I am reflecting tonight on how grateful I am to have scholarly, artistic, musical community in my life. I wish I had the capacity to attend every concert, every recital, every performance by the amazing musicians that are a part of my circle of community. I wish I could get to every lecture, every research sharing, and every interdisciplinary talk. I do what I can, but often wish for a clone. Even in my own social science corner of university life, I have the joy of working with creative colleagues who span the gamut of interests from kinetic design to music to medicine to public policy and everything in between. Today was a day that brought these collegial community relationships to home.
First, a colleague with whom I’ve recently met about a possible collaboration was featured on my University’s front page for her really innovative work with virtual words, kinetic imaging, and the quality of life of older adults. Take a look; it’s fascinating: Virtual puppets developed by kinetic imaging professor help older adults feel more comfortable telling their stories
Later in the day, I had the chance to give a research talk with faculty and students from around the university, all studying interesting and compelling things in their disciplines of public policy, education. social work, rehabilitation medicine…and probably a few others I am forgetting. I had a chance to talk about one of my favorite things: research as social change. As we talked, and shared, and I heard their insights I was struck by how much proximity there is in my daily life to people whose interests and intellectual curiosity are diverse, nuanced, and beautifully inspiring. My own research is stronger for my collaborations both in community and on campus, and I was happy to be able to talk about that.
Then, as I was rushing across campus this afternoon, I bumped into a faculty colleague who is Director of the Jazz Studies program. We spent some time in a faculty learning collaborative together around Community Engaged Research a few years back which is where I learned about his cross-cultural jazz collaboration with the jazz studies department at the University of Kwazulu-Natal. I play the album they partnered to record often in my office as part of my own “writing music” so even though it isn’t my own collaboration…I feel that link to work that is part of a common commitment to deep and authentic community partnership.
As I think about these seemingly random, serendipitous encounters of my work day, I am struck by the amazing quality of my seemingly ordinary days. Today’s proximity reflection is gratitude for the people who are part of the circles of our life who we encounter by chance and circumstance. My life is enriched by interconnections that build on our circles on influence, our cultural experiences, our “one reach further out” into a world more diverse and interesting than is contained just in our own line of vision. I feel grateful for this privilege of daily proximity that I cannot take for granted.
Closing, for tonight’s reflection, by sharing a track from the 2013 collaborative jazz album from VCU Jazz and the University of Kwazulu-Natal Jazz quartet: Leap of Faith