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Clarity, confusion + Magritte by Misha Lyuve
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Oct 26, 2013

Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.” – René Magritte

Clairvoyance by Magritte

"Clairvoyance" by Magritte

“I want to be confused,” says no one. Instead we adamantly strive for clarity. We thirst for it in communication with our bosses, customers and spouses. We long for it looking for the direction in our lives and prioritizing our goals and aspirations. We rely on it to solve business problems and figure out the shortest most efficient paths to meet business goals. We want it all – transparent, unpacked, devoid of ambiguity or confusion – and we want it now.

Confusion, however, is an ambiguous phenomenon. One one hand, it is the state we prefer to avoid all together. We relate to it as to a flu and try to suppress its symptoms – uncertainty, disorientation and contradiction. On the other hand, it is confusion that generates new ideas, fertilizes creativity and fosters innovation. In fact, the path to clarity lies through confusion. And it is precisely the balance between clarity and confusion that is missing in our lives.

But given that we live in clarity obsessed society, let me share of a secret safe place to indulge in confusion – ART. Specifically I recently visited René Magritte’s exhibition “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Magritte’s talent is in his ability to interrupt the expected clarity of mundane. When you look at his art, don’t worry about liking or disliking it, because it’s not the point. Instead allow yourself be puzzled, confused, stimulated. There is a mystery of our existence that can be found there; it cannot be trivialized or broken down to clarity.

"Attempting the Impossible" by Magritte

"Attempting the Impossible" by Magritte

"The Eternally Obvious" by Magritte

"The Eternally Obvious" by Magritte

Lessons of Pompidou by Misha Lyuve
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Sep 24, 2013

Last week, while in Paris I visited Pompidou Center and here is what it taught me.

In travel literature it was described as “monstrous” and “love it or hate it.” Among the refined and airy neighborhood Parisian buildings with fine moldings and intricate railings, Pompidou Center does feel like a sore in an eye – a large transparent box with metal columns where functional inner workings (water and air pipes, elevators, wiring) brought to the outside in bright red, yellow, blue and green.

Many times had I seen it before and this time around yet again I found it bizarre, puzzling, incomprehensible.

Inside the center I visited the modern art section of 1960+ at National Museum of Modern Art. It immersed me into the diverse multi-media world of art that left me emotionally touched and experientially full.

Kader Attia "Ghost"

Kader Attia "Ghost"

Pompidou paris view

The view from the very top of Pompidou Center

The building has also terraces on top floors. Each of them brought out a unique view of Paris. From the very top you can see myriad of roofs with Eiffel tower in the back. From the lower floor you could catch close up details of the buildings near by.

There was a moment when I realized that like in many other life situations I was looking for attributes of beauty on the outside, but Pompidou Center was showing it to me from the inside.

When I left the museum and looked back at the building, I saw it in a new light. Now I could appreciate how purposeful and deliberate it was. How in contrast it highlighted the elegance of the surrounding, while proudly keeping its one of a kind character. Proudly. And yes, there was monstrosity and there was beauty.

Pompidou center paris

Happiness by Misha Lyuve

Sep 24, 2013

“All people wish to be happy; only a few understand that real happiness cannot be obtained with restlessness that is created by constant searching”

I-Ching, The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth, Hua-Ching Ni
Hex 27, Providing Nourishment

Some journeys by Misha Lyuve

Jul 21, 2013

20130721-102119.jpg

Privilege of being Unhappy by Misha Lyuve

May 25, 2013

Today I woke up feeling unhappy. I identified at least three reasons that would explain this phenomenon: I had a difficult week at work; I wasn’t anywhere close to where I wanted to be in respect to the $1,000,000 fundraising goal for Worldwide Orphans; I haven’t written a blog posting in four weeks.

In my introspection it became clear that there was no one else to blame for any of these things. I am the one chasing career aspirations that come with their setbacks and rewards; I am the one who came up with the $1,000,000 goal; I am the one who had started the blog and created the expectation to write weekly or at most with a two-week interval.

Like many of you, I see my life in the context of the “pursuit of happiness” (“I was looking for happiness with persistent aggressiveness”), a right specifically mentioned in the United States’ Declaration of Independence. But apparently the things that I am doing in the pursuit of my happiness were not making me happy. At least not this morning. Which started all this inner deliberation.

What is that we pursue? What we want and what we think is possible for us to have – but most importantly we pursue what we don’t have. In other words, pursuit of happiness can’t exist without the underlying idea that happiness is not already here and has to be found. Does it imply that we are innately “un-happy”? Does it mean that unhappiness was inadvertently written down into the Declaration of Independence? Is this pursuit a trap?

