Therapy

After eleven hours straight inside one building, essentially in two rooms and the hallway and stairwell between them, I am in need of some nature therapy. Luckily, New York has my back with the beautiful Central Park.  My mile plus walk across the Park rejuvenates me on my way home, ready to stitch or sketch as the spirit moves me. 

And then the train ride home said, “Don’t forget about me.” And the sun was beginning to set over the water. It’s hard taking pictures on a moving train,  but trust me,  in person it was lovely.  

A Rose Refurbished 

A couple of Fridays ago, I had some time on my hands,  so I went to the newly refurbished Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library. Always a beautiful space, it is now brighter and cleaner as well. It is certainly conducive to creativity and work.  And let’s admit it,  the two go hand in hand.  But surrounded by beauty and knowledge,  it is easier to engage in the search for truth.  (Support your local libraries, museums, and cultural institutions, my friends.  Tell your Congressmen to support the arts,  the NEH and the NEA.)

As I looked around the majestic room, I saw people from all walks of life immersed in all sorts of reading/writing activities: in print, online, by hand, by machine, researching,  creating, in English,  in Chinese, Spanish, French, etc. And others came in to appreciate the art and architecture, and others just to sit for a minute. It is a beautiful space that offers so much to so many.  I feel lucky to have experienced it today. And in a true New York moment,  I ran into people I know who had just stopped in to see the room!

One of the things I love about libraries is the access to the creativity of generations. Thousands, millions really, have left a little part of themselves for us to read and know. They inform, challenge, and inspire. But the Rose Reading Room of the NYPL does even more–through the beautiful architecture of the building, the space itself inspires. It is a place I love, yet definitely do not get to enough.

Musing on a topic? Stuck on a scene? Look up to the newly renovated ceiling and drift among the clouds or trace with your eyes the ornate designs. Soon, new ideas and connections will spring to mind, and your creativity will flow freely. Grab a seat and begin. I’ll see you there!

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Snow It Is

Well,  the meteorologists were right.  The snow came and blanketed the spring-like fields of yesterday. 

We headed out for a walk and to clean off the car and got some help from the abominable snowman. 

Okay,  that’s really just the ice scraper. 

But by the time we were heading home the sun was shining, promising better days to come. 

Spring today, Snow tomorrow

Today it is 61 degrees in New York City,  in February,  and on my walk through the park,  the barrenness of the trees is at odds with the sunshine and temperature.  

It’s weird,  but I still took advantage of weather to take a longer walk through the park today. And I was not alone, though the picture below makes it seem that I almost was. 

The oddest thing about our spring February day is the weather report for tomorrow–8-12 inches of snow. Of course the metrologists are having a field day predicting all different scenarios,  but for me, I’ll enjoy the open fields of Central Park instead. 

We’ll wait and see what tomorrow brings. I’m convinced now that the snow won’t amount to much because they’ve already closed the NYC schools. I wasn’t actually looking for a snow day because if we don’t use them,  we’ll get a five day weekend in May. But I’ll take it; at least I can spend the day creating (and grading). As Robert Herrick says, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.”

Photographic Inspiration

Everywhere you look, there is something to inspire you. Let the creative juices flow and appreciate the beauty of the world around us. And when that beauty is hard to see, create it! Here are just a few images from the past six months that make me smile. I hope they do the same for you.

Does Creativity Matter?

This week it’s been on my mind to write about prose poetry, yet the truck attack in Nice, France and the attempted (?) millitary coup in Turkey have distracted my attention and wavered my resolve to keep writing about creativity and my perhaps banal thoughts thereof. I was struck with a moment of “what does it matter?” But creativity does matter.

I live in America which, for now at least, is still the home of the free and the brave. And our creative voices must be heard. Yes, there are the political voices heard loud and furious around the nation, but the creative writers–fiction, poetry, even creative non-fiction–must also contribute. Sometimes, often times, many of us, myself included, are put off by the strident, demogogic speeches or writing of those with biased agendas. While creative writings may be no less partisan, the delivery may be less harsh, therefore opening some to different view of the situation.

I’ll admit that sometimes I do not want to hear speeches by either candidate for President, nor read the the media’s take on them. Yes, I know I need to keep myself informed, but at the same time, the speeches are so hyperbolic and the media’s coverage so skewed (which way depends upon which station one watches) that they are often hard to stomach. I find myself riled by both sides–more so than ever before. What can we do?

For one, I find I prefer to read than to hear the news. Yes, the print media can still be biased, but it is easier, for me at least, to tone down the rhetoric and compare and contrast among different outlets. And then, I respond–not usually with this blog, but with my own journals, my poetry. I work out first what I think using my creative juices before I commit to a viewpoint fed to me by the mainstream media.

