Thursday, June 30, 2011

30 for 30

They say that 30 is big. ("I wanna be BIG." —Josh, in the movie Big)

What is this emphasis on 30? I haven't looked it up yet. Haven't looked up its history or evolution as the ostensible marker of adulthood. 21 is big, yes. So is 25 (quarter-life crisis). 60, 62, 65 . . . But somehow 30 beats all.

30. It's strange how a number can alter one's psychology. Suddenly I see more freckles, moles, lines. Senility—or more of it.

It's also fun. Fun to give weight to this age, a significant if not honorable feeling of transformation. Passage.

Thus, in honor of 30—and in the spirit of my love of lists (tip of the cap to you, Kat White)—I present 30 for 30. Thirty goals for my year at 30. (Here's hoping they impact 31.)

- Follow through.
- Purchase local art. Purchase a few more chairs so that standing is an option.
- Kayak.
- Rock climb. A real rock.
- Boxing circuit training at Y.
- Travel to another continent, a new country.
- Change the routine.
- Ask more questions. Embrace your limitations and go from there. It's okay to be vulnerable.
- Buy a bike. Bike to work.
- Focus. Energy is everywhere, but harnessed energy is powerful. And it changes lives. Focus your energy.
- Read opinions different from your own.
- Turn the computer off at 10.
- Honesty. Upfront. I think that's called being straightforward.
- Host a dinner party. or two. or three.
- Keep work at work. Keep home for yourself.
- Respect others while respecting yourself.
- Own up. Own it.
- Watch season one of Mad Men . . .
- Watch Luis Bunuel's classic, The Exterminating Angel (per Woody Allen).
- Buy more plants.
- Can't find that class you're looking for? Start your own.
- Say yes to that experience, even if it's scary. There's a difference between danger and fear. Again, vulnerability is key.
- Meet an admired artist/communicator.
- Write letters. With a pen.
- Sleep more—8 hours is good. You have time.
- Make a complicated recipe. or two. or three.
- If you've thought about it 5 times, chances are you need to act.
- Go to the doctor.
- Have your palm read.
- Embrace the culture where you are. So much going on around you. Notice it.
- Reach out.

Okay, so that's 31. One to grow on.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mind of the beholder

I've determined I have an obsessive mind. (Granted, we all probably share this to differing degrees. I believe I'm slightly left of center, left being liberally obsessive.) Though I think we put a negative spin on obsession, it doesn't have to be bad: scholars, editors, those with good hygiene, and music lovers are generally obsessive people.

Or is the latter the result of one-who-has-good-hygiene's obsessive bent?

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing live one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Brandi Carlile. As I continue to root myself in this little-town city, I am continually amazed by its charm and distinct plusses: near to the mountains, near to the coast, with one of the best parks in America, two hours from ATL, Charlotte, one from Asheville, home to Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, a gluttony of farmer's markets, area farms, artists, and, soon, Anthropologie. But, aside from this, and the excellent people I'm blessed to call friends, I experienced a seminal moment that will forever mark Greenville as a life-moving place: sharing, with a small crowd, the sheer beauty, energy, and immense talent of one of my current favorite performers.

Why is music so moving?

The answer is one we sense but can't necessarily explain. We simply understand our intrinsic inclination, a desire to listen and to respond to rhythm, notes, words. We share an interest in music, as we share our basic needs: breathing, eating, walking, mating, and vacuuming.

And, as we know, collective experience (energy multiplied) is like amping your listening room from clock radio to surround sound. Concerts, especially in small venues, where you're standing shoulder to shoulder, beer to beer, with sweaty, music-loving people, screaming the words, awestruck as you sing in real time with your favorite singer, are moving experiences—the difference between seeing the Grand Canyon in pictures and sleeping in its air. Unmatched. Inexplicable. Simply awe-some. Collective soul? Absolutely.

Though there is weight behind all expression—literary, visual, theatrical, dance, etc.—music (symphonic, operatic, and—perhaps most especially—rhythmic, lyrical, and personal) pierces to the core. It is visceral. And it is collective. In no other art can you participate so presently/simultaneously/cathartically with the artist. So, Brandi and I, though we arrived from different places, were expressing ourselves at once. I was singing her words, with her, of different experiences, but with a shared understanding. I was screaming her words with her, and that was amazingly powerful.

We are moved by art, by artists, by lives and work we consider valuable. To share this experience just makes me smile.

And, though I thought I was before, I am officially obsessed with Brandi Carlile. It's stated, here in writing. Hopefully I am putting it to good use.