Most likely.

Let’s note here that not everyone has an equal access to this pursuit. If you don’t have enough food to feed yourself and your family; if bombs and gunshots ravage your neighborhood; if you are being persecuted for your beliefs or being who you are – survival supersedes any considerations for happiness. And unhappiness for that matter.

Those of us who have a choice for pursuit of happiness, often take it for granted. And in reality, something that was declared as a right by the New World is more of a privilege. And in the way the back of your hand is inseparable from your palm, your privilege to pursue happiness comes with the privilege of being unhappy. Let’s embrace both.

Stories, history and the flow of kindness by Misha Lyuve

Apr 28, 2013

Family stories hold keys to past in special ways. They make history into more than just textbooks, but vivid alive experiences passed through the words of people we know and love. They allow us to honor the past in a way that forwards the future…

Dora Shapiro, 1930ies

…After my album release party in February, Elena, my doctor since the day I landed in the US, approached me with an idea: to host a private performance and a fundraiser for Worldwide Orphans for her friends at her home. Two months have passed and now Elena’s living room is tightly packed with guests. Before the performance, Elena approaches me: “I will need a few minutes. I want to share something, something very important.” And now that everyone quiets down, Elena stands fragile and beautiful in front of the guests, her husband and daughter. “I would like to dedicate this evening to my mom and my aunt Dora,” her voice cracks.

Back in 1920 when they were 1 and 7, their family decided to venture on a long and dangerous journey. They left their hometown Genichesk in Ukraine, where food and jobs were sparse and many were starving to death, for St. Petersburg in search of a better life. During the grueling move their parents died from typhoid and the sisters ended up in an orphanage in Sumi, Ukraine.

Incidentally the orphanage was built and supported by an American Jewish organization and it became home for Elena’s mom and aunt for years to come. It provided food and shelter and made them into generous and ‘full-lifed’ humans. Aunt Dora became a teacher. During the World War II Leningrad blockade, when the German troops surrounded Leningrad taking away all access for food and supplies for 872 days, she was a director of an orphanage. She starved herself, but she made sure whatever little food they had went to kids. She saved many lives…

Sonya Shapiro, 1930ies

Sonya Shapiro, 1930ies

As Elena continues with her speech, I get a vivid glimpse into the universal flow of kindness – American philanthropists a century ago, women at the Ukrainian orphanage, lives of kids who survived the Leningrad blockade, my free visits to Elena in her Brooklyn office when I had neither an insurance nor money, another doctor Jane Aronson who founded Worldwide Orphans and works tirelessly to improve lives of orphans, abandoned kids in Haiti whose eyes are still following me and these people in front of whom I am about to perform…

We honored Elena’s family and raised $2,145 for Worldwide Orphans. The universal flow of kindness is continuing, touching more people and creating stories that will turn into history.

Why you are NOT in love with your job by Misha Lyuve

Apr 14, 2013

Since you are reading this, I am assuming that at a minimum, some place, even a tiny bit, you are not in love with your job. You might keep it as a big secret from everyone. And maybe even from yourself. Or your friends might’ve developed calluses in their ears listening to your complaints. Or you just turned off that part of self all together, disconnected from it, shut it down – because what’s the point.

Whatever the story is, you will most likely discover that one or more of the following applies to you:

1. You are afraid. And you might not be aware that you are afraid. The shivers on your back when you get an unanticipated call from your boss. The increased heart rate when threatened by a customer complaint. You are scared of your coworkers and even people that report to you. You are terrified of being fired, or that you will not get a raise or a promotion. The fear that your life will be like this all the time. Fear is your driving force. It runs in your veins. All the time. You cannot be in love with your job if fear runs your life.

2. You hide. Meaning that you show only a partial self at work.  You developed a “work personality” that cuts out the other aspects of you that you find inconvenient or not professional or not relevant. You don’t talk about what’s important in your life. You share your gripes, but not your passions. While you think that you have “good” reasons to live a double life, it is impossible to be in love with your job, not being able to express a full self.

3. You don’t think it matters. You believe that this particular moment of your life doesn’t really carry that much importance. But some time not now it will all work out – when you find your “dream job” or you retire or win a lottery, then you will be the person you want to be and live the life that you want to live.  But for now, it’s just a job, a means to an end. You cannot be in love with your job, if you think that right now doesn’t matter.

This is enough for now.  Mull it over… To be continued in part 2.

Buddha of Borobudur by Misha Lyuve
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Dec 13, 2011

 

Temple of Borobudur, Java, Indonesia

New York Still Life by Misha Lyuve
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Oct 30, 2011

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