Sunday, December 07, 2008

Three Sundays

Has it really been over two weeks since I last wrote? In many ways it feels like it's been an action-packed time, even if much of the action has been some high-powered rumination. For no particular reason this entry has photos from the last three Sundays. It just so happens that all three Sundays, whatever else occurred, I also took a really nice walk. Birds figured significantly in all three too. No real point I'm trying to make, I just noticed as I looked at the photos, they were heavy on the birds.

Once again I'm writing in an attempt to articulate thoughts that have largely eluded me. So far the best I've been able to do is identify certain themes that keep popping up. One of the biggest has been gratitude, and I don't think it's just because of the recent holiday. That was wonderful, don't get me wrong, a day spent cooking and dining with loved ones whose views on the good life I always find inspiring and invigorating. It was a great day. Other reasons for gratitude were the performances of Blueprint. Setting foot on that particular stage, I felt a surprising sense of homecoming; it's a big space -11 ft by 30ft- with a 40 ft dome overhead, yet the audience feels very close. This gives it a magical blend of intimate and grand, and has inspired my work on more than one occasion. I was thrilled to be back in it.

Both the producing companies, Six Figures and Kinesis Project, are additional reasons for gratitude. For nearly six years these two companies have provided me with many opportunities to explore my own work. Generally the offer has been something like "we have some free evenings in a great space coming up, ya got anything you want to do?" I'm sure even people outside the nutso world of New York City know just how rare such offers are. Getting to work with both companies at once was luxurious. It was also great that these shows gave me a chance to introduce some of my blogging friends to some of my theatre/circus/dance friends. My worlds got woven together just a bit more.

Of course getting to set foot on a stage again after more than a year (I didn't know I was taking a break, but let's pretend it was on purpose, 'kay?) was... well, the image that comes to me is one of spacious, joyful exuberance. I felt like my parents' dog Fang, when she's been let off the leash to gallop in big dizzying circles. This is not to claim that everything I did worked, mind you. I was trying some new things with some old material (basically trying to move it from bar to stage, and from NC-17 to PG-13), and there are some big problems to be addressed. But just getting to DO the work... yup, big dog running in a field. In the funny way of the universe, doing these shows seems to have triggered some divine network to send other work my way. So far it's only been short scenes with film grad students, but these have come with their own peculiar satisfactions, not the least being the chance to work some creative muscles in danger of atrophy.
But gratitude is not the only word I've been considering lately, sad to say. Another one that keeps cropping up is entitlement. I think this comes from my inner adolescent, the one who still believes the world is supposed to be FAIR goddammit, and says "I've earned my stripes, done my time, I shouldn't have to be starting at square one, or minus one AGAIN!" My inner Buddhist tries to soothe him, saying "remember beginner's mind, all worthy endeavors start from a place of innocence, doing the work is all that matters." My inner Puritan smacks the adolescent with a switch and bellows "you didn't do squat for a YEAR, and it's not like you've been burning up the place before then, what do you expect? There are no guarantees, people work themselves to the bone and STILL might not get 'what they deserve', you've been sitting on your ass for 12 months, you little pipsqueak, what is your problem? Stop sniveling." For good measure the inner critic usually chimes in about now, saying "if no one wants to see you work, then does it really matter how much you feel like a big dog running in a field? Are you doing this just for yourself? Does the world really need that?"
At this point my inner slacker usually notices that The Simpsons is on the TV.

So, gratitude, entitlement, and a whole lot of kvetching. Good times. Actually, it's not so bad, once I identify who is talking. Right now I'd say gratitude -and my inner Buddhist- seem to be in the ascendant. That just seems like the path with the greatest number of options. I like options.
These first few photos are all from a walk I took the afternoon in Riverbank Park (two blocks west of my apartment) before the final Blueprints Show on November 23rd. It was a beautiful sunny fall day, brisk, but still comfortable enough that I could lie down on the grass (in my winter coat) to take the photo above.

It's not just people, my camera really doesn't handle interior shots all that well, especially not in a dark theatre where we only had work lights on. I decided to post some of them anyway, because they cracked me up. This one of my darling Melissa, for example. Like any good dancer, she knows the power of stillness, but you wouldn't know it from any of the shots I took of her that night; in all of them she is a moving blur. This one is wonderfully misleading in another way; she never looks this wicked.

At one point all five of us were doing handstands. I like this shot because it looks like Madeline is standing behind herself.

Here again is lovely Madeline. Though it's dark, this was the only shot I got of a person that was in focus, so I had to include it.

This is friend Jeff stretching. I just thought it was cool. I actually rather like what the camera did here, even if I had no say in the matter. Very expressionistic, no?

This squirrel marks the first photo from my walk on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, in St Nicholas Park, two blocks east of my apartment. This little guy may have been waiting to see if I had any goodies, or he may have been staying close because of...

these hawks. You'll have to enlarge this photo to see them, but there were three, count'em three hawks sitting in a nearby tree. Actually none of the squirrels in the area seemed too concerned. I was just thrilled to see the birds. I never got a decent shot of any of them flying, unfortunately. In this photo there is one in the lower right quandrant, and two in the upper left. The lone bird appeared to be trying, very casually, to join up with the other two, but it never seemed to go well. Families during the holidays, you know how it is.
Another brilliantly sunny day.

This tree full of starlings went into a bit of a tizzy just after I took this photo, probably because...

of the hawk flying overhead. See that little dot just above the pair of towers? That's a hawk. See what I mean about no decent flying shots?

This was sunset on December 7th, my third Sunday walk, once again at Riverbank Park. The temperatures were in the 20s and there was a wicked wind coming off the river from the west. A flock of Canada Geese (or as you call them in Canada, Geese) I first saw on 11/23 (see photo above) had now more than doubled, half of them choosing to sit on the freezing river, in the bitter wind, riding the choppy waves. Maybe it was some sort of arctic amusement park ride.

Periodically a portion of the flock would decide it was time to practice migrating, so they'd take off, circle overhead, then land again, honking all the while. Eventually they all were on land, and began grazing purposefully, one goose clearly leading a loose V.

Good friends, a little work, the natural world if I just pay attention, yeah, I'm sticking with gratitude for now.


Birdie said...

It's great to read of gratitude in this time of hurry and stress before Christmas. I enjoyed strolling through the park with you and meeting some of your friends. (Do you think those hawks are part of Pale Male's family?)

Java said...

Gratitude is a good thought to stick with. I see how it offers the most potential.

Love your pictures, particularly the trees by the water.

I hope this Sunday also offers some pleasant distractions for you.

greg said...

Oh, so great to see a new post from you and these terrific pictures - it's easy to understand why that riverbank tree captured your's a beaut!

Nice wildlife shots, too - they can't all be close-ups! Cute squirrel. You've got me excited to experience one of your walks this weekend.

See you shortly!

tornwordo said...

I've found that sitting in gratitude is one of the best places to be. Thanks for reminding me about beginner's mind too.

Butch said...

I think my favorite photo is the one where the shadows caused by the sun being in its winter pattern fall from the tree very near the bank of the waterway.

More on Gratitude a little later.

Eric said...

Great to have you back again, my friend.

Greg said...

I enjoyed revisiting this post on this side of the weekend and recognizing so many of these shots' locations!

Glad we fit in such a wonderful walk on Sunday...