Thursday, December 11, 2014
In this particular context I was thinking about the struggle of the writer: do you spend your time observing and fashioning descriptions of life, or are you fully in the moment, present, living it? Do I throw myself into love; consequences, time constraints, and emotional vulnerabilities be damned? Or do I keep myself withdrawn and give myself the discipline and structure it takes to be a better artist? Can I do both?
But living fully for me in general means a few things right now:
Being loved, and loving. Improving the world using my skills, thoughts, and energy. Exploring the world in its multifaceted and dangerous splendor. Eating great food. Pushing myself, and getting stronger. Illuminating the darkness for those more fragile. Bearing witness to the end of days. Going down all roads in search of truths. Being uncompromising about truth, when I can see it, and thoughtful about it when I can't.
I am typically of one of two minds. For entertainment purposes, let's paint them in their extremes.
I either wake up in action, uncoiling like a spring, with a gasp, and I move. I want to boldly and uncompromisingly assess challenges and take them on, honing my mind into acuity in response to the twists and turns life throws me. I am strong, and virile, and laughing the triumphant laugh of a joyful and wrathful god, many headed. I want to dance and sing with the glory of living. I do not want to crush my enemies because I have no enemies, I only have challenges that make me stronger. Everything improves in my presence because I love everything and I am alive.
In this mindset, my purpose on this planet is to use my mind, my body, my charisma, and my determination to improve the world. This is the version of myself that wants to run the Bicycle Collective, that wants to write a best-selling young adult novel that shows kids to confront their fears and insecurities with joy and love for their allies. The version of me that smiles when talking to a homeless person because I have the capacity to love them and in that love is salvation for both of us.
Or I wake up slow. I want nothing better than to find refuge from the world, in someone's arms, in food, in distraction. By running away. I acknowledge the frailty of the world and my own frailty within it. At these times I feel things like thunderbolts, and the calamity of the human condition leaves me a cold vessel. My eyes no longer crackle, they become repositories of dread and sadness.
Here, I am meant to be a measure of what is real. I am meant to feel what can be felt, and decipher it into poetry. The hurt can hurt me, but I am protected from it in my role as a recorder. I loathe the damage that the teenager receives just by being surrounded by other broken people. The homeless person terrifies me because I might soon become them. And the sky's darkness is the harbinger of the future.
The compassion of the quiet me and the radiance of the bold me can serve two purposes.
They can be poured into another person, who absorbs them, learns from them, nurtures them, is emboldened by them, or maybe even is broken by them.
Or they can be poured into text like charged ions into batteries. Wrapped up into complicated emotional talismans to tell the human story, and hopefully, save the world.
Ideally they serve a combination of the two. Which is where I figure my shit out.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
One of the hardest and most rarified moments that I return to in my life occurred shortly after I was a freshman in college. I had just had a big goodbye dinner, spontaneously organized with about 15 of my freshmen friends from University. C_ was there, A_ was there, 3 dancer girls that I'd become crazy close, R_ and M_ and a few other people that made me happy but weren't terribly important. We broke into the Post theater and danced up on the stage after making a great pot-luck, I think I cooked for people a bit.
I was recalling this night, and the culmination of new relationships that it signified, as I boarded a plane to Cairo. I was planning on leaving everything I knew for a year, and up until that moment I felt fine about that. But as I looked at the neutral grey surreality that you always see at through airport windows, I felt my life was finite for the first time. I realized that the three dancer girls, who'd become incredibly important to me over the past year, would probably drift away. Not only was that shocking, but I realized that I'd probably never meet people just like them again, realizing in theory the difference between college friendships forged on exploration and the cooler networkings we create down the road. I stopped short in the terminal, looking out the window, almost crying. "Why am I running from that?" I wondered. "Why am I throwing that away?"
I don't have a good answer to those two questions. The older we get, the more true the metaphor of a life with many doors becomes: Each opening reveals a thousand new portals and simultaneously closes off a thousand others. Those closed doors will always haunt you. But I do have a counter-story.
Later, on the same trip, I was in Siwa, a desert oasis on the Libyan border, a town made of sand built in 900AD, since which time it had rained precisely twice. The first rainstorm had cracked a foundation here and there, but life went on until the late 1800's when a second rainstorm rendered the impossibly ancient structures uninhabitable. At this point, two months into my trip, I'd seen and done a thousand things that I couldn't begin to articulate to myself. I could only feel that I had finally seen firsthand many of the huge nameless truths of the world that can only be experienced in the open-eyed passage between 1st and 3rd world, seeing the beauty and terror of both. I sat atop of the crumbling sandscape, alone, and bawled my eyes out.
My point, I think, is that I couldn't have learned that without letting go of my friends. Some of them, like A_ and C_, are still huge presences in my life, and I'm thankful for it. Some of them are not. The question you have to ask yourself is: When you look back on your life, and your decisions, are you glad you're not still the person you were in C_ with S_ and M_ and J_? Has the cumulative You, with those experiences and your later ones, grown to be enriching and satisfying in a variety of ways? There will always be loss, and always gain. Sometimes what we want most excludes what we also want.
I think you're right in being worried about your current place in life, and yearning for more. You can up and switch to living in a Cob-house, and I think you'd have an amazing time. But you'd lose things to do that. Maybe it makes sense to leave Seattle and move to Rio Mesa, but I'll remind you that none of the people you miss in this email are in Rio Mesa. You'd start from scratch there too, and maybe it's worth it. Leaving now would be different than leaving in 2 years, because a good life is never still, wherever it is. But it'd be worth it, either way.