So creativity does matter. Yes, yes it does. Ask Nabokov or Voltaire or Allende or Paz or Fuentes. They risked their lives, their homelands, their way of living because they could not contain their voices. Nor should they. Nor should we. Our creativity is what makes us human. I have said as much in previous posts. Luckily America is not yet a land which imprisons the voices of its conscience or causes them to flee; therefore, we must all take on this responsibility, which is God given, to stand up for the rights of all. Create works that matter. Create works that last. Remember the only villians are the ones who wish to stifle your voices or to marginalize a group of people, and  remember even if that group is not your own, you should still care about them because we are all one, we are all human.

Keep writing, friends. Keep painting. Keep taking photos. Keep singing. Keep crocheting. Keep sculpting. Keep creating. The world needs you more now than ever.

 

Urban Bounty

9/11 Memorial, side view

9/11 Memorial, side view

A few weeks ago, I blogged on nature’s bounty; now I want to focus on man made beauties, urban bounty.

Earlier this summer, a friend from Ohio came to visit, and I played tour guide and host for three days. It was great fun, not only seeing her and meeting her daughter, but also seeing my hometown through fresh eyes. I also went places that I don’t normally go in order to show them some of the city’s gems. We roamed all over from The Cloisters all the way uptown to Chinatown downtown to Central Park, Times Square, Broadway, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Did I mention that my hometown is NYC?) We saw man made treasures from antiquity to today, from statues to armour to tapestries to landscaped lawns to musical theatre.  One thing is for certain, creativity has always been and must always be a part of our lives and museums collect and preserve these traditions for all of us, and having guests helped me to break out of my routine of always taking the same route and going to the same places.

This past weekend my husband and I vacationed in our own city. Have you ever done that, become a tourist in your own town? It too helps you appreciate where you live. We first visited the National 9/11 Museum and Memorial, a beautiful testament to a dark day. What we saw reminded us of the devastation, but also of the beauty of the original architecture of the towers and the community that arose from those ashes. And as New Yorkers, and indeed the country, came together to sift through the rubble, many recognized the need to create anew from these very materials. We can never recreate the lives that were lost, but we can honor them through their photographs and their stories. It will never be enough to overcome the loss, but it is what we can do. From the first days of recovery, rescue workers and volunteers instinctively knew that they must create from the debris and build something different, something memorializing from what was destroyed. All of this is in evidence at the museum as well.

From the subterranean museum, we felt the need to walk in the light and rise above the city, so we walked the High Line, a rail to trail project that turned an unused elevated railroad into a park suspended over the streets of Manhattan. Here humanity took an outdated utilitarian railway and created a space for city dwellers to walk above the traffic, to sit and enjoy the sunshine, to appreciate swaths of flowers and greenery, and, for a limited time, to build a Lego city (http://art.thehighline.org/project/olafureliasson/).  Here we viewed the ingenuity of man in so many different forms.

Yet New York has so much more to offer. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a Neo-Gothic masterpiece that is still in use. We attended Mass, thereby experiencing the building as it is meant to be used, and we also walked reverently around the inner circumference viewing all the chapels. It is an amazing building created in the mid-1800’s with such intricacy and attention to detail. The stained glass windows, the statues, the mosaics, the statues, and indeed the building itself awe even a non-believer with their beauty. Architecture has long been a way for humanity to express its then vision of beauty. From the ultra-modern “Freedom Tower” to the Neo-Gothic St. Pat’s to colonial architecture downtown, New York certainly has it.

So far this summer, for me, has been the summer of the city, and it looks like that will continue as the month continues. I already have one more play date set up, and hopefully another in the works. (No, that is not a reference to getting kids together; in this case, I mean a date to go to the theatre!) I am going next weekend to the NY Botanical Gardens, a cultural institution that has been around since 1891 that I have not yet visited. There is a Frida Kahlo show currently on view. The painter in me looks forward to learning more about her.

How about you? What does your city offer? What place, museum, cultural institution have you not visited lately? Be a tourist in your own city. Enjoy what it has to offer and let it inspire you to add your voice, whatever the medium, to the song of your city. Revel in the urban bounty.

The Freedom Tower

The Freedom Tower

Believe it or not, this is a subway station!

Believe it or not, this is a subway station!

Gorgeous Ironwork

Gorgeous Ironwork

St. Patrick's Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Pat's detail

St. Pat’s detail

St. Pat's Door

St. Pat’s Door

Atlas

Atlas

Patriotic beauty

Patriotic beauty