Changes, mayhaps

bythewater

The name of this blog has always, to me, been about living in the balance between planning and improvisation—about finding a harmony between practicality and spontaneity. I’m not always good at marrying the two (really, it rarely happens, I fall more into the former camp in both instances), but I’ve seen a lot of magic happen when the two approaches are allowed to exist together, for me and for others.

So I’m using that as justification for attempting to steer this site in a different direction. Only a slightly different one, mind, but I thought doing so deserved a post (assuming, lol, that anyone is reading this).

What is it we are trying to do when we write? What is it we want? To express ourselves? To tell stories? To seek connection, or some semblance of immortality, or something deeper? Or is it all of the above?

Does it matter what avenue we take to sate this craving? And what is the purpose of sharing the words that flow from us? This thing we call the Internet is a bona fide means of doing so every second—a fountain of letters and numbers and words upon words upon words. Why, with this in mind, does anyone write at all?

(and hasn’t that particular question been asked and answered thousands of times?)

There are ideas and thoughts to be shared, to be sure. There is information to be distributed. There are opinions to be stated.

And yet, with all of this filtering out through every paragraph that is displayed on a screen or printed on a page, I find that there is still not enough understanding in the world. Of ourselves, and of one another. Talk of worldly and cultural divides is sort of a daily phenomenon lately. Yet there are, too, many divides within us.

How do we begin to bridge those gaps? It seems an impossible task. Yet there is no shortage of ways, most of them involving, yes, words. Stories. Poetry. Movies. Video. Music. Podcasts. Theatre.

Maybe these outlets are where we go to escape, but they are also where we end up confronted with ourselves, if we are so open to the possibility. This is not a profound idea; it’s probably spoken to much more eloquently at the Oscars and/or in AP English classes. But it’s still valid, and it still means something, and I would like this space to be one that has such purpose and possibility. One that features not only my own work of that nature, but also that of others’, and of their unique perspectives.

Hence this change. I have a renewed certainty that the only enemy in the world is neither the self nor the other, but rather, fear. And when we work to eradicate it, we do more than we realize. We make it possible for new stories to be told, and create a sense of hope and light—of understanding and of possibility.

So, all this is to say: creative hope that navigates the chaos. That’s what I want Mayhaps to mean. Mayhaps it will, sooner than later.

[And all that said: first project soon to come!]

You could be anywhere

You could be anywhere, but you are here. And it’s for some reason, whether or not that reason has been properly pinpointed (while, in the meantime, you have been).

Sometimes when I walk (or run or bike) through Richmond, there is this sense of fluidity in the places and people I see. That is, I find myself in pockets of the city that, freed of context, could belong to many other places. This apartment looks like it would be at home in Montmartre. That section of trail reminds of Snoqualmie in summer. If you close your eyes and breathe in the late summer aromas – the heady threat of rain, the musty brown grass and leaves, the fresh breeze off the river – you could be somewhere just hours north or south.

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Bertha’s Country Lane, as it’s called. Not exactly in the country. But it could be!

Or, you could be right where you are.

It’s a transitional time of year. Likewise it’s a transitional time of life for me. Weighing past and future options, learning to appreciate the moment: is this why I find myself in a tug-of-war between being here and craving elsewhere?

Maybe it’s as simple as wiring: we have a need for the stability and safety of home, coupled with an innate desire to wander and roam.

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The paradox continues: stability is not always so easily defined. Entropy likes to worm its way in my daily routine, for example, and sometimes too much stability makes me feel… well, unstable.

Likewise (as we know from Up In The Air), sometimes, too much transience is stagnating. Roots don’t go that deep without the opportunity to stay in one spot.

These are the thoughts that crop up when I find myself shuttling back and forth between Richmond and the DC area, as I have been this month. But then again, even when I stay to try and absorb what is around me, how much possibility there is! How much transience, and activity!

A visit to a local brewery deep in the Virginia countryside, halfway between my old home (Charlottesville) and new one, gave me this sense, as did the languid, lazy time spent there picking sunflowers. We are always growing and learning, yet somehow there lives an inner child who is only too happy to spend a Saturday picking sunflowers.

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So did an evening at a local concert on the James, a day that was really a tribute to life itself, and living it well with others. Music from the past made its way to the present and that’s it’s job, isn’t it? To bring us all to life and lend hope for the future?

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Even in the ordinary, yes, there is so much transience and change. Sometimes it is beautiful change. How clear it is becoming that, yes, perhaps I could be anywhere. But I am here. And that deserves to be appreciated.

The creative spirit

Or: write on, Psalmists.

About a month ago, I went to see The 1975 play in Charlottesville. They, while not of the mainstream-radio set Stateside (yet…), have cultivated an impressively dedicated following. I can’t help but think that it’s not only because of their copious output and obvious talent/hard work combo, but also because of their utter sincerity. In their performance, and in their lyrics, it’s impossible to ignore. To me that is something beautiful – something to be proud of.

Sincerity. Complete emotional honesty. It’s what so many of us seem to be craving lately.

It’s why I love The 1975 unabashedly, even as a not-teenager (though I’m sure at 17 I would have been hyper-obsessed). It’s also one of the many reasons why Julien Baker and her echoic power have drawn me in. The poet with a guitar that rings out like a harp, her simultaneous rejoice and complain – her sincere, raw music are a gift to this world.

Music. Stories. Sincerity. Crying out to God in verse, reaching out to others in melodies, letting one’s spirit be free as it reveals itself between the notes of a song or the lines of a page. These are spiritual acts.

But of course it is, you think. You might think, for example, of the Psalms, of the Song of Solomon – then of Paradise Lost – or of Emily Dickinson’s plaintive queries to the Almighty. My mind goes to a gorgeous book of poetry called Bucolics a friend gave to me: pastoral verses that invoke the relief of nature, that send the writer’s wonderings to the God he calls Boss. Serious, curious, sweet. It’s refreshing.

I think this idea was re-awoken in me, though, by a sermon I heard on generosity. (Not the kind you’re thinking of, probably. Bear with me here~)

What I mean is: generosity is a spiritual act, too. To give what you’ve been given back to others, or to the one who gave it, is to share the light that is love. It is a way of making the impossible suddenly so possible. Of course it’s true in a financial context, but it’s also true relationally, and definitely artistically.

Isn’t this one of the reasons why we create in the first place? Are not our painted, composed, concocted works offerings in themselves?

I am trying to tease out what this looks like in my own life. But I wonder what it could look like in yours. I wonder what it would be like to have more and more people turn to this form of offering and of connection.

So until these questions are answered, I’ll probably just have Julien Baker on repeat. She just casts that kind of spell.