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Field Recordings

by Joe Nasta 12 months ago in self help
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a framework I used to connect to my authentic self and observe my surroundings

Field Recordings
Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

It feels like every moment of every day, I am rushing, a river cascading from one thing to the next. It makes me long for a moment to sit, a rock in the stream, and be authentically myself as I observe the world around me.

When I try to recall a moment when I was authentically myself, I don't think of a time where I was interacting with people or performing a version of myself in public. I remember moments where I sat alone in a park or in nature to meditate and reconnect with myself before returning my attention to my immediate sorroundings, fully recharged and ready to give the most of myself to the people I care about.

In the summer of 2020, months into the Pandemic, many of us had enough alone time to begin unearthing our authentic selves. I began documenting parts of my day by meditating for a few moments, recognizing my inhales and exhales as the exchange of energy and lifeforce that they are, and then paying attention to myself in relation to the Earth as well as the living and nonliving elements around me. I used a form of Field Recordings introduced to me in a Liminal Lab workshop to keep track of these moments.

Now, over a year after I first used these tools, I am returning to those recordings. In them, I see sparks of myself that I have a hard time connecting to now that the pace of my life has picked up again. I feel overwhelmed, stressed, and unsure of myself. In these Field Recordings, I see a calm and grounded version of myself that I can reconnect with. I am reminded of how I can take a moment to be still, breathe, and recharge before observing the beauty all around me. I am reminded of how to let go of unnecessary stress and be authentically me.

22 July 2020

Site, "Bench on the top of North Hill, Jefferson Park"

Conditions, "Overcast, but warm. Chris said it rained earlier, but the weather said it is not supposed to rain. The grey-blue light. Muggy, a bit."

Senses, "I'm wearing the Defund SPD mask and it has a bit of a scent--a human, good one--mint from my gum, too. I like the smell. It's making my mouth sweat and I feel the steam I had to take my glasses off because of: my sight is limited. A blurry ant moving really quickly in circular waves across the ribbed concrete. Purple weed flowers. An entrance to a path down the hill I've never seen. The grass necks merge into a textured wall of yellows. I hear my music, but the airplanes above, even over my music. I feel sweat on my face, forehead, chest & abs, armpits, calves, under my socks. My muscles feel a little sore but strong. I have the desire to sit straight up."

Soma, "Sore, but strong. My rollerblades are on & I'm sitting on a bench. I feel a little tired in my head & tension in my hamstrings but I slept the best I have in a while last night."

Stories, "Chris woke up at 8 AM for the plumber, who unclogged all our drains and installed the new kitchen faucet--I did therapy, rollerbladed, meditated, am writing. I feel happy today, only in a slightly harried way. I biked with Una yesterday & jumped into the lake in my underwear off the bridge in SLU park. Erick voice messages w/ me all day--he is very genuine & that makes me feel calm and happy when I talk to him. I told him I'd fly right down to Guadalajara if it wasn't a pandemic."

Humans, "The usual park goers: A runner with a neck wrap mask (grey) who's lapped me five times. Kids playing, older couples walking, dog owners. It's not especially nice so the normal small amount of weekday park people (what a weird phrase--I didn't want to say "goers" again)"

Fuana, "I mostly notice the dogs of course. A little boy ran up the hill towards me blading & smiled at me when he passed my bench."

Flora, "The tall grasses. The trees, even in the distance. I can see the sound & the treetops between here & there--even across the water in one small section on the left. I'm thinking about wind blowing tree seeds over the sound..."

Objects, "Roller Blades!! Fanny Pack (Muji!)"

Language, "leg movements, circular. brown seed, traveling parts of living things/self, movement"

Tools/Technology, "my body, blades, pen & paper"

Practices/Procedures, "skating, connecting with the trees, meditation"

04 Aug 2020

Site, "Jefferson Park in a tree shadow"

Conditions, "cool in the shade, sunny, breezy, very bright."

Senses, "I smell grass clippings--the landscapers are mowing the whole park. I tast a little blood & feel swelling in my mouth, I don't know from what but it hurts a little, I hear the rustle of the shrub next to me, the mowers hum across the park, baby birds, cars & wind like the ocean, a plane whistling. I see green, yellow, brown. My body is stiff."

