Embrace the new. What to read, watch, listen to, and do this weekend.
Story & Heart has had what many would consider an insanely active week, pit as our team was between attending the wonderful world of NAB 2014 and high-fiving our burgeoning community on the final stops of the Storytelling With Heart Tour (including our epic Portland return).
In the weeks to come, we will have so much more to share about our time touring the continent, but until then: Spring is in full swing, and chances are the weather where you are will fully represent that fact.
The weekend is calling.
Two days is more than enough time to explore the beauty around you—whatever you find: somehow, somewhere.
In the effort to kick-start some inspiration on your end, we’d like to invite you to check out and imbue what’s been inspiring us lately.
After all, it goes both ways: when you are inspired, you will inspire others. Because it can be that easy—by appreciating something dazzling, something amazing, something simply new, you will find inspiration. And inspiration is contagious.
Here is what to read, watch, listen to, and do this weekend to discover what it means to not let your time escape you.
1. Read this: the Wildwood Chronicles.
With the third and final book in Colin Meloy’s fantasy series recently released, there’s no better time to start from the beginning with Wildwood.
Meloy you may recognize as the lead singer and songwriter for the Portland-based Decemberists, and so the nominally young adult trilogy is crafted as an ode to, among other things, the Rose City, adventure, imagination, environmentalism, family, and the power of youth.
The story follows 12-year-old Prue, who’s lured into the Wood, the impregnable wilderness which non-fictional Portlanders know as Forest Park, when her baby brother is kidnapped by a murder of crows.
While the Wood only exists to Outsiders as a giant mystery, inside Prue finds a whole society of humans and anthropomorphic animals operating separately from the considerably more modern Portland proper, the two worlds divided by an invisible, magic barrier.
There are many reasons to revel in Meloy’s three-piece story—that his female protagonist is resourceful, brave, and bristling with imagination; that he treats his young intended audience as intelligent instead of talking down to them; or that he balances traditional storytelling with a relentlessly refreshing voice.
But the biggest message to crib from Wildwood?
Remarkable mystery—and all of the eye-opening adventure that comes with it—is not worlds away. It’s in your backyard: look for it.
Let curiosity guide you.
2. Watch this: Matryoshka.
This short film by writer/director Kevin Shahinian—which he shot with no crew, guerilla style, over six days—follows the international story of Sasha and Yulia, two Russian immigrants poised on the eve of their wedding—which, to the chagrin of lots of family and friends back home, they’ve decided to have in America.
What's more amazing: this is actually a wedding film for the real-life couple, a story of their love and those that support them told with grand cinematic scope.
After Sasha gives Yulia a Russian nested doll as an early wedding present—a doll which belonged to his grandmother, packed with a special keepsake at its core—Yulia decides to travel back to Moscow to create a wedding video with well-wishes from all the people who couldn’t attend as something of a special surprise for Sasha.
Yulia, of course, has a surprise in store for her too.
To give it away would be to uncover the film’s layers much too quickly, which like the titular doll reveals more and more wonderful secrets over time. Instead, Shahinian describes his purpose in making the film:
MATRYOSHKA is as much a tribute to those who leave their homeland as it is a celebration of the people who touch our lives and guide us directly and indirectly on our path as we navigate moments of fate and coincidence.
Worlds apart from family and friends, Sasha and Yulia could easily feel lost amongst their adopted culture, yet even so far removed they draw guidance from those they love most.
A community isn’t just a loving support system, it’s a group of guides, a bunch of beacons to light your way when you have no idea where to turn next.
Which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily: not knowing where to turn next. But sometimes the best reason to go out and explore is that you’ve been given a direction to head in.
3. Listen to this: your friend’s music collection.
No one needs a lesson in how the iPod and MP3 altered the very foundation of modern music consumption, but leave it to Questlove to provide some valuable insight into how to find new music in a seemingly endless sea of accessible possibilities.
I feel like the new version of [sharing music] is: “Each one, teach one.” Like, spread it around so that it lasts forever.
Record Store Day is coming up soon, which is one way that music-makers have tried to revitalize the once-exhilarating pastime of crate digging and finding some great piece of music you otherwise knew absolutely nothing about.
But according to Questlove, though technology has made music collecting itself nearly obsolete, the actual process of discovery is still well within reach—and more accessible than ever.
The spirit of exploration is so much more than having access—it is the deeply held belief that not only will you find something amazing, you will find something nearly perfect in the moment.
Borrow a friend’s music collection this weekend—chances are it fits on a drive or a device smaller than a paperback book—and immerse yourself in hours of music you’ve never heard before.
Take a walk with headphones. Do some yardwork with a boombox. You’ll hear something that will fit perfectly within those moments.
4. Do this: go somewhere new.
“Thanks, Story & Heart,” we know you’re saying out loud at the moment, “for finally giving me that reason to go to Rio!”
We’re thinking about a shorter journey, actually.
Walk to an unfamiliar locale—within your hometown. Bike to a park you’ve never set foot in before. Order a coffee at the shop you always pass but of which you’ve never actually looked inside. Sit and read a book in a corner of your house or your apartment or your kitchen, a corner you rarely, if ever, have inhabited.
To explore is to embrace inspiration at its purest: keeping oneself open to new mysteries, to new perspectives, to new directions—to the new.
Make no plan except for one: to simply, and without hesitation, go.
And contrary to popular belief, “the new” doesn’t have to be a far-off ideal, or a land beyond everything you know and hold dear, but something well within reach.
This weekend, reach for something new—be it book, film, music, or adventure, you’ll grasp something that will inspire you.
And of course we’re always open to recommendations. Share them in the comments below; perhaps something that inspires you will inspire others. There’s magic in that.