It’s amazing how good this sign makes us feel.
The other day we received this email from artist Siobhan Humston:
On the theme of New Year & lists, I thought you may enjoy this list from a former school mate of mine, Mark Alessio. He was killed in Africa a few years ago and on the Facebook memorial page, a friend of his posted a page from his at-the-time current resume.
I adopted it as my email signature for a long time and posted it often…the poignancy of his succinct mandate and his death is something that always seemed to touch a cord with people, even those who knew nothing of his brilliant, full but short life.
It makes us think about what list we’d make…as we come across potent principles, we’re going to make a practice of writing them down: ‘proceed with gratitude’ to start. Got any we should know about?
Thanks a million Siobhan!
(Video link here.) One of the very best things in the New York Times’ recent The Lives They Lived was a clip from Terry Gross’ last interview with Maurice Sendak; Chrisopher Niemann’ found and illustrated it. It is full of achingly tender, wise words from the 80-year-old Sendak:
There’s something I’m finding out as I’m aging — that I am in love with the world…I look right now, as we speak together, out my window in my studio, and I see my trees, my beautiful, beautiful maples that are hundreds of years old. And you see I can see how beautiful they are. I can take time to see how beautiful they are.
Our friend Maureen Rolla turned his words into a New Year’s blessing: read more…
We didin’t realize how much Meg Ryan’s soliloquy from Nora Ephron’s “When Harry Met Sally” is the epitomy of YES, JOY, BEING IN THE MOMENT until we saw artist Rachel Perry Welty‘s wonderful sign. Using letters cut from Ephron’s obituary, she transformed a sad passing into a its much bigger view.
via The New York Times’ The Lives They Lived
Related posts: what are your new year’s…wishes?
david allen’s potent questions for a new year
a poster to inspire your new year’s intention
neil gaiman’s benediction for new year’s (or any other time)
(Video link here.) When commercial photographer John Dugdale lost most of his sight almost twenty years ago, he did not give up photography as one would have imagined. Instead, he started photographing in a new way, using a huge view camera and employing 19th century forms and processes. Life forced him to “see in a new way” and his art photographs became highly acclaimed.
Among his many commissions was the ad campaign for a revival of William Gibson’s play The Miracle Worker. This video gives insight into his unique process and the “lesson” he took from his blindness.
“There is an alternate world out there that is as powerful as anything one might describe as normal. Whatever it is that you think is your adversity is actually your strength.” read more…
(Video link here.) Susan Dworski alerted us to this stunning video, in an email with the subject line: “ah, the improvisational human spirit”. It’s about a remarkable orchestra from a remote village in Paraguay — a slum built on landfill — where its young musicians play with instruments made from foraged trash. The village’s inhabitants eke out a living by culling saleable items and materials in the huge dump. When a half-destroyed violin was found, Nicolas Gomez had the idea to rehabilitate it using found materials; the improvisation of other instruments followed.
It is astonishing to hear the wondrous first strains of Bach’s Suite No.1 in G major Prélude played on a cello improvised out of “an oil can, wood that was thrown away in the garbage…its pegs made out of an old tool used to tenderize beef and to make gnocchi…”
…And to hear how these kids lives have been changed by music: “When I listen to the sound of a violin, I feel butterflies in my stomach.” Says Music Director Favio Chavez, “The world sends us garbage. We send back music.” read more…
Sunday’s New York Times featured a wonderful interview with Bill Murray, a man who never ceases to astonish us for his very improvised ways. (He’s the guy who spontaneously said: Grab this day by the neck and kiss it.)
The first couple of pages of a 2010 GQ interview we stumbled on intimates that Murray is not all sweetness and light, but he is an acutely original and honest guy whose thought a lot about how he wants to live, and what, exactly, the point is. (If you want to reach him, you leave a message on an 800 number; if he wants to speak to you he’ll call you back!)
Here’s are a few potent life lessons we clipped from the Times piece:
Q. There seems to be so much serendipity in your life. Are you actively cultivating these moments or just hoping that they come to you?
A. Well, you have to hope that they happen to you. That’s Pandora’s box, right? She opens up the box, and all the nightmares fly out. And slams the lid shut, like, “Oops,” and opens it one more time, and hope pops out of the box. That’s the only thing we really, surely have, is hope. You hope that you can be alive, that things will happen to you that you’ll actually witness, that you’ll participate in. Rather than life just rolling over you, and you wake up and it’s Thursday, and what happened to Monday? Whatever the best part of my life has been, has been as a result of that remembering.
Q. Are there days where you wake up and think: “Nothing good has come to me in a little while. I’d better prime the pump”? read more…
Several years ago I illustrated an 18th century Japanese saying using watercolors and rubber stamps made from hand carved, Staedtler Mars Erasers.
The message reverberates across time.
We find this simple practice from Thich Nhat Hanh‘s great book Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life to be a tonic. You can do it anywhere — subway, shopping mall, supermarket…It changes everything.
It’s on a par with Bill Murray’s “Grab this day by the neck and kiss it”.
Related posts: ‘don’t give up what you want most for what you want now’
‘leap and the net will appear’…
henry miller’s eleven commandments
gandhi: ‘our beliefs become our…destiny
‘what’s not wrong?’ and other ways to start your day
(Video link here.) Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, we spent a couple of hours following links in Roy Arden’s ever-illuminating blog. One took us to a vertigo-inducing video of a man walking the Caminito del Rey in Spain — a narrow path in deep disrepair pinned along the steep walls of a gorge — which people mostly do as a challenge.
It got us thinking about traveling really precarious and dangerous paths, so we followed that idea and came across this video read more…
Thanks to the word
that gives thanks.
Thanks to the gratitude
for how excellently
the word melts snow or iron. read more…
Recently, we were stopped in our tracks by this yellow exclamation point. It is by artist Richard Artschwager, whose work is the focus of a retrospective at the Whitney. Knowing nothing about him, we poked around and found this potent snippet about his amazing !.
…Artschwager’s “blps,” black punctuation-like marks..are intended to make their immediate environment, in the artist’s own words, more “see-able,” and they also offer a chance to pause and reflect.
We figure Artschwager’s exclamation points are a fitting image for Thanksgiving: reminders to pause and reflect on all the teeny miracles around us…
(Video link here.) Several times during the past week, we heard several very creative people we know say “Sometimes I wonder if I’m crazy” meaning…crazy to be doing this…or that…or whatever uncharted path they’ve embarked upon that is not THE NORM.
In honor of them, and to antidote the feeling that “crazy” is bad, we thought we’d reprise this great 1997 Apple ad that salutes “the rebels, trouble makers, the ones who see things differently...the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
As our assistant Dese’Rae L Stage, who stumbled on the great ad summed it up: “the ones who get shit done, basically.”
We’re thinking “Here’s to the rebels, trouble makers, the ones who see things differently….” would make a great Thanksgiving toast.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we followed the New York Time’s blog Storm Aftermath: Live Updates and hit upon an amazing post called “Finding Good Neighbors in Wake of Disaster” by Marcus Yam. Because it had no hyperlink, we excerpted much of it below. The gist: neighbors are one of the best resources you can have, both for tangible help, moral support and for unexpected collaborations in problem solving. Amidst the horrifc devastation of Sandy, this has been the ongoing theme.
Then on Sunday night, CBS’ 60 minutes covered the amazing community of Belle Harbor, Queens, where over 100 houses were burnt to the ground by fires during Sandy. (Video link here.) It is a stunning 13 minutes about what the word community really means. read more…