Soma, "My body is stiff. My legs are bent but curved. I have been craving the ground often. I still get dizzy when I rise."

Stories, "Silence."

Humans, "Hardly anyone at the park. A couple but I still feel alone. Virtually Erick. We kind of said we were falling in love last night. I do love this intensity. I tis special no matter what happens."

Fuana, "Just the birds. Little swallows. I don't have enough words for birds--I should learn."

Flora, "The half dead grass. The wehat-like reeds where the hilltop turns down. Shrub with small leaves & wire stems (red stem), pine cones--wow yes I am under a pine tree old and round thick, strong, unbothered. Sap dried on its cracking trunk. I love him."

Objects, "A paper bag littered on the circular lawn."

Language,"stillness, mysterious swollenness, toothaches"

Tools/Technology,"Audio Recording, Photography"

Practices/Procedures, "Record now--listen & write later as a memory of ache/swelling"

07 Aug 2020

Site, "River by Lake Kachess: Rachel River?"

Conditions, "A little chill but warmed by the sun. A breeze. Glistening. Dense but gaseous."

Senses, "That dirt, tree and freshwater smell that brings me back to Deep Woods. It's fresh. I can taste the dirt in it more than smell it. Decomposing leaves. Pine needles. A vapor rises off the water not visible but clean and shining. I feel every bug as it lands on me: flies, mosquitoes on my forearm, abdomen, side, shoulder blade, forehead, neck. My mouth a stale human taste, bacteria and spit in a dry throat. I hear the river running, the rush of water: Power ricocheting and cascading from rock to rock, echoing. I am here. Dring water, chug: the clean taste."

Soma, "I'm relaxed sitting on a rock, legs extended in front of me, shirt off, bandana around my neck. My skin is starting to warm. The bugs touch me, and it doesn't irritate me but sensually startles me. I love them, but it's still overwhelming to be touched."

Stories, "Woke up early, finished packing the car, drove out here (crammed next to Max in the backseat). Today is Chris's birthday. In the North Bend Safeway Starbucks, the barista acted like we were idiots for mispronouncing Kachess. Almost all the campsites were taken, but we found a secret one off an almost unnoticeable trail: It's not remote but it's peaceful. I set my hammock and tarp up as well as I ever have--there were no perfect spots but I love the way it turned out. We sat around, Crhis & Cass playing backgammon & me drawing with pastels. We just walked over here & explored a bit. It reminds me of being young--I wasn't so worried about everything then. I felt lighter, although just as severe. I won't talk to Erick all weekend, which will be a good break to absorb & breathe without distraction. I'm not going to drink this weekend. I'm going to drink water, draw, and write. (camping young & fantasizing, longing even then)"

Humans, "Chris & Cassie are up the river a bit. A family w/ 2 young kids just came to the shore beside me. The dad is fishing, which must be good in the deep area (good for swimming, although frigid). Lots of campers. It's not remote but still peaceful."

Fuana, "Max. The dog with this family. Bugs. A chipmunk. Fish in the deep pockets of the river. Mosquitoes. Horseflies."

Flora, "Pine. So much Pine: the steep slope rising just above us is lined with it. A riverside plant, tree I think. There must be more nuance than "pine." I don't really know. Dead trees & half-dead trees, logs across the river. Wow, plants can be dead! What a simple realization."

Objects, "Rocks. I love them. Kairns. Fishing pole. The children's lunch boxes. Dog harnesses. Water bottle. White Claw. Removed Shoes and socks."

Language, "The plop of rocks hitting the surface. The bang of rock hitting rock. The echo of rock hitting bottom."

Tools/Technology, "Ears. Nose. Pen. Paper. Memory. Body Memory."

Practices/Procedures, "Close observation, field recordings, stillness & free write."

****This field recording framework was developed by Elæ Moss of The Operating System. Much thanks to them for creating this form and sharing it.****

self help

About the author

Joe Nasta

Hi! I'm Joe (ze/zir), a queer multimodal artist and writer. I work in Seattle & I write love poems.

@roflcoptermcgee on Instagram

@joenasta on TikTok

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