Face-to-Face

I suppose any season is good for “time travel.”  Case in point: The Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Throughout New England and other parts of the country, living museums provide a chance to feel what we could only imagine.

Such places serve to remind us of what we have. Or what we’ve lost.

On a particular Saturday evening, I was reminded of the power of conversation. The Shakers traditionally have family dinners, meaning you sit at a table–often a rather long one–and enjoy supper together.  This particular night came via the Food for Thought series, a HSV summer event whereby one sits and enjoys a gourmet farm-to-table dinner and conversation. From June thru August, an author is invited to dine, discuss and engage about a recent book that she/he has published.

Traveler, award winning writer, bestselling author, Mr. Simon Winchester.

The narratives can be compelling. Unsurprisingly, there’s the conversation of getting-to-know a bit more about a person, not the least being the author who’s about to recount a journey of research, writing, editing and more.

Like the author, the guests had their own experiences to share. Most were familiar [snippets of life’s journey from a father-mother-engineer-lawyer-financial manager-medical doctor, e.g.], and others were fascinating to hear and talk about. In attendance was a young student of epidemiology, and I should have talked with him beyond his academic CV [Princeton, then John Hopkins].  It would’ve been fascinating to hear more about the rise of diseases and other ailments that can quickly wreak havoc on populations around the world.

The beauty of talking face-to-face is that beyond the words you hear, you’re also emotionally involved. Expressions, gestures and tone each hint at nuances that can be missed when engrossed with email and text messages.

I enjoy the various digital communication platforms and they can be timely if not helpful. However, there’s still something to be said about connecting with people face-to-face. And that kind of connection can make such a difference in your comings and goings day in, day out.

 

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Ode to Imaginative Playing

Wherever and whenever possible, the grandsons engage body, mind and soul in imaginative play. And it’s good for them. We encourage such play and the possibilities that open up for their young selves.

If you watch them, listen to them, their imagination and enthusiasm bursts with a palpable vigor of discovery. We could learn a thing or two from such unbridled vigor.

An arm extended is a wing just as the rushing, whooshing sound from their mouth is that of fast-moving air giving lift to the aircraft. You can’t ignore their commentary for it further explains the depth of their imagination and understanding of how they play. “He’s way up in the sky…diving down then up again…he goes very far and very fast.”

I see in all their  imaginative play a power that exceeds that of any CPU. What they emotionally and physically feel, the how of what their mind’s eye offers, when they encounter a challenge [“He won’t share the glider!”]—or arrive at a compromise or solution—every bit of it adds to their development as communicators, problem-solvers, collaborators and empathetic beings.

Indeed seeing these two boys and all that they say and do remind me to nurture my own imagination.  At least not to ignore it. The why of such nurturing can liberate and acknowledge a sense of purpose and triumph.  Many of us are unlikely to realize our loftiest, most ambitious dreams and goals, but pause and think again.

Our imagination can fuel possibilities that can manifest into a journey that’s not only our own, but a story genuine to our sense of self .

Nothing but Blue Skies…

“Blue skies, smiling at me, nothing but blue skies, do I see.”  Irving Berlin

It just hit me. This color blue. It was electric, cheerful, optimistic, surreal and more. Not sure why, but it just was.

So, I took a  photo.

Ella Fitzgerald recorded a terrific rendition of this song. Perhaps we should cue it up and listen to it more often. The lyrics just might move you from a place you don’t like, to one that’s much more hospitable if just kinder.

Arrive Here to get Over There

The itinerary reads, “4-hours, 34 minutes” of travel time. Not unreasonable considering point A to B is about 1,200 miles [1,931 km]. Fortunately, I can get a nap without much effort.

Alternatively, I can journal and even snap a photo or two. Which I did. And I also thought back on Christopher Nolan’s film, Interstellar. The recent news about capturing a photo of a black hole and what seems to be renewed interest in the cosmos has sparked [again] my curiosity about time and space and relativity.

One line in the movie fascinates me to no end: “One hour here [on an alien planet] is 7 hours on earth.”  Because the crew traveled through a worm hole at almost the speed of light, time dilation occurred. Theoretically, it means time moves slower when you’re travelling extremely fast.

While it would be a major convenience to reduce travel time across the globe, I consider some of that time in transit as quiet time, even meditative. We’re already rushing–to arrive here–to get over there. It’s an overused saying but, “life is better viewed as a journey rather than a destination.”

Off the grid

One of the spoils, the pleasures if you will, of being close to the ocean is that during the off-season, everything feels quieter….


…unhurried…


…introspective…

…unspoiled…

…undisturbed…

…calm…


…spacious.

North

A few days ago, the cold felt punishing. Yes, I have preference for cold versus hot days, but when the air is already cold at zero degrees Fahrenheit, then enhanced with a windchill of -15, well, that may be enough to reconsider that preference.

I’m fortunate that I can retreat to places where the cold and wind don’t feel as threatening. From the safety of these retreats, I philosophize on the dual sides of nature, of how something that can appear simple and beautiful and minimal can deliver a reality check powerful enough to humble any aesthete caught up in winter’s vanity.

Do you get the feeling that winter provides a sense of calm? The calm I speak of provides a level of reassurance. This winter calm is a metaphorical blanket, one which acts like a shield from unwelcome and sometimes sudden vicissitudes. Such a blanket stops–albeit briefly–the weariness of having to deal with things that keep us from finding a particular quiet.

And when the quiet is welcoming, the alone time is curative…