Who were you a year ago?

Who were you a year ago?

Could you have imagined then being where you are now? Did you prophesy all of the beautiful things you would see, and all of the feelings you have felt? Did you guess at how many times you cry, or how much hurt you would endure – how much you would overcome?

How has the world around you changed? How has that impacted you? You are the rock who has become polished and has grown smooth with every ripple that has touched it.

You are 365 more sunrises. You are countless bear hugs later, and an addition of a great many more “thank you”. You are tougher-shouldered, haven given someone a place to land; and ore sure-footed as every day you learn how to walk in this great big world.

Who were you a year ago?

A year younger, a year fewer of experiences – not a year less, just a year fewer.

Now you are should-have-knowns and just-wait-to-sees. You can identify your growth.

And yet… One year later  you still cannot see what will happen next. You are blind to the changes and advances and adventures that await you just as you were a year ago to what was ahead.

But still, despite your lack of certainty, you rush on, chasing who you’ll be a year from now.

Home

Home is a rather abstract concept which humans have literalized. We label a place on places as “home”. Often it is a house, or somewhere we feel a sense of belonging and community. But home is not so clear cut – it is more than just a mat outside a door saying “Welcome”.

Home it isn’t necessarily a place. Home is a feeling: it is complete comfort, an exact match of fitting in. Home is not just passive contentment, but rather active gratitude. Home is happiness, but more than that – home is love.

So yes it can be a place – the place where you climb into bed at the end of the day. Bit it also be an object – a favorite book whose pages never fail to comfort. It can be a person – that one who makes you feel authentic, the one who makes everything better.

And home can change. It can grow. New homes can be created, as additions or sometimes replacements. The hard part sometimes is recognizing that your heart has a new keeper – whether it be one featuring a front door with a cheery welcome mat, or something not characterized by four walls.

Regardless, home is where the heart is.

Mountain Music

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The audience is small – one hundred and fifty people gathered under an outdoor tent, lit from above by sparkling fairy lights, and on one side from the sun setting over the mountains behind the stage. The performers step out. Peter Kater wears a jacket and skinny jeans, creating a rocker-pianist look. Tina Guo arranges her yellow “banana dress” around her legs and her cello as she sits.

The concert that follows holds the audience in rapture, an almost-silent, not-quite-dry-eyed hypnosis. Each song is a once in a lifetime experience – improvised in an agreed upon key and mood. The melodies are little brain waves, sound bytes, plucked and bowed and pressed from brain to instrument to air. Each note is on the spot, in the moment. The performers look at each other every once in a while, connecting through and over their creation, but more often they play with their eyes closed, feeling out the next note, the next phrase.

A minor… E flat… Something spooky… A happy castle song, inspired by location of the concert – Cherokee Ranch and Castle in Salida, Colorado. Each creation is a little piece of performance art: small, intimate, unrepeatable – a site-specific happening. Everyone is present, wrapped up together in the immediacy of the event.

However the improvisation isn’t the only element of the evening. Guo and Kater each perform solo pieces that break up the partnership. Perhaps the most impressive is “The Swan” – a French song played on a French cello, and the best rendition that I have ever experienced. “Love” wraps up the solos, and the piano keys tell a story which inspires longing and hope and contentment.

A slight breeze accompanies the entirety of the performance, helping to carry the music to the crowd, and casting Guo as a goddess whose hair floats as she plays. As the sun goes down it casts a golden glow, which becomes blue as the night overcomes the day. And then it is dark, and the audience is left with one last taste of the ephemeral collaboration. The final notes ring out, reverberating into the listeners and into the fairy lights and into the mountains and into the stars.

As the performers exit the stage, no sheet music is left behind, as there are no stands for it to be left on. No trace remains of the melodies which just moments before filled the air.

It is all just a memory.

Reconciling Emotionality

People are deeply emotional. We are capable of so many feelings, and of feeling them so deeply and completely that we let them fill us up.

This can have polarizing effects.

On the one hand, we can be angry. We are capable of so much hate and hurt and violence and destruction with our words and actions. We can shatter and injure and kill. We are capable of taking lives.

We are capable of changing lives.

Not just for the worse, but also for the better. We can create. We can smile and laugh until it bubbles around contagiously. we are able to love so fully that we are fueled by it. We are capable of creating lives.

We have all of this power: to spread hate or give love; to promote fear or share joy. How do we reconcile those extremes on the human emotional spectrum?

I don’t know.

But the world needs more love. Always more, but especially in the wake of recent events. So we have to figure out how to tip the scale to the side of love.

In Transit

We spend our lives “on the way”.

We are getting to work, heading to class, running to the store. We have goals to be some place or some time. We are focused on a destination, and as soon as we get there – or sometimes even before – we are on to the next.

People find ourselves getting caught up in destination after destination, often forgetting or ignoring that common wisdom that “It’s the journey”.

And that’s okay.

People like to move – we’re good at it. As a species we are constantly in action. So perhaps rather than feeling guilty for pushing and looking forward, we should instead accept that it’ll happen, and remind ourselves to look out the window, to pull over and take a stretch break, to check the map in case there’s an interesting detour.

It’s okay to be in transit – we just have to recognize the movement.

#4: Kobrick Coffee Co.

The ever moving city of New York can often leave you needing to sit and rest. The stimulation of the movement and the lights and all of the people can be taxing. Seeing some of the best art, performances, and architecture around can lead to exhaustion. Simply being in one of the greatest cities in the world can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Should this be the case, Kobrick Coffee Company can be the answer. Tucked away in Chelsea – just blocks from the new Whitney building – it is an excellent option for a place to stop and pause time for a bit. The dimly lit space, though rather crowded with tables and bodies and music, is a nice reprieve. It gives you a chance to stop and sit for a while, to absorb all that you have done and seen, or to just take a minute to breathe. Their menu offers not only standard coffee and espresso items, but also some unique tea flavors, a full bar, and small plates to refuel the busy traveler.

In my case, this site offered itself as a stopping point to digest a full day of gallery shows in the Chelsea area and beyond. After a day of art, this coffee shop was an extension of the experience of the day – offering a relaxed but tuned-in vibe which was the perfect follow up, and exemplified the tone of Chelsea itself.