New York vs. Havana

Unequivocally different yet equally magic and beautiful.

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The edge

"Come to the edge.
We can't. We're afraid.
Come to the edge.
We can't. We will fall!
Come to the edge. 
And they came.
And he pushed them. 
And they flew."

Guillaume Apollinaire

Kindness is like a breath

Kevin Kelly is one of my favourite writers. I love his take on life and the simplicity in which he writes can be quite revealing. In a letter to his friends and family written in 2007 he said:

Kindness is like a breath. It can be squeezed out, or drawn in. To solicit a gift from a stranger takes a certain state of openness. If you are lost or ill, this is easy, but most days you are neither, so embracing extreme generosity takes some preparation. I learned to think of this as an exchange. During the moment the stranger offers his or her goodness, the person being aided offers degrees of humility, indebtedness, surprise, trust, delight, relief and amusement to the stranger.

When the miracle flows, it flows both ways. With each gift the threads of benevolence are knotted, snaring both giver and recipient. I've only slowly come to realize that good givers are those who learn to receive with grace as well. They radiate a sense of being indebted and a state of being thankful. As a matter of fact, we are all at the receiving end of a huge gift simply by being alive. Yet, most of us are no good at being helpless, humble or indebted.

In a world where people become more selfish every day, these are words of wisdom. Kindness can cause a ripple effect. It can change lives.

The school of the future

As an educator, I can't wait for the "school in the cloud" to come true. I teach a regular in-class college course and I truly believe that this new concept could really change the game for students and teachers. As a student, this has been my reality for a few years now. About 2 years ago, I made the decision not to attend in-class courses anymore. I simply don't see a point. Although I clearly see the value of personal connections the idea of being somewhere on a specific day,  at a certain time feels very inconvenient to me. My thinking is that everything you will ever want (or need) to learn is available to you, right now, on demand and possibly free. It doesn't matter if you want to learn how to juggle, clean and re-finish old door knobs or if you are interested in getting a certificate in human-computer interaction from Stanford University. You can do it all right now from the comfort of your home (or your favorite coffee shop). It requires a shift in the way we think about education but the school in the cloud is already here. It's up to us teachers and students to figure out what to do with it.

The empty house

Life is made of cycles and cycles are meant to come to an end. This week, a very happy cycle in our lives came to an end. We left the house in which we spent the last 5 years. During this time, this house saw lots of happy moments and a few not so happy ones. It was a refuge when things out there felt weird and complicated. It was the place we love going back to after a day of hard work. Many loved friends and family members laughed, cried, ate, drank, slept in this house. We are fortunate enough to have many extraordinary people in our lives. Today it's empty. The emptiness reminded us of moments when the house was full of love.

 I am sure it will become a happy home for another family. As we loaded thuck with all our stuff we also took with us the unshakable belief that the new house will be an even happier place where more loved ones will laugh, cry, eat, drink, sleep. It's a new cycle that starts now. Although new cycles always bring uncertainty and fear they also offer an opportunity to build something exciting. As scary as it may be, isn't it nice to be somewhere new? 

Craftwork

I click a mouse for a living. Most of my days are spent in front of a computer. My thinking (that should be done away from my desk) ends up being done in front of a screen. Even when I off I find myself browsing the Internet. Even though I find it amazing that I don't need to do any type of gruelling physical work to make a few bucks I feel totally disconnected  from the concept of creating things with my own hands. Not virtual creations. Analog creations. Craftwork.

I recently ran into these 2 stories and they absolutely fascinated me. Everything these guys create is beautifully crafted. They spend hours meticulously crafting something unique. Hand made. Start to finish.

Absolutely brilliant.

High Line and Chelsea Market, New York

One of the biggest surprises on this trip to New York was our visit to the High Line and the Chelsea Market. I'd even say that it is was probably the highlight of our trip.

Located on the lower west side, the High Line is a 1.6 KM aerial greenway that extends from Gansevoort St. (close to the 14th) and 34th. The path was built on top of a section of the former elevated freight railroad spur called the West Side Line. It is a wonderful green space with lots of water fountains, flowers, trees, tables and beach chairs. It feels surreal to walk along a suspended park in the middle of a very busy area of New York, the Meatpacking district. The view from there is also spectacular. You can see the water on the west side and the hustle and bustle of the Chelsea neighborhood on the east side. The High Line has tons of great architectural features and the visit is definitely worth your time.

 

The Chelsea Market is an enclosed food market built in the former factory complex where the Oreo cookie was invented and produced for decades. The stunning and newly renovated building is part of a large revitalization process of the Meatpacking District. Since there are lots of offices nearby, the market is packed 7 days a week. In the warmer months, people buy food at the market and have their lunches at the High Line. A pretty sweet plan, in my opinion.

It will only take you half a day to cover both places and when in New York, don't miss it. It is well worth the time.