Monday, September 26, 2011

A Different Pace

As the light turns from summer to fall, it seems time to catch-up on turning points I've been experiencing. It is hard to sum up all that I've been doing in the last month and even more difficult to explore all the thoughts pondered. The pace has been different and even my travel mode changes—cars, bikes, and even the train across New York State—all opportunities for new vantage points. Sabbatical has been extremely freeing for my eyes to see, my mind to wander, and for exploration to take on frightening speeds. If I attempt to pin down my thoughts, they continuously circle around the question of the value and the balance points of emotional, spiritual, physical and virtual experience in culture and for the individual self.
Prompting and informing this question has been four meaningful events/activities:
  1. My mother's 80th birthday and the opportunity I've had to spend lots of time with her and my dad at this shifting point in their lives. She happens to be the woman I most admire in the world for both her intelligence and her heart. Her reflections on what has been meaningful in her life have profoundly influenced how I am now considering the next 25 years of mine. My question for myself especially in this sabbatical year is "Am I still on the right course and if not where is the correction?".
  2. Images and Voices of Hope: the opportunity to explore media and life purpose with an extraordinary group of media influencers. The summit only fine-tuned the question above as speakers shared their work from the thought-provoking research of Sherry Turkle ( here's her latest thinking on technology and self) to the emotionally rich, risk-taking photography of Kael Alford (Iraq Unembedded) to the reflective practice of poet Mark Nepo (The Book of Awakening and his poetry). Michelle Hunt created this a wonderful recollection of the weekend. This quote from her blog sums up for me the experience as well:
    "These beautiful people are committed to shinning the light on people and events so we can see the whole of life - not just the violence and destruction. They are not people who wear rose-colored glasses; they have a clear grasp of current reality. Many of them have witnessed and reported the unimaginable devastation caused by of war, conflict and natural disasters. However, in the face of horror and heartbreak they also found the courage to discover and spotlight the beauty and resilience of people around the world. These voices and images of hope inspired me."
  3. Signing the contract on my Rochester, NY studio, moving in, and beginning to paint. An unfinished painting is waiting for me there. It is roughly about all of this and as well about my friends Liz Coyne and Jack Renaud. Tentatively it is entitled "Learning to Fly". The question being in a studio poses for me is why, who, and what. Why in this era of the virtual, return to pigment? Who cares about the output or is it purely for me and the process. And finally what is the purpose of painting? My starting point, there are many painters with beautiful results but to me painting is a deeper art—an art of posing questions and multiple answers.
  4. Walking, walking, walking. Recording, recording, recording. I've given myself a goal of 10,000 steps a day this last month which has forced me out and about in surprising places - from Vermont hills to Rochester suburbs and cityscapes to the unknown forest of the Catskills. What this has meant for me is a visual feast and an ever present camera. Because of this and because of the changes in my social media thinking, I've opened up a Flickr account to share and I am now pondering how reflective action inspires creative thought. The bigger question to me is where and how do we balance "Maya" with "Mash-ups", our earthly existence with our eventual dissappearance?

More to come.

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