Thursday, October 16, 2014

Harmony for Humanity

This week my family and I attended Harmony for Humanity at Stanford's Memorial Church - a musical tribute that is part of an international network of concerts to honor the memory of Daniel Pearl - a Generation X journalist with both Israeli and American citizenship who was slain in 2002. Daniel attended Stanford as a young man and each year a musical tribute is held here by students and faculty.  The tribute also takes place each year on the same day in other places around the world.

It was the strangest thing on our way there, it felt like it was the first day Autumn had finally come to to that part of Bay Area.  It was as if the wind and leaves and sky were paying a tribute to Daniel's memory that evening.  Daniel was a perfect example of one of the best assets of the collective personality of Generation X - respect and understanding for other cultures.

Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann gave a beautiful and comforting sermon about the night.  She mentioned how the annual musical tribute for him always happens in the Fall since that was the time of year Danny was born, and she talked about the Festival of Sukkot in which we found ourselves - a time of year to focus on what matters most - community, charity, being open to the world around us.  Sukkots were the temporary and fragile shelters, the tents, that the Hebrews lived in during their sojourn in the desert.  She spoke of how there is a certain vulnerability in these structures - that if we exist in structures like these, both literally and figuratively, others can easily enter them.  If we live figuratively in vulnerable structures like this we are more open to the world.  It is our vulnerability that connects us to everything and everyone around us.

Daniel's sister Michelle exudes a sweetness that can be felt across the room.  She spoke a few words as well and said that she finds herself amazed at the beauty she sees that comes from humanity, which made me start to cry.

Dusk had turned the sky into the richest blue, and while waiting for the doors to open, we lined up quietly among the people paying tribute.  I wore all black to mourn the loss, I dressed my daughter in bright colors to celebrate rebirth into a better place.

We listened reverently to the sounds of the string quartet as the music of Bach carried up toward the glass ceiling.  We looked up at at icons of history, especially those honoring Jewish tradition.  The mosaic images of the four archangels leaned down over us, watching over human history as generations come and depart, as we try to leave the world a better place than how we found it.  

The Daniel Pearl Foundation promotes mutual respect and understanding 
among diverse cultures through journalism, music and dialogue.  

(c) 2014 writing and photography by Chloe Koffas 

Friday, October 10, 2014

When Poetry Creates Pixels

Light From a Pixel

Entering this space, a universe of a billion pixels connecting to a billion more,
An ellipsis so I can find the omission.

The not found places of the human heart no longer drowned by all the noise on the outside.

Moving through time,
the dark freeways that took us to this place,

Here's our exit: there was a reason for it all.

The sun will rise like the day you were born,
moving across the cold asphalt that you felt would take you nowhere,
it becomes holy ground.

When I was a kid, I would think forward in time and I would think about what it would be like to be alive past the turn of the millennium and into the decades that would follow.  I always knew that someday, when the day 1/11/2011 came, something extraordinary would begin in my life and that it would be part of something much larger than just my own life.  What ended up happening that day, is that I wrote down the very first words of this blog, and those words manifested themselves as the poetry above.

This blog is a journey of a quintessential Gen Xer who has been looking to find some answers - who started getting tired of being angry and has been working on getting un-angry.  It seems to be working (mostly).  The more truth I speak, the less angry I feel.  I have always been a person full of extraordinary hope, even as I work to pull myself out of the fatalism that tries to swallow it all up.

This blog is a journey of looking for some kind of redemption of our collective story, for myself, and for all of us who were born at a time and place when society deemed us 'throwaways'.  We were the children during the largest and longest anti-child zeitgeist in modern history, yet we are the ones who did all the dirty work for minimum wage in our adolescence and twenties, and now were are the ones who quietly and sacrificially give back to society what we wish could have been given to us.  I am constantly in awe of my fellow Gen Xers and I have a heart for my generation - for all they have been through.

I am grateful for all the people this blog has brought into my life, I am grateful for the way this blog has brought people back into my life.  I am grateful for how this blog has been a catalyst for so many miracles in  my life, and I know there are many more yet to come.  Thank you to those who have come with me on this journey. Thank you, fellow Gen Xers, for the light you have shown me so that I can gather it up, put it into words and throw it out into the world in the form of pixels.

(c) 2014 writing/poetry and photo by Chloe Koffas - all rights reserved