Four seasons ever-turning, four generations and counting, four truly inspiring days for us at the Potomac Vegetable Farms in Virginia. Here seasons and decades come and pass while the values and ethics strike roots deeper and deeper.
walking in a maze of my own make,
the walls keep shifting with every step I take.
put it down, lay it out, then
pick it up, confront the doubt.
A few years back we saw a small, enchanting indie film called “Liberal Arts.
(A 35 years old Jesse returns to his college for his favorite professor’s retirement party. On the way out, he takes a trip down memory lane and stumbles upon a fairy-student, Zibby, in a dorm party. Zibby studies acting and decides to take on the first rule of her improv course – say yes – to the next level.)
The story line is simple and familiar in a way, but there its inner beauty lies. It shines of little truths, of precious moments, of naive passion to live life to the fullest, of optimism and joy. Not because it is childish or unaware of harsh realities, but because it chooses to say yes in the face of worry, criticism, darkness, loneliness, cynicism and doubt. It chooses to say yes in spite of the fears, as a remedy to the soul, as an act of trust and gratefulness.
That little yes was among the first seeds of this phase of this project.
This was a long and fruitful day in which we spotted endless street corners, peeling doorways, crumbling brick walls and other urban textures.
Among the beauty and neglect of Bushwick we bumped into the inspiring and prolific street artist, Sara Erenthal. Sara joined our wandering path and shared her favorite spots. All and all it was a good day.
Homing pigeons were sent and awaited for, all over the globe, for many a year. Pretty much the same pigeons that we see everyday.
They share our cities, they dot our skies, they peck at our pavements, they are everywhere, high or low, literally. And we – two legged creatures – have been fascinated with them since forever. Their ability to fly away yet always find the way home, over extremely long distances, is a true gift.
We place our yarn birds in various locations for various reasons – some are there to go on and migrate, some to stay and nest, some to soar and take the sky to an unexpected place. They come in flocks or by themselves, pair of a feather or one winged soul. But that basic idea and old fascination remains the same – they represent freedom and hope, a longing for adventure. They reflect a common earthly struggle: the tension between where we are and where we wish to be, what holds us back and what makes us fly.
The Bushwick sky was full of circulating flocks, flying back and forth from a specific building. On its rooftop we spotted a man waving a flag. Another pigeon keeper in a long line that dates back 3,000 years of history.
Some days you just got to go out and do it.
The first step towards healing is acknowledging the wound.
On the edge of town, on the edge of a lush forest, stands an old wall. In the middle of that wall there is a wooden board covering an ancient doorway. Simple and closed. Simply closed. Where it leads, no one knows. It felt like a fairy tale, so we left a key hole with a red thread. Perhaps one day someone will come along, someone that can pull that red-thread and enter the magical garden that lies beyond.
But beware of the cat-bat that guards it day and night.
On the way to Woodstock NY,
right at the intersection where a right turn from a winding country road
leads off to a narrower and windier country road, this abandoned shed beckoned.
Screeching cicadas above in the treetops, serene and still pond at our feet,
merciless kamikaze mosquitoes everywhere in-between.
So how does Serendipity lead us on this one year journey?
Lessons in intentional randomness.
The leading force of our project is serendipity, which means the places we go and people we meet are not planned
but rather are conjured through initiating random yet meaningful interaction with people we meet on the road.
In turn they send us to that place we must see, thing we must eat, cousin we must meet if we happen to be in…
We put ourselves in the hands of lady luck, let ourselves be bounced in the great pinball machine of life
and commit to a 24/7 artistic process inspired by all this.
Prologue: We went to Boston to meet the sister of a dear friend for breakfast
and ended up staying at her place for the night.
On the second day, we accompanied her for a concert she played at an assisted-living home.
As she wrapped up her gig, she surprisingly introduced us and the project to the elderly congregation
and a brief Mind the Heart presentation and Q&A commenced.
Afterwards, a few amazing and truly inspiring old ladies approached, in turns, to dive deeper into this.
One asked if we were Buddhists. Another suggested we should go to Woodstock NY and meet Marc at City Hall.
So to Woodstock we drove (through Worcester, to meet a couple of Buddhists,
only as we arrived unannounced at the temple door on the weekend, it turned out that they’re all the way in Denmark).
Now, it turns out that Woodstock does not have a City Hall. Instead, after some searching,
we found a couple of wooden huts/offices at the end of a climbing road on the edge of a forest.
We went into the second of those in search of Marc. Marc wasn’t there, but Bill was.
Bill was weary at first of these two strange artists who have come wandering into his office but warmed up quickly,
told some stories of the wonders and quirks of the town and even recommended spots where we could sort-of-legally park overnight.
We gave Bill a heart.
Epilogue: Marc was actually in the first office-hut. Marc also got a heart.
Turns out that Marc doesn’t really know the elderly lady who sent us from Boston.
Also turns out that Bill is the Mayor (in Woodstock it’s actually: Supervisor) of Woodstock.
