Prior to 2020, I racked up 100,000 air miles every year. I was that guy: the business traveller with all the perks, breezing through security on my way to the airline lounge. Insufferable.
Then for 400 days I didn’t set foot in an airport. All of my travel muscles atrophied. I became the Tin Man of Business Travel. Recently, as I prepared for my first flight after being frozen so long, my mom joked “do you still know how to travel?” We had a good laugh.
It turns out the answer was “no.”
The morning of the flight, I was…
An old friend and I were on a long stroll when our discussion unexpectedly erupted. Months of constant anxiety had left us raw and brittle and emotional exhaustion produced a rare blow-up lasting several city blocks. The pandemic does this to people.
Words exchanged, we walked on in seething silence until we arrived at our destination — an old city cemetery. It had been my idea to walk there in the first place, as it had become a personal refuge since the early days of the pandemic.
My friend and I (still seething, still silent), passed through the large iron…
What remained was our essence
It was a year of drama without theater
A year of art without galleries
Dining without restaurants
Learning without schools
Faith without churches
Love without hugs
X without Y
It was a year of withouts
Press a flower in a book for long enough and the moisture leeches away.
Press a flower in a book and the color fades, too.
Even a once sturdy flower becomes fragile, the vein architecture pronounced, each contour in stark relief.
Press a flower in a book for hundreds of years and it remains a flower.
Drama without a theater…
In his seminal book Man’s Search for Meaning, famed psychologist Viktor Frankl explores traits of people who are able to withstand years of crisis.
His central thesis can be summarized by Nietzsche:
“he who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”.
Frankl suggests that in the midst of extremely difficult times, we “can only live by looking to the future — sub specie aeternitatis.” Having a “why” to live for becomes our “salvation in the most difficult moments of existence.”
But there’s a catch: Live for the future, Frankl tells us, but don’t set a date.
It took Rodgers and Hammerstein six months to write The Sound of Music;
It took Lin-Manuel Miranda seven years to write Hamilton.
On the day the film premiered, Lin-Manuel Miranda noticed:
Hamilton and The Sound of Music.
I love both of ’em. And I smiled at the jarring contrast. …
The COVID-19 crisis has devastated the Portland performing arts industry. While other industries are beginning to re-open, live performing arts falls into the Oregon Health Authority Phase 3:
Mass gatherings such as major concerts or sporting events with live audiences will require a reliable treatment or vaccine to be available.
… will require a reliable treatment or vaccine….
These organizations are struggling to survive right now- and will continue to struggle for months.
National arts unemployment is estimated at 40% and rising.
Our town is filled with a vibrant ecosystem of small, medium and large cultural organizations, contributing so much…
Once again my mind was trying to devour itself at 4 am. Once again it was awash with a slurry of unfinished thoughts and unfounded worries.
All my usual techniques for quieting the chatter had failed. So, I admitted defeat, got out of bed and padded into the kitchen.
I didn’t want to read, I couldn’t sleep, and emptying the dishwasher would wake up the whole house.
Or would it?
Have you ever tried emptying a dishwasher completely silently?
The seminal book Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi investigates the science of the “optimal experience” as a way to provide a blueprint…
The thought of another video call made me want to weep (apparently I wasn’t alone).
I had lost my ability to concentrate on words (apparently I wasn’t alone in this either).
Television? I realized I had done so much binge-watching, I wanted to purge.
After so many weeks of feeling exhausted, was starting to get exhaustion fatigue.
At this moment, I tried reading again, and stumbled upon this blog post by Karissa Krenz, the Senior Editor for WQXR.org (New York City’s classical music station.)
It is, simply, perfect.
“Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.”
Centers for Disease Control, 2020
“I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
Henry David Thoreau, 1845
Starting in 1845, American naturalist Henry David Thoreau spent two years living alone in a small cabin of his own making near the shores of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. His most famous work, Walden, is the output of that time.
Many modern critics are quick to point out that Thoreau walked into town frequently and had plenty of visitors…
The updated version of this post, and all of the links, can now be found on my company’s website:
As arts and culture organizations around the world are shutting their doors due to COVID-19, some are providing opportunities for the public to experience their craft remotely.
The goal in putting together this collection is simple: as humans around the world engage in social distancing, arts and culture can help shorten that distance, lift up our spirits, and bring joy to our homes.
Fellow Human. World Traveler. Husband. Dad. Son. Culturephile. @andrewrecinos