Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spring 47: Limits

8:40am-9:40am, Sundew Trail, Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, ME
foggy, rainy, grey

It's my last day here at Acadia, and I make one last circuit of the Sundew Trail. I'm nostalgic already for these delicious pine forests, the secluded paths, the benches by rocky coasts and crashing waves.

The almost-neon green of the lichen astonishes me as much as it did the first day, and I wish I had brought my camera. But I intentionally left it at home, to better experience the walk. Enough documentation-mode on this trip!

The Bird of the Day is the Golden-Crowned Kinglet, little flitty pine-loving guy who I finally got a glimpse of:

A foggy day looking over a misty ocean is a nice space to think in.

I've been thinking a lot about limits, and about the courage it takes to do less. I tend to try to do too much, and found this to be the case even on this residency, when I was limited to one project, instead of the usual juggling of several.

Was I here to hike, field-record birds, transcribe birdsong, compose, study birds and Messiaen, practice my birdcalls, or perform? OK, maybe all of the above, but what were the priorities? It was sometimes hard to decide.

I wonder how things would have developed if I had stuck to my rule of One Bird a Day - a policy I threw out the window in my eagerness to take full advantage of Acadia.

To take on more just because you have more time can result in doing less with each endeavor. I got overwhelmed at times, bogged down.

Perhaps the real lesson is the value of patience. To know that there is a lot of time ahead, to spin things out at their own pace. I do have my whole life to learn birds (/compose/practice/explore).

I am determined to limit my endeavors upon returning to Boston, to delve more deeply and calmly into a few things. Clearly A Bird a Day could occupy me full-time, and still feel like not enough time - a helpful lesson from this residency!

On my way home, I kept hearing monotone trilling birds, and monotone beeping tractors, leading me to sketch a new piece with different pitched and variously paced beeps.

Here is an excerpt of a piece that is relevant to all these topics: being overly busy, finding calm; the beeping trucks, the kinglet. Recorded at Tuesday night's concert, it's my composition from April 28

I'm thinking of calling the piece "Sanctuary" - it begins with a "cameo" of three different tractor pitches and a crazy, overwhelmed, too-busy head-space, then moves into the peaceful sanctuary of a pine grove full of Golden-Crowned Kinglets (the audience was helping me out by whistling here, though some of them were embarrassed and laughed as well)


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