Tibet House meets my house

Less than an hour to the 34th Annual Benefit for Tibet House. I’m there — again. It’s an amazing, uplifting night. Some of my favorite musicians — Patti Smith (and daughter Jesse Paris Smith), Laurie Anderson (also channeling her late-husband Lou Reed, Iggy Pop (cleans up pretty good) and this year Eddie Vedder, Annie Lennox, Cage The Elephant, and others. Philip Glass is music director and oretty much a magnet for these likeminded musicians.
Along with the music — the event is a mother lode of inspiration — and perspective.

Perspective about our lives. Each of us, where we fit in, what we are doing, what we can do, be, change. Really, it’s like that.

This year no doubt we will get some extra rocket fuel for our souls because the Dalai Lama is, well, the warm-up act: He’s appearing digitally (who isn’t?) to offer some of his ineffable words of wisdom and, no doubt hope,

For me, it’s a no brainer I was so excited when I round out the benefit was coming this year. I am desperate here for music, for hope, for connection, for awareness, and some sort of experience, to put me back in the FLIPPIN WORLD.

It was easy to get a ticket — you can even get one, right now, for as low as $25 (eek, do I sound like a late-night commercial?). Just click here

Yeah, that’s one of the advantages of living virtual in these times. Last minute purchase, unlimited tix.

You also don’t have to spend two hours and mess up your bedroom deciding  what to wear. Or worry about traffic, or parking, or taxis, or finding an ATM so you can afford a drink. Weather is not an issue. The “seats” will be perfect. 
All of that is nice.
And yet … I will click the link for the show with some trepidation.

Because I remember the way it was, and I am afraid of the way it will be.

I  can only think back on the half-dozen times I was there for real. In visceral, surprising, un-managed 3-D. The whole night counted.  Carnegie Hall (yeah, sigh).  Glowing lights in the night. Doors. And people wearing coats, hands in pockets. Walking on city block pavement. Breath steaming freely into cold air.
Anticipation. Something. Surprised and unplanned and potentially head-exploding.

I remember arriving alone in the rain. In a hurry, out of breath and heart pounding. I remember sitting at the nearly empty Russian Tea Room pre-show with Lisa. Sitting at a big round white-clothed table,  beads of water sliding down the copper Moscow mule cups as a waiter regaled us with tales of the art  on the walls around us.

I remember all those times. Going in. arriving. My seat — the best seat for my way of being there. A chair in an upper box on the side, the front row with just a few other people.  Just the railing in front of me, I would spend the whole night leaning over, looking at the stage, the audience, the theater —  everything. Clapping till my hands stung and bark-bravo-ing till my throat hurt.

I can remember the people around me, their small words, whispering the “Oh my god” I was feeling. I was there by myself beat I never, ever felt alone. We were joined at the, well, heart, by the moment. The music. The wisdom in  the words.

So much joy. Of course, I had to cry,

And when the lights came up and we got our coats on, I would meet the eyes of my fellow human beings. And not be embarrassed that there were tears rolling down my cheeks.
Because theirs were wet, too.

Where have all the snowmen gone?

So there’s big snow here in the Northeast. Up here, in the Hudson Valley, up to 3 feet.
I see lots of video, lots of reporting, on people shoveling.

But where are the snowmen?

The snowforts?

The snowball fights?

The sledding?

Nature has delivered primo conditions for all of the above. Are kids (of all ages) seizing the moment?

Maybe I’m just not looking in the right places for evidence of these activities — the joy of the big snow.

But I have this little niggling fear that Covid is throwing some hot water on the joy of snow.

I read this story in the Times last week saying that kids are “slid[ing] down an increasingly slippery path into an all-consuming digital life.” Screen time and gaming in particular have at least doubled since the outbreak and (no surprise) virtual has replaced normal stuff like hanging out in school and physical activities like sports — and snowmanning.

Kids have found comfort by curling up in a kind of digital “pleasure cocoon” as Dr. Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician who studies children’s use of mobile technology at the University of Michigan, put it.

I get it. We all get it. We all have our cocoons. And we’re not necessarily proud of it.

But one of the big pandemic lessons is reminding us to seize the moment. To wake up and, in this case, smell the roses. To embrace the gifts, great and small, that we do have — ones we most likely ignored and took for granted when life was pre-Covid “normal.”

Snow, it’s not just for shoveling.

It’s wondrous. It’s nature’s bling. The stuff of ephemeral architecture. A bizillion flakes of possiblilities. And surprise. And memories.

It’s OK to interrupt. When I was a little kid we lived in an apartment in Queens that had a tiny balcony. One night, my mother, totally out of character, went out on the balcony, grabbed some snow, came inside and threw a (badly made) snowball at me.
One of the best memories ever of me and my usually unplayful mom.

So get out of the cocoon, spread your wings, grab a carrot and some coal, and remember FUN.

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PS Feel free to share your snowman creations/sightings.