This morning I went on a seven-mile walk from the apartment through Piedmont Park along the Beltline all the way to Krog Street Market and beyond, to where the sidewalk ends. The oppressive mugginess of an Atlanta July had already cast a stifling pall over the 7am haze. Even the sun seemed bleary-eyed and lethargic. Midtown was exploding vertically before my very eyes, the views in every direction obstructed by a spindly forest of scaffolding. The sounds of progress followed me around like a loyal pet. Everywhere construction projects jackhammered and drilled and bulldozed, accompanied by a chorus of smaller but no less arduous workers--the lawn-mowers, painters, roofers that kept the already-constructed establishments looking spiffy so as to delay their inevitable demolition in order to make way for newer, bigger, shinier iterations.

In a couple months I will look back on these days nostalgically, missing the time when I was able to take a leisurely two hour walk, slowing down the pace of life even as life around me rushed by at light speed. I used to be--let's face it, still am--so anxious about keeping up with other people, measuring myself by the yardstick of their accomplishments, viewing their successes as a sign of my own shortcomings. It's a toxic way of living. At the same time I was losing my sense of self and purpose, trying to fit into a prescribed mold that didn't suit me. Now, as I crest the hill toward the summit of a new decade and look back at the valley of my twenties, strewn with the rattlesnakes of bad decisions and scorpions of naive over-confidence and boulders upon endless boulders of undying hope, I understand that it's finally time to relinquish control. The more you try to control something, the more it evades you. The mountain remains constant, even as the cities around it spawn and spread and sprawl, an urban fungus of consumerism and light pollution. You should endeavor to reach the top of the mountain. But eventually you'll have to come back down.

I should go on walks more often.

#Atlanta #ruminations #illuminations

It's basic physics. An object at rest stays at rest. Until the days and weeks bleed into one another. Until the object begins to bleed into the furniture, desperately wishing to be a less definite state of matter, to ooze into the bedsheets or dissipate and dance among the dust motes so as to prolong the insurmountable task of peeling oneself out of bed and getting the day started.

Whether faced with a mountain of obligations or none, the reaction is always the same: no reaction. Inertia. Paralysis. Every day achieving the bare minimum levels of hygiene and exercise and nourishment deemed necessary to seem surface-level functional. Going through motions any time an outside force acts upon the object at rest, its kinetic deadlines and emails and (the horror) phone calls momentarily defibrillating the object into action. Otherwise, still. Static. Stagnant.

The object's days at rest are numbered, and the object doesn't know how to feel about this. On the one hand, the object has learned that, when left to its own devices, the object does not operate well with little to no structure. On the other hand, the object worries that, once it resumes a life of routine and busywork, sure, it will once again give the object's life a semblance of superficial meaning, but when all's said and done, isn't busyness, a la Kierkegaard, the sign of an unhappy, purposeless object?

So first, small steps. Make a list. Accomplish tasks. Rinse, repeat.

#resurgence #rebirth #stillness #motion #movement #rest

When I was a kid, practicing the piano was a chore. I always loved the final result, of performing in front of people, but the amount of work required to get there was done begrudgingly, with little enthusiasm. I wanted to be an artist, and then a writer. I spent hours every day in my room, filling up spiral-bound notebooks with pencil sketches and snippets of stories. I dabbled in acrylics, charcoals, pastels, and photography. I wrote the beginning of a sweeping epic fantasy novel with a strong female protagonist long before I knew what feminism was.

Once I decided to pursue music in college, my other artistic aspirations fell by the wayside. While I don't regret my career choice, a part of me has always missed that feeling of stretching my imagination in extra-musical ways. I started to wonder why artists today were so isolated in their own endeavors; I had no idea what my fellow creatives in the visual, literary, film, and dance fields were up to. I wanted to know.

At the same time, I was struggling with a crisis of entitlement. I had always felt music was a selfish life choice. Who was I to do what I loved all day long, with no regard to the bigger problems at hand? Was I really making a difference? All my life, I've been hearing about how classical music is dying, audiences aren't showing up, people are disinterested.

Soon it became clear to me that this couldn't be further from the truth. There is a huge audience out there; you just have to bring the show to them. We no longer live in an age where access to entertainment was available only to the moneyed and privileged few. So how can we keep approaching concerts the same way we did a hundred years ago? Why would anyone pay money to dress up and sit silently in a stuffy hall when Netflix exists?

The arts have a unique ability to unite people from every culture, creed, and class. A struggling single mother could benefit from getting lost in a Beethoven sonata just as much as, if not more than, her tech mogul counterpart. Children whose families and schools do not have the means to provide them an arts education are often the ones with the most to say, yet their voices have been stifled. American prisons are overflowing with people who have been told to relinquish their rights to beauty, humanity, and hope.

This is a broken system. Access to the arts is a fundamental human right, not a privilege. It is what separates man from beast; without it, we are merely animal.

© Copyright 2019 by Choo Choo Hu. All rights reserved. 

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