Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pause for Prose: Baby it's cold outside

There are universal questions that we all ask ourselves throughout course of our life's journey. One of them seems to always be “Who am I?” For some of us it feels like it takes a lifetime to answer while we are met with more and more intense questions at varying crossroads that often feel frightening. Frightening because it requires reflection of ourselves, who we are and we desire to be.
Yesterday I awakened work to freshly fallen snow that covered all of New York as I was getting ready for work. This was a totally new experience for me because I am from Texas. It rarely snows there, and when it does everything shut down. Here in New York folks don’t miss a beat, so with a “when in Rome” attitude I began my trek to the job.
In the midst of tingling frozen fingers, a runny nose, and a flurry of flakes hitting my face, I had an epiphany. Not just that it was cold but something more. As I walked down the avenue to my train I noticed footsteps in the snow going in every direction. Some seemed to disappear in the dirt and grime of the street while others were going right and some retreating back from whence they came. As I began to make my own impressions I thought about all of the pressures I have put on myself to be something grand and to make my impression on the world. I heard the crunch of contentment and felt myself slipping on a path that says, “Life is too short for mistakes you have to get things right the first time” yet when an elder passes we are often met with words of solace like “they made many mistakes but with those mistakes that were life lessons, and left impressions on them that made them the person they are. We should celebrate their life for their greatest successes and many failures.”
Too often we focus on the destination that our footsteps will take us to, yet we forget to enjoy the texture that life brings and the journey that leads us to our destination. We step out into the cold world feeling all alone, on our own trying to make sure that we don’t slip and fall, or get on the wrong path and having to turn around.
Often discouragement and fear lies in the knowledge that these paths are unchartered and therefore unknown. There are holes you could sink into, snow covering ice that could cause you to slip an fall, slippery walk ways that could cause you to lose your footing. For this reason it seems that many of us run from the path that was laid before us, retreating back to beginnings and never progressing. You got folks telling you, you may get out there and that cold is going to kick your ass, only to find out that it’s not that bad. For me as I moved forward I began to see things differently, as I took each step I was creating a temporary path for someone to use as a guide and even if I were to fall or step in a hole my mistake helped expose my followers to not step that way. But the thing I think I liked most about the snow is that any misstep I made would soon be blanketed so that I could try again, and soon after it will all wash away when I reach the warm destination of self-contentment.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A night at the Opera

Despite a long day, working midnight shift then getting off at eight in the morning to be at my internship at nine, I was anticipating going to my first opera with a co-worker of mine who is a lover of the arts. After I received the call that she had gotten the rush tickets (if you don’t know you better ask somebody) I hopped on the bus headed to 62ndstreet. There was a light but consistent rain as I got on that was just heavy enough to make it annoying. That, coupled with the traffic from the lighting of the tree in Rockerfeller Center, would have been enough to aggravate most but I was enjoying the rest I was getting and knew that we had time before the show started.

Because we arrived so early we had about an hour and a half to spend, so we decided to check out the gift shop. I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to find something for my mother for Christmas. Unfortunately even the smallest trinkets were out of my price range. Still, the place had some beautiful costume displays and other nice memorabilia to look at. As we walked a little further and listened to Pavarotti playing lowly in the background

I was drawn to this painting. The gentleman in it was poised and elegant in a brocaded suit with knickers, cream silk stockings, and pumps with a cape to match. I couldn’t help but feel underdressed in my car coat, cable knit, and cords, but it was my first time at the Opera so I figured my fellow patrons would cut me some slack.

Before going into the lobby area we checked out an exhibit entitled Mary Magadeline that showcased artist's different interpretations of Mary Magadeline. Check the “Good Book” for more info on her. The thing I especially enjoyed about these remarkable artists was that they each had a individual interpretation of who Mary was and what she represented and they conveyed them in an array of mediums -- one in sculpture another in mosaic, some depicting her as a saint, others demurely, and others still in a more seductively and rakish manner. While the mediums, depictions and dispositions were quite different from one another, all of the artists came together to create something beautiful. Life is a lot like art in this way.

As we walked through the museum the pictures and keepsakes from the house spoke to it’s rich history. Speaking of history, this is the perfect place for a little bit about the Metropolitan Opera House, it was founded in 1883 by a group of business men who wanted their own theatre. In the beginning the management and language changed frequently which often meant translating original scores from one language to another. Finally management decided it would be easiest to keep each play in its original language. The Met (as is it is typically referred to) host more than two hundred performances with more than a quarter million people in attendance each year. New York’s socialites and movers and shakers often come out opening night in sartorial splendor to celebrate first curtain. The Met seems to be vested in continuing the arts developing a new program that commission playwrights and composers with whatever they need to develop new works that can be produced at The Met. The Met also offers a rush ticket program that provides discounted seats ($20) in the orchestra section which provided this opportunity.

With all the visual and audio stimulation around me I was amped going into the autotorium and was pleasantly surprised to see that I wasn’t under dressed. We found our way to our seats and I prepared myself for “The House of the Dead”. I was comfortably in my seat as a hush fell over the crowd when a the first act began and the lights went out. And then, so did I. I was awakened by my co-worker telling me she had to use the powder room and if I didn’t see her she enjoyed attending with me I couldn’t believe it, I had fallen asleep. Oh well at least I could say I had been to the Opera and I had a reason to go again.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Holiday Spirit.

With the holiday season in full swing, I wanted to offer an alternative perspective to typical mindset that comes with the season. With the economy on the rebound and consumer confidence on the rise, some say there is a temptation to be sucked into the commercialism of the Christmas season. But is that the attitude we should have? With Thanksgiving having just passed I have had an opportunity to take a moment to think about on what I was really thankful for. While I am sure we are all thankful for the turkey, stuffing, and sweet potato pie, let’s not forget that all these things are “dressings” for the real reason for the season.

This past Thanksgiving I had the pleasure of engaging in lively conversations with my new extended family over a few glasses of wine and several glasses of iced tea because still I had to work that night. We shared laughter, jokes, and had a wonderful time enjoying each other perspectives on the goings on of the world around us. It was in that moment that I had an epiphany - it is these moments--these experiences--that we should hold on to...that we should be thankful for. You cannot put a price tag on these moments. They are our most pure and priceless keepsakes.

One of my brothers from another mother took a picture of me and a literary friend of mine engaging in a conversation (...because we can fly blog at, check her out she may just bless you). She made mention during that conversation that the picture could be anywhere in years to come, and someone could be asking questions like, “What do you think they were talking about?” “What was going on in the world at that time?” We have the power to inspire thought, research, and inspiration through images, but what’s more is that we have a forum with which to discuss it on a global scale. For others to be invited into our life to see things through our eyes, and experience a different walk in our shoes.

I am thankful to my family back home, who cultivated and developed my curiosity which put on the path that led me here to this beautiful city. And I am thankful for the wonderful people that challenge me to be better and inspire me to contemplate deeper things, and live a more fulfilled life. As Christmas quickly approaches, and we rush out to buy the latest electronic devices, new toys, or trendy articles of clothing let us not forget about the gifts that can’t be bought but carry so much more value: family interaction, being with to the ones you love, and seeing Christ in those we interact with. That’s definitely something to be thankful for.