Trees are resilient creatures, as they move cyclically between a death-like state to lush life. This specific magnificent specimen, its branches reaching high and mighty into the cloudy sky above, was a living proof of how inspiring nature can be. From our point of view, us short humans, it was completely blackened from within. A thick bark engulfing an empty black hole. How can this possibly be the basis for this thriving giant with its green vibrant canopy?
The city is a living organism of which we are a part, influencing and being influenced simultaneously. It is not just an urban grid, but a network of life that inhabits a given space – buildings, people, air, pollution, roads, cars, pavements, footsteps.
Nature is a living organism of which we are a part, influencing and being influenced simultaneously. It is not just a patch of land, but a habitat in which life moves around, stands still, lives – ants, leaves, wind, grass, hooves, wings, clouds.
We are but a vessel. Following a thread of an idea, a myriad of red strings, hopes and dreams, veins and muscles that connect us to the thought of who we are, and then to the concrete ground and back again. On and on. When a glimpse of an image catches on, it travels that path – inward and outward, manifests itself into a line, into a life unfolding in space. This tree was torn apart, but I believe that it is whole nonetheless. Connected from stem to broken trunk by invisible lines of life and death.
We headed south to Boston for a breakfast rendezvous with the (wondrous) sister of a dear (and wondrous) friend from back home and ended up staying a couple of nights at her place. Her hospitality facilitated numerous chance encounters and leads for our journey – from a radiant English Literature Professor to an awe-inspiring Palestinian peace activist to a very elderly but extremely sharp art critique to a Buddhist temple and eventually to the Mayor/Supervisor’s office in Woodstock NY, where that particular thread tapered off. Some of these people and stories you can already see on other posts on this blog or on the ever-growing Community Hearts page. The others will probably join in the future. But back to the Boston sister. Behind the house there is small garden, a serene and simple place where some plants are grown intentionally and others burst from the compost infused ground. As we prepared to get back on the road, our host and the garden gifted us with an offering of mint, basil and grapevine leaves that have vastly improved our culinary experiences in the days since.
We are grateful to both.
Off the recommendation of a girl from Boston whom we met at the edge of a peninsula in NH
and with a mistaken assumption that we could get breakfast here,
we arrived at this cool fermentation joint in Portland ME serving a plethora of tasty fermented liquid concoctions.
A few Saturday morning beverages later, but unconnected to that fact, we offered the guy at the bar to create a wall-piece for them.
be longing. belonging.
This is what we felt here. At that moment we felt this was just about the place, the vibe, the communal sense of it.
But looking back and writing this, I wonder if it’s not also about the two of us,
flying far from home, always staying connected to our source but always carrying on, putting faith in letting go,
belonging to the longing for the interactions and creations, always new but all connected to the one great source
from which all is drawn.
Driving in search for breakfast, somewhere in the White Mountains region,
an abandoned piano called us from the side of the road.
A quick U-turn and we heeded its call, stopping at a deserted shop-plaza and lot.
It was a beautiful thing, still, even with its guts laid bare for the mountain winds and rains.
Hesitantly we pressed a key and were startled by a loud and clear note that pierced the morning silence
and sailed across the empty lot, onto the road, onward.
A few more notes and we were off on our way, but we left our heart there
as a quiet companion to the unheard music of the piano’s soul.
“time will tell”.
Deep in the White Mountains of New Hampshire,
where the moose are elusive and the moss is ever-present.
Our first day on the road in our mobile home/studio.
A day full of gut feelings & intuitions, truly inspiring human encounters, new experiences,
great unknowns, winding roads, thunderstorms, aligning fear to faith, trusting it all,
minding our hearts.
You are all invited to Come take part in a worldwide public-art project!
Starting this week in Portsmouth, NH –
This Friday 28th July, at Prescott Park Arts Festival, 4pm-6pm (right before the concert)
and a following exhibition opening at 3S Gallery on August 7th, 5pm.
Scroll down to find the details
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see more at: mindtheheart.org/hearts
and reserve your heart at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Still just touching down on this side of the ocean and preparing for Friday’s event,
we took a few hours to wander and happened upon an abandoned boat by an abandoned pier and an intimate,
wind swept shore that revealed the first perfect spots for a heart…
To participate, meet us at the park and get a yarn-heart. With this heart you also get a simple, fun and mindful mission: to venture outside with an open mind, wandering eyes and a curious heart and look for spots of beauty in your neighborhood.
After you choose the spot for your heart – take a photo of it in the location and send it to us along with a couple of sentences explaining the significance of the spot. Any reason is a good and valid reason –
be it the place where you first kissed or a spot with an interesting texture.
This Friday at Prescott Park, we will also take your photo along with your heart.
On August 7th, an exhibition will open at 3S Gallery, presenting your images and texts
(which will also appear on the project’s website and social media).
The exhibition forms a multifaceted display of perspectives that highlight points of beauty and importance as experienced through the eyes and souls of one’s neighbors.
On the shore of one of numerous heavenly isles
off the Maine coast, off the main road,
beside a building scorched by fire so as to resemble a black-scaled dragon,
lays a gloriously white vessel in eternal battle with a raging vegetation sea.