June 24, 2008
Of wood, water, and touch.
I like how the branches frame the sunset with a heart shape.
That’s the lure of this spot on the globe. It pulls at the emotions and possesses a serenity that will calm you, no matter what your day may have been like.
It’s hard to have a stressful day here.
The view above is what accompanied my eyes at dinner last night. Charles and I went over to our friend Mark’s magical indentation in the land on the northeast shoulder of the island. His home clings to rocks that cling to tree roots that cling to more rocks that cling to the sea. Water rhythms beat quietly under the deck and my gaze cannot help scanning beyond the humans next to me, out to an ever-shifting palette of space and color.
A brilliant entrepreneur and scholar, Mark is also a fabulous cook who takes the same care with every detail of an ingredient that I do with each detail of a note. Phrasing, tempo and dynamics of flavors are assessed and balanced. They arrive on our tongues as a big, double-forte grin. An invitation to dinner with him is a gift; a guarantee of compelling substance, in both food and conversation. He could easily be a pro chef if he so chose, but is wise enough to know that it’s more fun to cook on delight rather than on demand. I know some composers who would agree.
My first glimpse of this view was when I stumbled across Mark’s blog almost two years ago. He wrote of his move here and what it meant to him. I stared at his photos, entranced, for long periods of time as I prepared to relocate my own life to this latitude. Months later in a Friday Harbor coffee shop, peering over my laptop I noticed a fellow working at his own. I remembered the face from a fleeting blog photo, and walked over to say hello. Dumbfounded that anyone would recognize him, I think Mark may have even blushed as he enjoyed his 15 minutes of local fame.
The blogosphere does more than connect me with clients, patrons and colleagues; it creates a serendipity of connection that nourishes me with wonderful vistas, food, and new friends. I think a lot about the meaning of technology in my life as an artist, and how easy it is to allow people around the world to become familiar with my music. But I’m constantly struck by the pre-relationships the internet fosters: the feeling that we “know” someone before ever having met them, due to the words and pictures they share with anyone willing to observe.
Every single time I traveled this year to speak at or participant in a music conference, I invariably met people with whom I already had pre-relationships via the web. Perhaps we were MySpace friends who enjoyed each other’s audio clips. Perhaps we had emailed a few times about one of my chamber works. Perhaps they were avid readers of my blog, or I was of theirs. Perhaps we had spent time perusing each other’s websites or, in that most post-modern pursuit, commenting on other blogs about each other’s blog comments. Enpixelated representations of people I “knew” on Facebook, LinkedIn, Classical Lounge, or any other social networking site, suddenly blossomed into life and three-dimensional pheromones, right in front of me. Everywhere I went, it would seem that someone would come up to me out of the blue and introduce themselves with the same knowing delight as I did to Mark last year. And like Mark, I would take a moment to get used to the idea that this person already “knew” me in several significant ways.
The digital interconnectivity we share has changed the manner by which we learn about each other. Upon hearing of someone, many of us immediately launch into a little game of due diligence by Googling them for context. No longer do we wait for someone to unpeel themselves slowly; we are all social onions with many layers, and the outer ones have already been exposed. I like the efficiency of this, but even more, I like the surprises that come with getting to know someone after you think you pre-know them. Just as with life in the physical plane, I’ve learned to take in a great view and resist making assumptions about the layers beyond the last wisps of clouds.