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22 January 2014

Enjoying What You Do

I read this on the subway ride home yesterday evening: Navigating Stuckness, by Jonathan Harris.

“In life, you will become known for doing what you do. That sounds obvious, but it’s profound. If you want to be known as someone who does a particular thing, then you must start doing that thing immediately. Don’t wait. There is no other way. It probably won’t make you money at first, but do it anyway. Work nights. Work weekends. Sleep less. Whatever you have to do. If you’re lucky enough to know what brings you bliss, then do that thing at once. If you do it well, and for long enough, the world will find ways to repay you.”

As I walked home – snow falling, unplowed streets, an unnatural quiet for the city, and drifts piling high on the stoops of the brownstones – I felt blessed about the friends and office I had left earlier that day, and blessed with what I was going home to. Doing “that thing” immediately? I feel like I’m pretty close to finding that “bliss” and enjoyment.

I enjoy the work I do and I enjoy what it allows me to create. I enjoy the city I live in and the opportunities it has provided me. I enjoy the river outside my door, and the beaches and mountains a short drive away. I enjoy the people I share my life with. I enjoy the home I’ve created and I enjoy the wife, love, and friend I come home to.

It’s basically a version of Jonathan’s description below:

“When I think about my own future, my dream is always the same. I’m living in a small beautiful farmhouse in a small beautiful town among a small community that values me. I’m living with a wife and kids I love deeply, and I spend each day making art and watching nature. My mind is clear and calm, I’m in control of my time, and I’m kind.”


6 January 2014

Resolution

My resolution this year could be considered a followup to last years, “ought to’s, got to’s, and like to’s.”

Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
- Benjamin Franklin

I read that and thought back to a passage I read in Steinbeck a while ago. We all have a choice. We have to tread water, but we can choose to either sit there and tread, or we can choose (resolve) to swim in some direction. As Steinbeck explained in East of Eden, within Genesis and the story of Cain and Abel there are very important phrases…’thou shalt’ and ‘do thou.’ What gets forgotten is ‘Thou mayest’. ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’

The american Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel - ‘Thou mayest’ – that gives a choice. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on man. Why that makes a man great, that give him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course, fight it through, and win.”

The big point is that I have the choice to choose my own course and resolve to act on this course. I resolve to do what I “ought,” knowing that I will prosper. His voice says,

“Forget the former things; do not dwell in the past. See, I am doing a new thing! For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…”
Jeremiah 29:11

 


7 December 2013

Paris

We recently returned from a holiday trip to Paris. Given that this was our third visit to the city, this was the first time Paris had the feeling of being a ‘home.’ (I still harbor a not so secret hope of living in Paris for at least a couple of years.) We recognized landmarks on our drive into the city, we stayed at the same hotel, and we were able to spend more time lingering around our favorite areas. There was no set itinerary of museums to visit or sights to see. Only a list of boulangeries and cafes to lazily spend the days at.

We were even asked for directions, in French.

While we were there, we were frequently making comparisons to our routine in New York and it reminded me of a quote I once read by Woody Allen: “When I am in New York, I want to be in Europe, and when I am in Europe, I want to be in New York.”

I wouldn’t say I was wanting to return to New York, but the comparison between our two ‘homes’ was easier to make this trip. With the familiarity we felt this time around, I wondered which arrondissement best represented the Upper West Side. According to Vahram Muratyan, I live in the 15th. Pretty accurate, but being based near Luxembourg Gardens, I think the borders between the 15th and the 6th get a little fuzzy – the Upper West Side scale and the Greenwich Village character mixes a bit more in Paris.

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you have a good idea of what we were up to, but I did want to share a few of the images here. From our balcony we had an amazing view over Place Saint-Sulpice, the 6th, and the rest of western Paris. Why does every building, everywhere, not have French balconies? At the other end of the scale, I’ve always been fascinated with courtyards and passageways that led to private spaces. I must have lucked out, or was paying more attention, because we stumbled across several private enclaves and paths like Avenue Frochot. And even on a cloudy day, you can still see the structural grace of the Eiffel Tower.

Paris Saint Sulpice

Paris Avenue Frochot

Paris Eiffel Tower

During the past few months of early fall, I had been dreaming of Paris and getting both of us away from our routine here in New York. The trip was the perfect break, but sometimes you don’t always have the option of jet-setting it out. Sometimes you have to recall those romantic memories of the city and life you’re currently in. It was Henry Thoreau who said “I love best to have each thing in its season only, and enjoy doing without it at all other times.”

It’s fitting. This past week, the temperature in New York has been dropping and the holiday season is in full swing. Now that I’m back from my ‘home’ in Paris, I am enjoying “doing without it” and I can’t wait to discover New York all over again.

You can find more of my photography of Paris, and everything else I see here on VSCO, or here on Flickr.


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