marginfades

The joy of movement. Words. Food & memory.

The Fairy and The Businessman

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Another Halloween’s come and gone, and I still clearly remember last year’s eager trick-or-treater angling for another fistful of candy.

“Do you mind if I take another?” she asked with conviction.

Hers was a simple yet clever costume: a pair of fairy wings much too large for her frame, and matching eye shadow, plus a smear of you’re-far-too-young-for-that-color lipstick.  She was the older of the trick-or-treating duo – and as I looked over her diminutive companion, I realized they looked far too much alike to be anything other than sisters.

Her hand was already reaching for candy bowl, after rooting through with swift, practiced thoroughness to retrieve two handfuls of the treats that she preferred – the first for little sister, the second for her.  I was indignant yet amused: this winged sprite, no more than 8 or 9 at best, knew exactly what she wanted.  She treated herself to as much as she could scoop up, single-handedly.  It was no more than others had taken, and no less than I expected.

She smiled with her lips and watched carefully with her eyes – and came in for another handful during my moment of hesitation.  Another two, actually: another one for her younger sister, and then for herself.  All the while a smile, and perfunctory expressions of thanks.

I stood there staring, wondering whether I was indignant at her presumption, or in awe of her deft negotiation.  Both, I decided.

A neighbor who witnessed the entire encounter remarked that “those people” came into our neighborhoods because “they” couldn’t get candy in their own neighborhood.  My retort was that at least she dressed up and asked politely for what she wanted, and got it.   There were costume-less teenagers from our neighborhood who simply held out trash bags, zombie-like, with an expectation of candy.  I half-wished I had turned away: shouldn’t I get the treat of seeing a costume, no matter how haphazard or simple?

And I still had enough candy for the evening – just  far less than I expected.  If everything my neighbor perceived about this little girl were true, then she was doing her best for first her sibling then herself with the best tools and circumstances she had – and doing so with a certain panache.  In the end, I reflected that the only problem I had with the situation was her precocious panache.  I didn’t expect such social dexterity in a child so young.

If she wields it well, she’ll go far.

***

A month ago, I found myself in a crowded security line, waiting to take a plane home.  Ahead of me was a woman: short, neatly attired, with no sense of glamor.  She looked careworn, yet stood ramrod straight.  Behind me was a businessman: at least 6 foot in his height, suited, cool demeanor.

We each emptied our belongings into bins and onto the conveyer, and the woman ahead of me and I moved back a few steps to take our turn through the detectors.  The businessman moved straight to the detector, and went through, after a brief backward glance at the line.  It seemed in that moment he realized that he’d jumped a line that he was unaware of: a quirk of his eyebrow acknowledged us, as if in apology.

But he went through.  And no one stopped him – not the woman in front of me, and not I.  It only struck me after he went through that perhaps I could have done the same.  And yet, my politeness and social consciousness kicks in.

***

For context, understand that each of these situations lasted at most 30 seconds.  They’re mere moments in time, hardly enough for the average person to react and redirect the course of situation, especially where strangers one will never encounter again are involved in interaction.

What I will remember about the airport a year from now is that the businessman went through anyway, with a spur-of-the-moment, implied apology.  What I will remember about the young trick-or-treater is her boldness.   Each presumed, with a certain politeness and poise.

Social conditioning and thought-leaders suggest that I will remember the trick-or-treater long after I forget the businessman because of her gender, her race, her age.  He’ll be admired for doing as he should; she’ll be lucky if she’s not judged as grasping and aggressive.

Written by marginfades

November 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm

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Despair, Deliberation

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There’s too much noise of my own choosing – as in, I am choosing distraction in all its forms.  Deliberately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By lo.re.n.zo.

What I need is quiet for my mind and soul, and activity for my body.  I choose exactly the opposite – safe, and easy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Jinho.Jung

Finding and holding my threshold of courage takes continual practice – daily, every moment – to repeatedly overcome, and gaining the momentum of deliberation.

Written by marginfades

May 15, 2012 at 9:17 am

Watering Hole

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Going to the public pool with my family was the beginning of my weekend, rain or shine, snow or sun.  It was socialization with built-in barriers: whether floating on my back or diving deep, my family was close by, and I was left to my thoughts in the depths.

