The Lightning Field, Part 1

Posted on May 26, 2017

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Visiting Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field is like going to an event. You might know the framework, but you can’t predict the exact experience. So after some fortunate advance planning (I read about visitors waiting 10+ years for schedules to align) and a journey into Western New Mexico, I stand with my main art friend and four other overnight visitors in an isolated cabin next to a grid of 400 polished stainless steel poles. A simple framework.

We congregate on the back porch of the cabin. Clear skies, no lightning expected. In the washed-out afternoon light the poles blend into the high desert landscape. Wind comes and goes, loud then silent. Rabbits scurry from beneath the cabin, a few cows stroll in the distance. Without connectivity to the outside world, time seems to slow. Walking the field brings the scope and scale to life. One mile by one kilometer, 220 feet between poles. It seems we’ve seen it. Time to chat.

But the field is not done…at the golden hour the light changes and the poles catch the sunset. The sharp polished tips begin to glow white. Silver torches. Then poles fully illuminate. Bright gold and deep orange tubes. The field becomes Flavin. Sunset fades, the air cools, and we gather back at the cabin. Did you see that!?!

 

Click here for Part 2.

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Future You

Posted on January 8, 2017

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My best personal planning occurs when I consider the context of my situation – past, present, future – and act in the best interest of my future self. In its simplest form it’s asking, will I tomorrow be pleased with the decisions I make today? Especially as New Year’s resolutions start to fade into post-holiday realities, I encourage you to plan – and progress – the optimal future you.

The Past

Recognize the connection of past decisions to present situations. Personal histories in health, in education, in career, in relationships, etc. are too frequently rationalized in hindsight, rather than fully related to the present. In financial hardships, for example, the real villain is often the victim’s past self. The point is not to beat yourself up over past decisions, it’s to recognize how your decisions impact your situation. As one of my colleagues likes to say, life is not a series of independent events.

“These are but shadows of the things that have been.” –Ghost of Christmas Past

The Future

Your future is a chance to begin again. The future you will have a personal history that includes where you are today plus the decisions you make up until the next point you look back. Even with a debilitating illness, you can embrace a version of yourself that you positively influence. Take ownership of your future self.

“You are what you choose to be tomorrow.” –James Altucher

The Present

This is where the work happens to create your future. Take one step at a time if dramatic transformation is difficult. As long as steps are in the desired direction, you’re making progress. Make mindful trade-offs between what you do and what you don’t do, between the present you and the future you.

“You have to participate in your own recovery.” –Gregg Popovich


Ask yourself – Where do I want to be in the future? How will I get there on an acceptable timeline? Are my decisions helping or hindering my future self? – and align your actions this year. The future you will appreciate it.

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The Lightning Field, Part 2

Posted on May 28, 2017

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Click here for Part 1.

“Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary.” -Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

We make the cabin our true home for the night, supplementing dinner with what we’ve brought to share – salad, sauce, drinks, conversation, perspectives, music, connections, and paths. In darkness we find ourselves lying in the field watching the light parade of stars, jetliners, and cigarettes before we scatter for bed.

Sunrise brings another golden hour, a quick breakfast, and multiple last looks at the field before our ride arrives on schedule but all-too-early at 11am. Returning to our cars in Quemado, we exchange contact information and best wishes for easing back into civilization – New York, LA, Santa Fe, our crowded ports of reentry. As my friend and I drive back through The Narrows toward I-40, we pass the gravel shoulder where we stopped for lunch yesterday. It feels like a week ago.

“And then you have to leave.” -Geoff Dyer, The New Yorker

 

To Corey, Dave, Mary Katherine, McClean, Jessi. The Lightning Field 5/24/17-5/25/17. Word.

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It’s Competitive

Posted on April 28, 2017

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Everything is competitive. Not in the sports sense with winners, losers and a score. Competitive in the sense of alternatives. When a team tells me their deal is sole-sourced, there is no competition for their client, or this is the only option, I’m very skeptical. Do nothing is an alternative. Tomorrow is an alternative. Doing it alone is an alternative. There’s a varied sequence to 1) yes, I need something, 2) yes, I need it now, 3) yes, I will pay for it, 4) yes, I’ll buy it from you.

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Compensation Required

Posted on April 21, 2017

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I found myself in a moment of reflection relating to the dichotomy in the quote below. I get paid to do paperwork, I’d help clients for free. The administrative activities are the grind, the distraction, and the de-motivator. Solving an interesting problem, satisfying an intellectual curiosity, crafting a clear message, learning and teaching useful things…those are fun. Throw in a good team dinner, and some days I would do it for free. Don’t tell my boss.

“They pay me to practice. Sundays I play for free.” –Greg Buttle

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Double Negative

Posted on April 16, 2017

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In 1969, artist Michael Heizer began displacing 240,000 tons of rock in a Nevada mesa. Dynamiting two facing trenches across a canyon, he cut downward into the earth, contrasting both the canyon ridge and physical art structures built upward into the sky. When he finished in 1970, he left behind negative space in the landscape and one of his first monumental earthworksDouble Negative.

Nearly fifty years later I wait alone in the darkness above the mesa, listening to the wind and watching for sunrise. As dawn breaks over the desert, I hike into the North cut and toward the Virgin River below. Sometimes it’s not what you add, it’s what you strip away.

“There is nothing there, yet it is still a sculpture.” –Michael Heizer

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