"to deepen human connection" — what does that mean?
At 5:30am this morning, I woke up for opening shift at the bakery counter. Blinking at my phone, I saw a notification that our COVID-19 policies had just changed — no longer limiting how many customers stand at the counter.
That morning, every time five or more customers crowded at the counter, I felt my chest tighten and my mind go blank. Something about the leap back towards "normal" — no intervals between customers, 2-3 orders being shouted at once over coffee grinding & bread being sliced (all of this, over faint upbeat music) for an hour straight or longer, sometimes — made me realize, I am far from ready for "normal."
If only because I have to, I'll catch up with the pace of my workplace eventually. For now, I am using long walks, making music, and writing to recenter myself & make it through this transition.
Last week, I finished a short video about why & how I'm building a creative career. One of the "why's" I share in the video is "to deepen human connection." Here's what this phrase means to me:
In a typical day, I encounter strangers in three ways:
At the bakery counter. Customers know me as the short, brown girl with a shaved head and tattoos on her arm.
Going for walks (breathing through the occasional waves of anxiety as to how passerby judge my appearance).
Through the window, at home — I'm invisible to passerby, but they hear me practicing flute.
Human connection is ubiquitous & inevitable.
Every day, I connect with other humans in fleeting, impersonal ways. Our lives cross paths, then instantly diverge. Because of this, I'm driven to focus on creative work as a place where that connection can become something meaningful, intentional, & beautiful.
Creative work allows me to share glimpses of my inner world — my imagination, how I navigate or reconstruct lived experience — with those who are willing to spend the mental & emotional energy of receiving it. When they do, there's a possibility that they'll recognize themselves, or parts of their own lived experience, in my work.
I have heard from many people that my work has moved them, or that they related deeply to something difficult I wrote about. The ability to inspire this kind of connection is something I hope never to take for granted. This is why I am dedicating this stage of my life to creative work.
To end, here is a clip of me practicing today.
The truth is, any day that I assemble my flute after a draining shift is a victory. So I'm happy to share that this may not be my best playing, but I had a lovely time warming up my sound & technique for about an hour, then working on a new piece. Below is me practicing part of "Tuhuayo" by Peruvian composer Daniel Cueto. (Thanks for the sheet music, Quynh-Chi!)
Flute notes: Now that I've gotten a handle on the notes & rhythms, my next steps are (1) to be more intentional with phrasing, vibrato, tone colors, articulation, & dynamics, while (2) keeping intonation, sound quality, & rhythm secure, and (3) increasing the range of character — making the louder, faster parts more vibrant, & creating more stillness (calm) when the music calls for it, without disrupting the rhythm.