Kochetkova’s Joyful Landscape of Dance; Lincoln’s Melancholy; Pew and Perspective; Your Audio Selfie Is Up; A Mother on a Life of Few Words

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - 7:22 am

Kochetkova’s Joyful Landscape of Dance; Lincoln’s Melancholy; Pew and Perspective; Your Audio Selfie Is Up; A Mother on a Life of Few Words

Each week I write a weekly column trying to capture and replay a tiny bit of the incredible conversations and efforts taking place behind the scenes at On Being. Sometimes it’s a listener’s response on our Facebook page or a gorgeous photo on Instagram, but it’s often intriguing. If you’d like to receive my column in your email inbox, subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

“Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.”

Our Wednesday column this week features a video with Parker Palmer discussing Abraham Lincoln’s melancholy. He prompts us to find the better angels in our natures through telling the story of the former president and his ability to reconcile the darkness and lightness within himself.

The Pew Research Center released its survey results on America’s increasing political polarization (“ideological consistency” is a phrase they use) and how it affects the public’s relationships, our ability to reach compromise, and our everyday lives. Krista’s recent conversation with Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, helps makes sense of the why — and the how-questions underpinning these findings. I encourage you to listen — if only to have more productive civil conversations with your family, like Stephanee wrote in to tell us:

“Growing up in a conservative family and going to university and getting the rude awakening that the thoughts and values I was brought up with were largely unwelcome was very isolating. Haidt’s presentation was of such comfort — even though I am much more liberal than my conservative family I value their thoughts and opinions — this presentation confirms the need and path to civility which has been lost in the current combative political environment between Right and Left.”

A hero to some and heretic to others, once more the Swiss theologian Hans Küng has sparked much debate in Germany with his recent question, “How long do I want to live?” A perspective from abroad on our collective struggle with end-of-life issues:

“When it comes to death and dying, there are only difficult answers to difficult questions.”

The Your Audio Selfie project was a hit at the Northern Spark festival last Saturday. People “took” over 50 audio selfies, magnificent folks from Somalia to New York to Kansas City and Minneapolis. Some responses you’ll recognize, and others just may surprise you. Have a listen.

But the performance of “Honoring Tagore: Sacred Earth” by Ragamala Dance was the highlight of the evening. A packed house greeted Ranee, Aparna, Ashwini, Tamara, and Jessica in our humble studios on Loring Park. We’ll be releasing our production on Rabindranath Tagore (and video of this dance) on August 7th. I’ll share more photos next week!

Last week I featured some of Ami Vitale’s awesome photographs from around the world. This week I bring you Maria Kochetkova. The Russian ballerina is a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet, and her Instagram is fabulous.

My favorite posts are her 15-second videos, like the one above. You get a rare glimpse of a burgeoning artist who takes you behind-the-scenes into dance studios (lots of gorgeous video) in Moscow, New York, and San Francisco.

You gain a sense of the discipline and rigor it takes to be a professional dancer…

And the art that inspires her, like this painting by Alice Neel (I’ll admit, a personal favorite of mine).

The author with her son Calvin. ( Christy Shake )

But her playful personality reveals a joy in daily life that inspires me to do so too. And how fitting is that in the context of this week’s show with Stuart Brown on play?

I’ll end with some profound words from Christy Shake. She submitted an essay through our guest contribution form. It’s a marvelous reflection on the quiet, unassuming ways of her father and how she carries this relationship forward as she raises her son Calvin, who has advanced epilepsy:

“As we stumble away I consider whether Calvin is capable of having any kind of belief system. What I am sure of is that he — like my dad was — is rooted in the here and now, in the love of the physical world and that which is in front of him, unaware of what might be coming around the next corner or what the next moment might promise. But whatever it is, it’s enough for him not to have to believe, but rather simply to exist, to love and be loved.”

If you have a photographer or artist you’d like to recommend, please share with me — by email at tgilliss@onbeing.org or via Twitter at @trentgilliss. And, as always, advice, criticism, pitches, leads. I’m open to all of your feedback.

May the wind always be at your back.

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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