to create by the creator of all. I will honor him by creating, by writing, by committing.

Because my heart is not the only one that cries out.. So many hearts cry: for art, for beauty, for hope. What answers their plea? What have I to say to those hearts, those insomniac hearts, crying out for art?

Perception

N train, Brooklyn to Manhattan, 7:32 a.m. Wednesday

I’m watching this guy across from me, slouched on the subway bench, slogging away with the rest of us through the morning commute, eyes closed. He’s dressed in black pleather off-brand sneakers, faded jeans that are faded neither for fashion’s sake or irony, and has a belly rivaling my dad’s hanging over his belt.

I guess at his story. He’s a union guy, probably some kind of contractor—the kind of guy who rolls into the deli ordering his egg sandwich on a hero and coffee light and sweet. He owns a house, deep in Bay Ridge. His wife’s name is Louise, but he calls her “Lou,” or, when he’s with the guys, “the old lady.” His accent is Brooklyn, through and through, and it is thick.

But he has a Moleskine journal open on his lap, a blue ballpoint pen in his hand. It’s a sketchbook. The spread he’s open to is as blank as can be. Not even rule lines guide his musings. But I can see through this page to the one behind, and there’s a drawing there. Two distinct vertical lines and some detailing to the side. Only the broad strokes bleed through the page, but this faint impression of his work is enough to totally alter mine of him.

His eyes have opened. He’s now watching me scribble frantically in my own Moleskine, considering him, as he considers his blank page. Two people, considering one another, creating, at 7:32 a.m. Here’s my stop; time to go. As I pack up my Moleskine, now all the richer for his story in it, I wonder if he’ll sketch me in his. I wonder where his stop is. I wonder how often he draws. I wonder if it’s his career, his passion or both.

Ceasing assumption and choosing instead to wonder, I set about my day, all the more creative, thanks to the man in the black pleather sneakers.

My Mobile Life

In one of my jobs as a communicator, I teach others how to communicate better. Part of that process involves strategically choosing and considering the messages you actually send.

In the midst of working on this, I have realized I can post to my blog via email from my BlackBerry from just about anywhere. I can publish detailed, illustrated updates from anywhere in the world. I find this fact both exciting and terrifying: convenience and speed may well be the enemy of targeted, strategic, empathic communication.

But we all succumb once in a while, she says as she excitedly tests the feature with a photo of my favorite cafe. Choose your communications battles well, friends. And I’ll promise not to tweet any photos of my breakfast. Er, not today at least.

 

Where I Have Been

It’s embarrassing to log in to start a new blog post and realize it’s been nearly two months since I’ve written. I feel like I owe you an explanation.

If only I had one.

There was the “I’m going to write a novel and I don’t have time to blog” moment. I only got 5,000 words down.

I took 10 days off to pray and focus with a few friends around the world. Words were received and given, to be sure, but I posted none of them here. In fact, I’ve kept many of them all to myself, promises I’m owning but holding close to the chest.

And then there was the surprise—to me and my mom—trip to Iowa to celebrate Thanksgiving and my mom’s 60th birthday in one fell swoop. Six more days, accounted for. But the rest?

“Time flies” is such a cliche, but it just does. I’ve settled into a routine, changeable and busy though it may be, the last couple of months: work, life, service, other work, friends, third job work, etc. Having a career best described as “a little bit of this, a little bit of that” doesn’t sound like it would lend itself to creativity-numbing routine, but here we are. Here I’ve been. Since October 28, apparently.

As 2010 winds down, I’ve been thinking a lot about what fosters creativity and what prevents it—and how I can encourage the former. Like so much in life, I think it comes down to a combination of choosing faith, stepping out of fear, and just sheer face-like-flint determination (e.g., actually putting my fingers on the keyboard rather than thinking philosophically about the creative process.)

I’m not a huge “new year’s resolution” setter; if I realize something in my life needs to change, I’d rather start working on it immediately than push it off. But this is a good time of year to take stock. I’m gearing up with renewed energy to focus on true priorities and up the ante on my dreams next year. I’m putting the big rocks in the jar today, and one of those is writing.

So, I’ll endeavor to not disappear on you in the months to come. And if I do, feel free to ask me, “Where are you?” We all need a priority realignment once in a while. Believing for each of you, and for myself, the faith, courage, and strength to boldly pursue your dreams in 2011.