Friday evening swims came to an end when Dad noticed the families dwindling, and the number of unattended teenagers showing up.  They were mostly good kids, but he couldn’t help but notice the boys’ horseplay, and the girls dry as a bone, draped over their towels without any other modest covering.

We never went swimming once I came of age, and I always thought it was because I had too much school work.  I never did enjoy a pool or beach party, after those Fridays.  Pool games, burgers and beer, and basking on a towel or in the water was fun – but what I really needed were compatriots who enjoyed the quiet gurgle of the underwater view, or the blue of the sky, endless as I watched from my float.

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May 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Slow Motion

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In our fast-paced life, I wonder if recreational rail excursions will gain popularity – such as the cross-country Amtrak trek Meg Keene recently embarked upon to promote her first published work (she shared the last leg of it with her husband, and they both enjoyed the experience.)

Travel by train’s never been America’s thing – road trips have.  Train journeys are more European, and even Asian – in fact it’s said that third-class rail travel is the only way to really experience India.

It’s a gem of brilliance that Bhi Bhiman chose Samuel Jeffrey’s point of view – primarily, from a train berth’s window, occasionally run in slow motion – to accompany the plaintive melody of his ballad Gutternsipe. It’s not at all how you would experience a train journey: picking up speed, scenery and people eventually pass you by.  And it’s not at all India, where time doesn’t stop.  

Perhaps that’s why it’s an important backdrop to this song – without any sense of home, Bhiman seems to find it in the moments in between a boy skipping along an empty line and each stroke of a the sweep’s broom.

Written by marginfades

May 12, 2012 at 7:57 pm

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“The Luxury of Slowness”

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I have watched Tishani Doshi‘s TEDxPalermo talk at least once every day ever since my dance guru shared it with me – and each time, I’ve watched it two to three times in succession. (This has been going on for about a week now.)

Every time I review it, different elements of the speech move me (to emotion – and there’s very little in art or thought that does so). I wonder:

Is slowness the last real luxury we have left, as Doshi states?
Is touching time even possible?
(Would touching time be full Realization, or perhaps just the beginning of Release?)

One particular idea Doshi emphasizes is the idea of exploration during the slower tempo of classical Indian music: the vilambit, during which no lyrics are sung, only sounds of a raga‘s particular ascendance and descendance of sounds.

Which reminds me of a time during my childhood when I learned and practiced such music. With repetition came an eventual flow of practice, especially during alaap (introduction to the raga). Singing an introduction to the classical key signature was a time that I grew to relish: unbound by a beat (which I paradoxically loved, reverberating as it did from a tabla), my mind and heart connected, soared. I sang with abandon and feeling, which are their own ornaments.

Doshi concludes with the thought that if we learn to inhabit slowness, we can make the most of our own crescendos. Early morning practice sessions and weekend lessons with a well-sung alaap formed many a connection between random bits of information floating around mind, and brought clarity and purpose to replace any bit of doubt.

The mornings I that I awakened just a bit earlier than my alarm for an extra-long practice session before school, I went even deeper within myself with those connections and clarity. The day to follow was always like honey: a slow, measured pour, accelerating into smooth certainties.

Written by marginfades

May 10, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Contentment

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In a recent essay titled “The Joy of Quiet” travel writer Pico Iyer finds contentment through focus – some might call it (self)absorption:

Nothing makes me feel better — calmer, clearer and happier — than being in one place, absorbed in a book, a conversation, a piece of music. It’s actually something deeper than mere happiness: it’s joy, which the monk David Steindl-Rast describes as “that kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.”

…it’s only by having some distance from the world that you can see it whole, and understand what you should be doing with it.

Written by marginfades

May 9, 2012 at 11:26 pm

A Quiet Place

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The place to find is within yourself. The athlete…in top form has a quiet place within himself, and it’s around this, somehow, that his action occurs…this is true in dance as well. There’s a center of quietness within, which has to be known and held.

“The Power of Myth,” by Joseph Campbell

 

 

Written by marginfades

May 8, 2012 at 7:27 am

Posted in Margins Fade, Motion

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