I’ve just returned ‘home’ from my mid-year ‘vacation’ to Europe. Pardon all the quotation marks, but something about them is helping me compartmentalize my otherwise un-compartmentalizable thoughts.
Before heading to England 12 days ago for the CHIME Performance Asia conference and then to Paris for a bit of dairy-topia + red wine rejuvenation, I thought that a break from China would be a clarifying thing. Something about the distance, the return to ‘the West’, the cool weather, the conference, the visible sky, the lack of hot spices – all of it would be like looking at my life through a satellite. All of it in one frame and color-coordinated in areas of varying size that corresponded to their importance.
Instead, I find myself back ‘home’ in China with no framework or tidy packaging but a messy finger painting of all things; ideas, emotions, inspirations, missings, ambitions, compartmentalizings.
At the conference, someone summed up the tidying up of all these things as a prism; which focuses many beams of light into a single one, clearer and brighter than its contributors. I have always thought of it in the reverse, one source into an impossible web of fractured beams.
The time away has done this. An impossible web, which I currently see no way out of – nor do I necessarily want to. Chinese shadow puppetry has consumed me in a (let’s hope, healthy) way. I’ve had an amazing 5 months and have another 5 to go. But up until now, even though the project itself has been big, my intentions have been decidedly set, or square. Meeting all the researcher/practitioners at the lovely UK conference, seeing old friends and making new ones, visiting incredible museums and being in a mid-world between my old home and new – was part of what started to jumble my mind. Doesn’t that always happen with new stimuli? Refraction. But it was more than that. Forward thinking, thinking outwards. Where does one go after a year of this? Where do I take it, where does it take me?
For a week, I wandered around Europe, sat in cafes, looked at beautiful things, sat in the airport, flew on the airplane, and hiked home in the sweltering Beijing heat inside this bright web of light.
I’m learning to love the prism. Or, I’m preparing to learn to love the prism.
Perhaps this is what happens as we get older and wiser. As children, we are lovers of all things and then, gradually, life and school and adulthood force us to focus those beams into a digestible, compartmentalized edible sound bite. And perhaps we are happy for it to be smaller and edible. But as we focus, more and tighter, it begins to fracture again. Within that small compartment we’ve chosen there are millions of possibilities.
And, it’s just the ‘beginning’, again.
~Thanks for reading