Seek the Encounter

This weekend I was lucky enough to participate in a three-day intensive improv workshop with the insurmountably talented Rob Adler. As part of the exercise, he asked us to encapsulate our experience into words. “Reflect on the experience, ” he said.  “Hold onto it by sharing it.” As much as I want to bask in the glow of the work we did as an ensemble and keep the work to myself, Rob is right. I have to open the box and let it out, it is the only way to hold onto it.

Seek the Encounter

What is the where?

the soft give of the laminate floor closing the space between our feet and it

squeaks of barefoot toes softly padding toward old friends

and new

sense the space around us, dense, pliable, malleable

porous streams of people weaving themselves into my space

then out

then in again, but this time

they stop

take a collective breath

and see me.

Seek the encounter.

where the

dull hum of florescent lights cast tungsten tones onto dirty, beige walls

see the color: orange, now yellow, now red, now green, now black

now orange again

one at a time we move through space, between us and feel

blind faith leading us away from our limitations

embrace the fear, the sting of unknown, heightened senses

see with your ears

then stop

take a collective breath

and hear me.

Seek the encounter.

where the

palpable beats of our hearts, rhythmic and tribal move us as one organism

driven by the collective experience

we mirror

follow no leader, just see, and hear, and feel, and move

toward one another, morphing, changing, transforming

again and again and again until you are me and I am you and we are we

hand in hand we sprint toward the unknown

then stop

take a collective breath

and become

one.

Almost Paradise

When you think of paradise, what do you picture? Sandy beaches with coconut palms waving in the breeze? Peaceful, clear water that looks as though it’s made of glass? That’s usually what I picture, but on Thursday I think I changed my mind. I think paradise looks more like this:

IMG_4660

and this

IMG_4664

and this

IMG_4690

To me, paradise is 140 American 7th graders, gathered together at Ground Zero in Hiroshima, Japan 70 years after the United States annihilated the city. I know this may sound odd because to most people, the thought of 140 7th graders anywhere at any time conjures images of panic and pre-teen chaos. Images of Hiroshima City following the bomb drop are heartbreaking, sickening. But to me, this image of young kids learning about and paying tribute to those who lost their lives in an unthinkable tragedy, is beautiful. To me, that’s paradise.

Let me give you some background:

In class we’ve been studying the Pacific War and I’ve asked kids questions like; Can war be justified? How does war effect people? What are the long term consequences of war? etc. We’ve studied strategy, survivor stories, the science behind the Atomic Bomb, and Hiroshima’s heroic desire to become a symbol of world peace. Then, we took the kids to see the city firsthand. To hear the stories, see the remnants,  and feel the magnitude of the event. They felt it. My amazing thirteens listened to the lost and they felt it: an overwhelming sense of the need for peace.

If you haven’t visited the Peace Park, Museum, or Victims Memorial it’s worth a visit. Hiroshima is a beautiful city with meandering rivers and parks. Peaceful gatherings of friends and families can be seen strolling past Hiroshima Dome, pondering the past, looking toward the future. It’s hard to believe that in my aunt’s lifetime, this stunning jewel of a city was a place of horror and indescribable inhumanity.  That’s what makes Hiroshima so remarkable. Rather than harbor anger and hatred, Hiroshima retaliated with a desire to be a symbol of peace and to bring an end to nuclear warfare.

Hiroshima is such a powerful reminder of the wreckless remnants of war and the overwhelming need for world compassion that when I snapped the photo of 140 13-year-olds in that remarkable place, I felt a sense of peace.

It really is paradise.

To learn more about Hiroshima City, please visit http://visithiroshima.net/world_heritage/a-bomb_dome.html