Pale Blue Dot - Reflections for the new year by Melanie Ida Chopko

This year I've thought a lot about stories, the stories I tell myself about my own life and the larger world I witness around me. And I know more than ever that the extent to which I am exposed to the horrors of the world is the extent to which I need to seek out its beauty. 

I'm wary of blotting out 2017 completely, with all of its loss and explicit displays of hate. For when I zoom into my - to our - grief and anger, it always quietly reveals a central pearl of love, the pearl of giving a damn. For so many years I didn't know how to slow down enough to respect that pearl, care for it, instead of whack-a-moling my emotions away. But when I do, there's space. Alot of it.

So, at the very beginning of this year, I'm thinking a lot about the profound practice of zooming in and out, both into the dignity of our experience, and out to the wholeness of it. I recently was so moved by Carl Sagan's reflections on a photograph of Earth, "The Pale Blue Dot" monologue from Cosmos.

That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines...every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child...

Every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. 
- Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Somehow acknowledging all of it, respecting the wholeness of all its brokenness and beauty, I'm less drowned by it. Somehow there is the new spaciousness to do the work I need to do in this time.  

I don't any better way to hold vast, varied truth than through honoring the basics - sleep, meditation, real food, connection & empty-space-outbreath/play. May our New Year's intentions hold these as well.

Also, news to me - some most stunning contributions of humanity yet happened this year - read about 99 of them

Love,
Melanie

PS. In the Dark was fantastic, and I'll get some video to you soon. And, what a year to celebrate in my music-as-a-force-for-good department, below! You can read more about all of these and the goofs/splats/dreams behind the scenes, here.
 

UPCOMING IN THE REAL WORLD
Thursday, January 25th
- House Concert (stand by just a liiittle bit longer for deets!)
Friday, January 26th - Private Show
Singing Outside the Shower: 21st Century Folk Repertoire
January 10th - February 14th @ The Freight

gorgeous, obscure & soft-hearted by Melanie Ida Chopko

You may be sick of hearing Jingle Bells by now, so I wanted to share with you the current musical jewelry in my mind, favorite winter and Christmas music from Sufjan Stevens, beloved friends Robinson & Rohe and of course, Charlie Brown. We've got songs instructing humanity (Midwintersong & Lo' How a Rose), reflecting on seasonal depression (Sister Winter), family christmas gone awry (finally, right?! That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!) and just plain ol' bad ass goodness (Mary Had a Baby)I think you'll love them - write back and tell me what you think!

(I can almost play that Vince Guaraldi piano piece - whoa! A Christmas/musical development miracle.)

I'm wishing you a Happy New Year and days rich with warmth and connection as we walk in the dark.
 

As the light leaves by Melanie Ida Chopko

point arena, ca

point arena, ca

Mostly every year I host a winter/Christmas concert in my living, and this year I'm so pleased to share it in a larger way on December 17th. This devotional music is my remaining link to the spiritual community of my childhood, and each year I find even deeper meaning reclaiming the Christmas story and having a more nuanced relationship with winter.

TO THE DARK with special guest Kin
Friday, December 15th

House Concert
details coming soon

Sunday, December 17th
The Monkey House, Berkeley
RSVP here for tickets & address
6:30pm doors, 7-8:30 show
(we know it's a school night!)


The carols acknowledge the grit and darkness in our world, in our own human hearts, and call forth our light. Clear directions to care for the most vulnerable and imperfect members of our communities, choosing to see their divinity no matter the surroundings, their homeland, their history.

In contrast to a culture obsessed with production, these are songs of reverence to the seasons of fallow fields and quiet reflection that make possible a year of growth. To the rich humous of the quiet, the empty, the unknown - the very things depression tugged at me for years to make space for.

They are stories nudging us to take direction from ancestors, stars and secret signs. To know with treat with dignity both grief and uncertainty, and see the pin pricks of light and love emerge as we do so.

My friend Kin will join me for this series, and we'll play old world carols, songs of the solstice, funky Christmas spirituals, and new songs too. And, of course, have you sing along.