Big moments, little moments.

March 10th, 2014, 10am

A couple of weeks ago I was in Austin attending a workshop on “transformational design.” The facilitators’ instructions were easy enough: dig deep in your memory banks and make a list of experiences that transformed you.

I was stumped for a little while there, staring at my Post-Its, twiddling a Sharpie in my hand. (These, by the way, are the tools of my trade.) Had I really experienced anything that suddenly changed me? Are we talking about moments here, or perhaps years’ worth of experience? I remember seeing my wife for the first time — and a friend happened to take a photo of us at the very moment we met — but no angelic choirs or golden sunbeams attended our meeting. Holding my baby daughter in my arms for the first time was another unforgettable moment, but putting her down to sleep all on my own was, in hindsight, probably more revelatory.

Finally I realized that the transformational experience didn’t have to be earth-shattering. I wrote down a few random things, which you see in the photo of the Post-Its above. I could write a piece about each one. Because I was in the company of geeks, I volunteered “Playing Adventure on the Atari 2600 console in 1981” as a transformational experience. Except for dwelling in the realm of books, I had not, at that point, felt anything more immersive, the idea that I was guiding this dot with purpose, through a narrative. (Recently I played a port of the game on a web browser and was astonished to discover that I still knew how to get through the maze and where everything was.)

In order to understand that something is transformational, you have to have something to compare it with: something that defines a transition, a passage from one state to another, a clear distinction between before and after. That isn’t true for all the Post-Its in the photo, but they did mark some sort of shift inside me, whether big or small.

In a way, these transformational experiences are not what Hi is about: it isn’t about epiphanies or life-changing moments. It’s about fishing observations and details and moments from the undifferentiated stream of experience in which we all find ourselves immersed.

It’s about that act of “fishing,” of making that selection, of fashioning meaning around something seemingly random by placing it in a more significant context. Writing these sketches make one precisely more receptive to and mindful of those small moments — and reading about other people’s moments is one thing that makes Hi so great. I love the idea of an entire community of photographers and writers recording the world around them and creating something out of it.

Christine, Elisa, Aidz and Lia said thanks.

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Sunny Vergara

Must see! Charming, spacious and immaculate. Newly remodeled, granite counter top, utilities included, walk-in closet, views of the Bay. Great location, close to restaurants, MUNI, Safeway, 280 and 101, etc. Okay, a bio for real:

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