The other thing about those people you love (and D_'s devotion to his friends reminds me of this): They won't hang around for you, either. As the things in their lives come up they'll move where they need to be, and you should too, rejoicing in the times that you have back together, and the chance occurrences that bring you to the same places.
I'm reminded of another platitude: "Change the things I cannot abide, abide the things I cannot change."
We're so lucky. So impossibly goddamn lucking it's impossible to overstate. Do you realize how much we can change? You and I live in a society (with —so— many other problems, lest we forget) where we can live in New York or a farm and kiss many people or one and be one gender or another and espouse any outlook and follow it to it's logical conclusion, and we live with the resources and lack of restraints that make any one of those options possible. Other people, in this place, in other places, have far fewer things at their option to change, and thus must abide. But they may be happier, because the choice is forced, and they don't have as large of a graveyard of closed doors behind them. They were never there to begin with.
So go on through, changing the things you can't abide and abiding the things you can't change. It's hard, and the things we exclude will hurt, but it's worth it.
Friday, June 7, 2013
I've always noticed your lack of attachment to things. It seemed, while you were younger, that you would bounce from identity to identity, skill set to skill set, person to person, place to place, exploring, and then moving on. It's a normal part of youth, but it worried me, somewhat. I don't know why. Maybe it was because I've always been too attached, to monogamous, too sensitive.
Anyway, I think part of the grief and terror that you were expressing this morning comes out of the change that happens as you get attached. Feeling something is an investment, and investments can mean a weight and an urgency and a shackle. But I contend that in order to truly feel, in order to truly love, in order for life to have meaning, you have to have that investment. It's a worthwhile trade, even if means that when things don't go according to plan, you hurt.
It makes me proud of you, even as getting older tries us both.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
"More than money, we feel we've been introduced or reconnected with a global community of people who want to fight for a better world. We're so grateful that you're with us. We want to use this time, while we're connected, to fill the air with inspiring stories, stories that push your movements forward, stories that bring our movements together."
Now I wanted to share with you some of the more fun images that I created in this digital blitzkrieg. I'm no designer, so these assignments were even more fun of a challenge as a result.
My favorite image has to be this Egyptian nationalist remix of Delacroix:
There were whimsical images that underline the international and technological spirit of this project. Here Producer Avram Ludwig holds a computer Skyping in our Egyptian Director and Producer to a New York loft with a random Murikami painting in the background.
Finally, the Stencil. Based on the street art of Keizer in Cairo, I mocked it up in 10 minutes before a flight, for better or for worse, and sent it to our printer. It's become the sticker, t-shirt logo, and viral stencil we circulated to spread solidarity for the egyptian revolution. Who knew!
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
A calm, aerial camera follows an atrocity in the midst of a chaotic crowd, a nighttime riot in Cairo. We are informed that one woman, in a knot of dozens of men, is being sexually assaulted. It is impossible to ascertain this from the video alone*, but the reactions of the men around her certainly support this conclusion. The chilling thing is that while the many of the dozens of men around her don't support this violence, the violence still takes place. In public. With thousands of people around. Gang-raping a woman has nothing to do with the goals of a people's struggle, yet it happened.
In times where rule of law breaks down, traditional power dynamics are scrapped. This moment has great revolutionary potential. The unfortunate reality is that other power inequalities emerge. If the people protesting, collectively, are not able to protect the people who are made vulnerable by those power inequalities, then they lose valuable support of those disenfranchised, and the atrocity itself stands to undermine their movement.
In Egypt, groups like OpAntiSH, and individuals like Aida El Kashef (featured in The Square!) are fighting against this violence, both because it is unacceptable and because it undermines the people's struggle. Support them, and if you're elsewhere, emulate them.
*It can be assumed that OpAntiSH did their homework and followed up with this woman and closer witnesses after the video was shot. If that is not the case, I apologize for misinformation.
Monday, February 4, 2013
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Salt Lake City, where I'm from, is largely white, no surprises there, but interesting to see how the freeway I-15, which cuts through the city, demarcates the hispanic communities to the northwest of downtown. Otherwise it is fairly unsegregated, for its lack of diversity.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Thursday, December 27, 2012
DD: Where did you film and how did those spots come about?
Seigel-Boettner: We filmed one story in Zambia, one in Ghana, one in India, one in Guatemala and one in Southern California. I worked with Project Rwanda and I'd gone to the Interbike trade show a couple of times to represent them. That's where I found out about World Bicycle Relief (WBR), the project that we filmed in Zambia that's now all over sub-Saharan Africa, probably the biggest bike development project out there. I knew that there were probably other projects like them around the world, to find them I literally spent a month during my senior year Googling "bike project —pick a country—." I sent an introductory letter to project directors, the ones that responded narrowed down the spreadsheet a little bit more, and then sat down and looked at themes. We knew we wanted a story related to education, one related to healthcare, hopefully several relating to women's empowerment.
Friday, December 21, 2012
I do think fondly of the time he spent on this planet; I value the imprint he left on me, and will use his constellation to aspire to do my best. I hope those he loved feel the same.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
This is Alex Garzerro on his rolly-scooter, decked out for Santacon and barreling home to Brooklyn over the Williamsburg bridge. He shattered his ankle a few years back and checked in for some reconstructive surgery on the pins a week ago.
Not to be deterred, he strapped his leg to his rolly scooter and headed out to Santacon, where he reports being a hit. More impressive was his trek home. "I feel pretty awesome right now," he said, "it doesn't really hurt at all." At this point he's been pushing since Union Square. "I didn't want to hail a taxi or take the G train. Hopping down the stairs seemed like a drag. Also I haven't ridden my bike for a week... This is my favorite bridge, I kinda wanted to get back rolling."
Alex then took off up the pedestrian path at a good clip.
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