between here and there


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The Discomfort of Transformation

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“The things we want are transformative , and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation . Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration – how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory , about becoming someone else ?”
Rebecca Solnit,
A Field Guide to Getting Lost

I have spent a great part of my life on the edges of the known. In design, art, home, teaching…there is a certain solitary condition to being on the edge, the boundary that separates what you think you know from what you really know. Like Solnit, whose mantra is recognizable if you read enough of her, is about letting go, disappearing in order to discover yourself in the world , while also discovering the world …I teach from a similar philosophy .

Creative thinkers have this ability to imagine possibilities . Imagining another way of being, existence . From these contrivances comes the future. But the future is long ahead , no matter how soon we wish it would materialize . No great transformation comes over night , despite the moment of the epiphany. Dreaming requires commitment to bring a vision into a reality.

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Courage in Place

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I have recently been reminded of the root of the word courage. From the French corage, which means heart. When we love deeply, we find our courage. Today I am in the place of corage.

The spirit of New Orleans seeps into you if you give it a chance. It’s the reason visitors want to gather T-shirts and coasters and voodoo dolls, trinkets and beads and any other talisman before returning home, where their courage must be weak. New Orleans has a spirit of hopefulness beyond ordinary hope. It is a place where commitment and perseverance shine, where value of place and it’s specificity winds together with people and environ to make something that is not repeatable anywhere else . It is a place where tragedy is worn beside hope, and love next to hate, peace outshines war. It is a place where all that is good in us pushes back against all the potential negatives.

New Orleans shines with our humanness. As a place, it deeply contrasts my home of Montana, Which is why I value any visit here. It reminds me that beauty comes in all forms, that wildness so easily visible in the mountains and rivers and grasslands still survive within us as we stand up for our beliefs of what daily living should be like – and what we should commit to for the long haul.

Being here requires gumption expressed in many ways. Look into Bourbon street and recognize it’s bacchanalian presence. Early in the morning the night before is washed and swept away, and the stain of disregard remains. It only takes a walk to the next block to be deep in the neighborhood of respect and care, where sidewalks may be cracked and old, but are clean and free. In New Orleans a cordiality still remains as people cross paths, walk their dogs, say hello to strangers , contribute to the street with beautiful flowers cascading from baskets and balconies.

The point of all this life, is not to judge in relation to good, to single out, or hope that the bad May disappear. This hope is an unrealistic idealistic condition we should all recognize as impossible when we think about the qualities we hold within. The point of all this life, the place called New Orleans, is the manner in which it exists given the struggle of life . I feel in New Orleans a rise beyond good and bad, a rise of culture that’s potential moves toward the good in spite of the bad. To move beyond our strife toward a belief through courage and commitment to move toward grace.

We can see New Orleans in pictures. We can imagine, we can accept or judge. It may be a place that pushes against our beliefs , our senses, our taste at the tongue. But what I love about New Orleans is that it is real, striding, gathering, grasping, pushing on. Making itself new every morning yet remaining it’s singular self, giving me courage as it seeps Into me.