winter wonderland and thinking differently
I came here thinking I would be starting a new work.
I knew I had not finished my old body of work…when I applied for the residency I thought “My PhD will be done and dusted by then”…
I did one thing to contribute to my new work. No I did two.
1. I showed up.
2. And I purchased a book in Helsinki called Homo Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow. I have yet to read the first word of the first chapter. But the inside cover discussed what the book was about: it focused on fundamental questions such as “Where do we go from here?" And "How will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers?”
Little did I know that I would be able to answer these questions in four weeks time, without even reading a paragraph. I’ll explain.
At first it took me a few days to admit it was the PhD that needed attention. It would not let me go. I hedged around it when I talked to other artists about my work: "I’m writing a sort of book. Yes, one day I hope it will be published but not in this form perhaps"…gradually as we all started to relax around each other my guard dropped and I didn’t care so much what people thought. Funny how we protect our fragile personalities until we don’t.
As I write this its 6pm Sunday and I’m sipping a very bad very tiny bottle of bubbles. The bubbles taste very average, but my passion for what I am writing balances that out: what has happened these last weeks is something that I could not even have imagined, and for that, I could not be more grateful. I don’t think I am alone when I say, it has been life changing.
As theatre artists we sit somewhere between fact and fiction, truth and fibs, life and art. As artist/researchers we create work and then reflect on it. I have, over the last few years created three performance works with directors/collaborators Leah Mercer, Benjamin Knapton and musician/performer/composerTravis Ash. I want to share their endings:
The first play, EVE (award winning seasons at Metro Arts Brisbane followed by Blue Room Perth, 2012) ended with this: you may know the story of Oscar Wilde’s Selfish Giant. If not here it is: http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/SelGia.shtml
It is inspirational and it inspired the following writing. Eve is the giant:
The Child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, “You let me play once in your garden, today you shall come with me to my garden.” The Giant, who had grown old and feeble, followed the Child. Many months passed. When the Child returned to the garden, the Giant’s eyes were wide open, but the rest of her face had been nibbled away by rats. And though the smell made the Child heave, the Child knelt down and slowly opened the Giant’s mouth. Oh so gently the Child pulled out planet after planet after planet until the whole universe lit up (contributed in rehearsal by Daniel Evans inspired by Oscar Wilde, 2012).
Eve returned to the gods, the plants and the stars: Eve became universal consciousness.
So did she in fact die? I thought so when I performed her in two seasons, one in Brisbane, one in Perth a few years ago. But now I am not too sure. One Mind (see Larry Dossey's book by the same name. Brilliant. http://www.dosseydossey.com/larry/onemind.html).
My second play, HOME, (award winning season at La Boite as part of the 2012 Indie Season followed by a season at Queensland Theatre Company as part of the Diva Series 2015), a deconstruction of belonging, ended with this:
Aren’t we all a work in progress?
Aren’t we every person we’ve ever met, every place and time we’ve ever been, every tale we’ve ever heard, every story we’ve ever told?
We are huge!
This play acknowledged that you were me and I were you, I was place, time and story. I was universal consciousness, one-mind.
My third play, He Dreamed a Train (season at Brisbane Powerhouse in 2014 and a returned season 2017) by the same name as my brother’s book, still hasn’t found its finishing lines. The first season it did…it finished with “And I walked away”. But since being here I know I can’t. I can’t just walk away. Because there is nowhere to walk to. So I will want to say something that clarifies one-mind. That space between you and me, me and the stars…
Perhaps I’ll quote Emerson, he wrote an essay called The Over Soul:
We see the world piece by piece, as the sun the moon the animal the trees but the whole, of which these are shining parts, is the soul.
-- within man… is the soul of the whole.
That wise silence.
And this deep power in which we exist…the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object are one.
We see the world bit by bit, as the sun the moon the animal the tree but the whole, of which these are but shining parts,
The whole. is the soul (Emerson, The Over Soul)
Perhaps I’ll steal some of that…something like that. I don’t know.
But I do know this: that I was heading to an understanding of One Mind the moment I began this PhD pilgrimage in 2011, but I had no eyes to see, too busy with the busy.
It was only in this far land, thousands of miles away from home, with no internet, no television, no telephone…that the realization became perfectly clear: in fact it was on my daily walk that the arrow hit…
“We are interconnected” I said to the bird as it flew overhead.
“We are interconnected” I said to the little yellow flower that wasn’t there yesterday.
“We are interconnected” I yelled to the swan in the middle of the paddock.
Oh yes, ok, we know this. We all know this.
But do we really know this?
Because to know this, means we have to live differently.
To think we are ‘personalities’ is misleading.
To think we can do it alone is just downright funny.
To recognize myself in you and you in myself.
And not only you in me and me in you.
But me in the field, me in the flower, you in the lake, you in the rock…
Now we are starting to cook.
So that’s what happened to me, these last four weeks.
Many thousands of words written, but only very very recently, a universal understanding of what belonging means. It means one mind. It means that there is no distinction. Between you. And me.
This will take years for me to understand this on a cellular level:
1. Consciousness is the ear of the ear
2. The speech of the speech
3. The breath of the breath
4. The eye of the eye…
5. Consciousness is the light which illuminates the things on which it shines. (Larry Dossey)
But I will put my hand up.
I will show up.
EVE, along with He Dreamed a Train, has a return season at Brisbane Powerhouse end of June, through July, 2017