What remained was our essence

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Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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 remains…


In a time of crisis, focus on Why not When

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Isaac Wendland on Unsplash

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.

There are countless stories of hostages who mark down the days until their freedom. According to Frankl, those that live for an unspecified future survive. Those that believe that their salvation will arrive on a specific day — by Christmas, by the end of the year — are doomed. …


On Writing Fast and Writing Slow

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Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

It took Rodgers and Hammerstein six months to write The Sound of Music;
It took Lin-Manuel Miranda seven years to write Hamilton.

At the conclusion of the Hamilton film, Disney+ suggests The Sound of Music as the next show we might enjoy.

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. …


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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 to makes Portland who we are. …


Calming your mind when meditation isn’t working

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Oriento on Unsplash

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 for happiness. …


It only took four minutes and thirty-three seconds to re-connect with my life.

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Francisco Moreno on Unsplash

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.

“For we should be hushed and silent”

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.

Krenz reminds us of a curious piece of music by 20th Century composer John Cage, called 4’33’’ (Four minutes and thirty-three seconds) written in 1952. …


Timeless ideas from the author of Walden

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Wikimedia Commons

“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, making him less of a “pure” hermit than advertised. I’ve always found that line of criticism curious. If you read Walden, Thoreau never makes claims of becoming a hermit at all. …


Virtual Arts and Culture Experiences to ease your quarantine

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Josep Molina Secall on Unsplash

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.

With your help, I will continue to update this post as I know about more. …


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Fear in the time of Coronavirus

“You know what’s worse than the virus — the anxiety”- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, March 7, 2020

300 million Americans have now succumbed to the epidemic. Not the Coronavirus, mind you.

No, I mean the far greater epidemic sweeping the land: The Anxiety Epidemic.

It seems we’ve all been exposed.

By now you’ve read all of the official CDC guidelines on protecting yourself from the virus. I thought it would be helpful to provide a few guidelines on protecting yourself from the far more contagious Anxiety Epidemic:

  1. Limit Exposure to the news feeds. Stick to official government and health websites for updates that might impact your life. These official channels provide facts. The news provides facts wrapped in phrases like “Alarming” and “Rising fears” and “Outbreak.” News outlets are businesses and those phrases may help sell them clicks, but they don’t help you stay safe. …

Coping with loss by accepting how little we know

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All Photos by Andrew Recinos

I begin with two statements:

1. what we believe is different from what we know.

2. What we know is minuscule compared with what we don’t know.

What we believe is different from what we know.

Philosophers since before Socrates have tried to unpick belief vs. knowledge. Perhaps the most famous distillation comes from Descartes who finally declared that the only thing he could definitively know was his own sentience:

I think, therefore I am.

Everything else was unknowable and subject only to varying intensities of belief. Beyond the philosophers, the difference between knowledge and belief can be easily explained. …

About

Andrew Recinos

Fellow Human. World Traveler. Husband. Dad. Son. Culturephile. @andrewrecinos

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