Over and Over
MUSINGS FOR A NEW YEAR
by Payton Turner
Instead of a specific list of achievements or resolutions, I typically pick one word to center my goals and wishes upon for the year ahead.
This year I picked connection.
In November 2021, I had the luck of seeing Twyla Tharp's latest performance in New York City. My first live performance since the start of the pandemic! Not only that, but Tharp is one of my absolute favorite creative geniuses to gift this planet with her presence. I've looked to her ideas, habits, and books for years. Whenever I've felt off-kilter or needed a reminder of why I chose to be an artist, and what's important about the active practice that is an artist's life, I turn to Twyla. Sitting in a comfortably full theater of masked humans next to one of my best friends, watching the performance unfold, with the hushed rhythm of people all around us (adjusting a scarf, shifting in their seat, breathing, absorbing the scene before them) was almost too much to handle. I could reach out and gently touch the woman next to me with one sanitized finger, look into her eyes, and ask her where she bought her lovely sweater. I could tell my friend my thoughts and I could watch her expression in real time, and feel the warmth of her hand as I examine her new manicure. We could laugh together about the agitated couple sitting in front of us unable to figure out what aspect of the performance was happening. I could watch the dancers tell stories with their palpable physical power. The breathing, the sound of breathing. I was connected to this, all of this, in real time.
I don't have the space necessary from the ongoing pandemic to offer any wisdom about my particular experience just yet. However, one thing has become so very clear to me. We need to connect with one another, physically, on a daily basis. I'm not talking about trying to connect with people who don't believe that every single person in the United States deserves equality and equity. I'm talking about the daily interactions that are so important to the fabric of our humanity and shared experience. Without our neighbors, who we lucked out meeting in 2020, I think we would have lost our minds not having members of our local community to connect with, chat with, visit with outside. I'm also talking about our interconnectedness from a material standpoint, too. Without seeing and chatting to Joe, our regular UPS delivery person at the studio, I think we would've lost a tangible and pleasant connection to the journey our products go on– how they morph from an idea to the final material we ship to people around the world.
Not only are these connections so important for the daily pep and interest they offer, but without them, we tend to forget how interconnected we are, and how making things themselves takes time. I know, it sounds a little far fetched and perhaps vague. But, there is a difference between buying something in person at the store in your town versus shopping for something from a massive box store online. There's a connection there, and a humanity there, that simply can't exist in the same way via a digital shopping experience. We've also grown accustomed to the lighting-fast satiation of needs, whether it be free expedited 1-day shipping or endless distractions accessed by the tap of a finger. That ease makes it difficult, in the moment of choice, to remember the nice human pleasures of stepping up a curb, opening a door, breathing in the scent of a store (even CVS!), and interacting with other 3D humans.
I think our frustration tolerance is at an all time low in part due to our lack of physical connection, too. From what I understand and experience, many people find it deeply unbearable to wait for anything anymore. I get it! I face the same thing. I fight it, though. I try to bring an awareness around my reaction when I'm told yet again that my toddler's bed will be delayed another month and my frustration about something so minor has somehow turned into a physical flash of fury. I take a deep breath. Things have to actually be made. Those things do take time. They can't be printed out (at least, not everything, not yet!). We live in a physical world. One that I like, and discover funny things about all the time. Finding a balance between the digital and the physical is going to continue to be something my generation and the generations that follow work towards. I hope there will be a balance. It's hard to imagine taking part in a vast, layered, fascinating, surprising world that exists mostly online.
In the meantime, I'm going to be here for right now, enjoying the physical connections that I can find during these Omicron days, and thinking about ways to digitally connect that feel more human. I'll also take daily pleasure in the small connections of our quotidian life and work routines, while making plans and moves to strengthen connections and foster new ones with my neighborhood, the design community, fellow artists and artisans, the amazing humans we work with, so on and so forth.
Okay, 2022. Connection. Let's go.