A Gift for All of Us

I grew up in a rural area of central Wisconsin called City Point. There’s no town there–just a bar, a small Lutheran church, a railroad crossing, a billboard advertising gasoline and a casino 30 miles up the road. If you drive down one of the quiet country roads where most of the residents live in their scattered homes, you will definitely see a lot of woods, probably spot a cranberry marsh, and if you are lucky, cross paths with a bald eagle feeding on a deer carcass on the side of the road.

It’s been difficult for my parents to keep up with me since I left home. Since then, I’ve lived on both coasts of the U.S. I had a stint in China after college. I spent several years in the Marines and on deployments. It has always been easier for me to make the trip back to Wisconsin to visit them and my other family members. That’s why it was such a pleasant surprise when my mother told me that she and my father were coming to Providence to visit Carolyn and me at the end of November.

It turned out that my mother had a conference in New Jersey. She wrote to me in an email, “You’re not going to believe this, but I’ve actually convinced your dad to come out with me. You can give us a tour of the East Coast!” I explained to my mom that the East Coast is a big place, and New Jersey isn’t exactly right next to Providence, Rhode Island. But after looking at the location of her conference on the map, I realized that my parents would be right across the Hudson River from Manhattan. I wasn’t going to let them travel all the way from City Point to New York City and just take pictures of the iconic Manhattan skyline from New Jersey. We made a trip out of it.

The details of our trip from Rhode Island to New York City are captured in the audio of Session 73: Gift. All of the sounds used in this one, all nineteen of them, are from locations and moments that we shared together during that time. The trip was an opportunity for my parents to see the life that Carolyn and I are building in Rhode Island together: Beavertail Lighthouse in Jamestown, a P-Bruins Game, Downtown Providence and the What Cheer Writers Club. We also got to explore Manhattan and locations like Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and Times Square. 

Carolyn and I have recorded several hundred (1,000+?) sounds for Endless Beautiful over the past few years. During that time, I have increasingly become a more careful listener, and I would like to think, more aware of my surroundings. We record a lot. For every good two minute recording, I probably throw away three others or only use a few seconds as a transition from one sound to the next. That being said, the recorders are not always on. For the sake of efficiency, I have been trained to take an inventory of a given moment in real-time, understand the different sonic and contextual elements, the different actors, emotions at play, and ask, “Will this be valuable for a listener?” and I guess more importantly, “Is this worth remembering?” If the answer is yes to those questions, or if I get that feeling in my gut that tells me something special is coming up, I hit record, and try to take in as much of this wonderful existence that I have to the privilege to be a part of with my own eyes and ears.

That’s right. The recordings are only merely an artifact. Stitched together into a session, the sounds can serve as creative rocket fuel, they can juxtapose ideas, serve as bizarre, soothing, and maybe even disturbing pieces of art, but ultimately, Endless Beautiful is meant to be a reminder to encourage us to take a closer look and listen of the world around us–and to talk about that shared experience. I relearn these lessons in some small way when I edit and put a session together, and again when I create while listening to it, and yet again when I have meaningful conversations about what we have all created, and for that, I am truly blessed.

Thank you. 

Please accept this gift. I can’t wait to hear about all of your thoughts, memories, and experiences.

~ Lucas