This is What the Future Feels Like

Long Beach, New York

I took Monday off to go to the beach.

Yes, you West Coast and Aussie sand snobs, we have beaches in New York. And yes, it was cold. And yes, I loved every minute.

I live in a city of more than 8 million people. I’ve learned how to find “quiet” moments to reflect, think, pray just about anywhere, but the problem about those moments of relative stillness is their relativity. Sometimes you just need a beach in winter.

Long Beach is New York City’s most accessible beach, just about an hour by train from the city. I went with a friend; we sat in silent camaraderie, reading and staring off at the waves, joined on the beach only by a few fishermen and the occasional jogger. I don’t remember the last time I experienced that kind of quiet.

Later in the afternoon, after warming up with tea in the lobby of a hotel we couldn’t possibly afford, I took a walk alone to watch the sunset.

I took this photo as I stepped off the boardwalk and into the sand and have been staring at it all week. In that moment of stepping out, it was like Peace just washed over me, picked me up, and threw me over his shoulder. I get the sense that he can carry me around on his back everyday, but I find it hard to remember to hop on sometimes.

I walked for a while, snapped photos with my BlackBerry, mentally composed what I’d say in this blog entry—basically, kept my mind busy even though I claimed I was seeking quiet. Finally, I sat down on a rock, closed my eyes, and listened to the waves crashing up against the rocks. Why is it so hard for me to slow down and just listen sometimes? I suppose I’m a product of my city-that-never-sleeps environment.

I love the beach because it feels like everything that would drag me down is behind me and everything that’s mysterious, unknown, unseeable is ahead. I call it my “at the edge of the world” feeling, staring out at the ocean. I know there’s something on the other side, but I can’t see that far. Quite a lot like my life, especially over the last year.

Sitting on that rock looking out into nothingness, I felt OK with that. Peace in the not knowing, because I do know that there’s something out there. And I trust that it’s good.

I realized a lot of other things on the beach that day, too, but I’m not yet ready to verbalize them here, to you. For now, I’m sticking with the peace. When I start to forget, I want to look back at this photo, and hop on up for a piggyback ride into the future.

Traveling Heavy

Funny how this:

Reminds me so vividly and viscerally of this:

Sabiha Gokcen Airport Terminal

I started this blog just before I left for a massive and potentially life-changing journey around Europe. I spent a good deal of time thinking about the name, but like many good things (and, often, God) it took a long time for the name strike me suddenly: Traveling Light. Perfect. Multidimensional. I wanted to be a “light” to people as I traveled, making real connections, sharing joy, and inspiring hope.

I also was trying to fit my whole life into two small and easily maneuvered bags. This was easier said than done. I was traveling across climates and seasons, so some variety of wardrobe was required.

And I like books. A lot. Books are not light.

So why does that heavy laden hanger remind me of Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport? Because I wore all of that as I traveled through it. Plus my heaviest boots over two pair of socks. Plus a pair of jeans. I was wearing more than 12 pounds of clothing when I flew from Istanbul to London, thanks to EasyJet’s more-restrictive-than-Delta baggage policy. And those books? Left with friends in Istanbul (inspiring me to purchase a Nook shortly after reentry to the States).

Putting these cold weather clothes back into rotation stirred up a whole range of memories. I’m both amazed and dismayed at how material items can carry so much emotion and memory. It’s just stuff. (This is the mantra I repeated to myself over and over again as I bid farewell to several items of  said “stuff” in Istanbul.)

So what have I learned? Good question. Other than the vital difference between 50 pounds and 20 kilograms? I still have stuff. And it seems to breed and have baby stuff when I’m not looking. Despite my eReader, I keep acquiring new books. But it just doesn’t matter. I didn’t wear all those dresses I packed for London, and I threw away a couple pairs of shoes before I came back. I was able to be just as charming and cute in two pair of jeans as I might have been in three.

Some items were packed in the name of “being prepared for anything” (and avoiding spending money on the road). But, guess what? I’ve never managed to be fully prepared for all that life’s thrown at me, and I’d rather face surprises head-on than try to defend myself from them. And as for money, precaution has its place, but in some cases a bigger dose of faith will serve me better.

Lugging 12 pounds of clothing and a precariously full rollerboard bag through Sabiha Gokcen was stressful. I was afraid that my baggage would prohibit me from getting to where I was meant to be going. There’s gotta be a life lesson in that.


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Where I’ve Been

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