Thursday, November 15, 2007

Enjoying the Gift of Being Present

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Guilt Safari

"The only thing I wish we had had time to do was go to a national park [to see wildlife]," Pat told me over the weekend.

I'm spending a fair amount of time, trying not to feel guilty lately. Colleagues are saying, "Hey, don't leave now. Everything's not yet complete. You can't leave in the middle." ...I'm not leaving for more than a month, but it has begun already...and it's flattering, yet unsettling.

And then Pat told me she had a regret over what we didn't get to do while in India.

Presence Presents

Channa's friend, Manjunata, gave me a ride to work today, since Channa was ill. As we drove across the flyover in Whitefield, I saw a glistening elephant, fresh from a river-bath, with its trunk raised like a natural trumpet; over its trunk, a single word: "Come."

The elephant was gracing a giant billboard, like the ones we see driving into Manhattan from my sister Deb's and her family in Queens. It was an ad for Cicada Resorts, "Wildlife, Club Class." If I can get my final paper written by December 13th, we can go during our last weekend in Bangalore. We'll see. I did send an inquiry to the resort and received an automated message that they'd contact us during office hours.

How calming it would be to see wildlife. During a relatively recent visit to the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, I found myself soothed, simply looking at a herd of sheep and lambs running up and down a yard that was dedicated to them.

Tonight, during a conversation with one of my dear mentors, she said, "That billboard was a perfect example of making sure you don't miss what's going on in the present either by looking for too long in the rear-view mirror, or by looking too far ahead."

Hot Songs and a Cool Professor

This morning was full of gifts: On the radio, I heard two really great songs for the first time: Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" and "Androgyny." Lewis' voice was haunting-rich while "Androgyny" was fun in its invitation to play with our gender. Though it was first released in 2001, I never heard it on American radio, but maybe that's not so shocking....

Also, I heard a guy rapping so poetically that I was reminded of Professor Lauren Berlant, whose interview never was published by the magazine I wrote for during my first summer after college, "Inside Chicago." It stopped publishing altogether within a year of its launch.

Professor Berlant met me at McDonald's on Randolph Street in Chicago, rather than in her U. of C. office. It was the summer of '87 and she was passionate about researching rap at the time. If I remember correctly, she thought that the poetic value of some of it was huge.

I thought she was so cool and then they didn't publish the interview I wrote. I didn't save a copy. I'm glad and not surprised that she's doing well 20 years later.

Songs that Remind Me It's Nearly Thanksgiving

The ride was rounded out by two, super-cheerful tunes, which I can't get out of my head now, and for which I'm grateful: "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" and "I Got It from My Mama."

The "...Mama" song actually made me homesick for my mother, though I doubt that that was its intention.


David & Gerard said...

Hi Sarah and Pat, we're off to San Francisco Saturday morning for a week of Thanksgiving, first a few days with Scott & Ted, then the rest of the week with Peter and Fernando. My mother flew out this morning.

Hope that you both enjoy the Thanksgiving spirit while you bask in the otherworldliness of Bangalore :-)

Sarah Siegel said...

Love to your mom and brother, David and bon voyage!

My most other-worldly Thanksgiving was the one I spent alone two years ago, in an Indian restaurant in Shanghai.