The ‘In-Between’

Tim Kreider.jpg

I recently read: ‘Life Is What Happens In-Between: For More and More Americans, Stability Exists Mostly in Memory’ by essayist and cartoonist Tim Kreider. So much resonates and it is simply a great read. Here are some highlights.

“My friend Robin grew up in an army family, and learned early on that she wasn’t going to live anywhere or know anyone for very long, that houses and schools and best friends were strictly provisional, temporary. Kids like me, with stabler lives, grew up secure in the delusion, fuzzy and comforting as a favorite blanket, that our homes and friends were givens, fixed forever. But, as Robin points out, transience wasn’t just a peculiarity of her own upbringing; it turns out to be the reality of life, for all of us. Everything is contingent, ephemeral; the flimsy little Potemkin villages of permanence and security we rig up for ourselves — real estate, possessions, tenure and retirement plans, circles of friends and long-term relationships — are easily demolished by layoffs, divorce, accidents, and diagnoses, or by non-metaphorical floods and hurricanes.”

“Even those periods we look back on as idylls of stability exist mostly in retrospect: when we’re in the middle of them they feel as blind and confusing as any other interval of our lives. “

“…my friend Harold and I were driving south on I-95 over the Susquehanna River, on our way down to Baltimore. Harold was in between, too, though he had not enough going on in his life, whereas I had too much. It had been a misty morning, but most of the moisture had burned off by then except for a dense fog bank that followed the contours of the river. As we drove out onto the bridge it was like flying into a cloud; we were completely enveloped in dewy gray blankness. Out in the middle of the bridge we could see neither the bank behind us nor the one ahead, only the bridge itself, a road stretched across nothingness, vanishing into obscurity in both directions. Up ahead of us a tattered banner of clarity was streaming out from the bridge’s edge where the mist split and furled around it. The Replacements were playing — “Alex Chilton,” which might, after all, be my favorite song in the world. We couldn’t see where we’d come from or where we were going but I was in the car with my best friend listening to a song we both loved and, inside that moment, everything was all right.“

Thanks to writer and artist Austin Kleon for this - check out his website and subscribe to his newsletter, always good stuff there.

Free play

FreePlay cover.jpg

I recently read 'Free Play - Improvisation in Life and Art' by Stephen Matchnanovitch, an improvisational violinist, author, computer artist and educator. Published in 1991, it's not a new book, but the right book at the right time for me. Much resonated. Two of many sections highlighted: "One of the many catch-22s in the business of creativity is that you can't express inspiration without skill, but if you are too wrapped up in the professionalism of skill you obviate the surrender to accident that is essential to inspiration. You begin to emphasize product at the expense of process." And on patience with one's work and process: "If we operate with a belief in long sweeps of time, we build cathedrals; if we operate from fiscal quarter to fiscal quarter, we build ugly shopping malls."