Saturday, March 13, 2010
I am leaving for Berlin in two days. Yeah, Berlin GERMANY. My great grandmother came over on a boat in 1913, leaving her German roots (which were more specifically planted somewhere in Russia off the Wolga River) and headed West, young man. And now I've started a fantastic journey which involves quite a bit of heading East. Towards the rising sun. Poetry Alert - this concept is pinging on quite a few levels for me. The idea of Going West is a deeply ingrained American, perhaps even masculine, and definitely youthful spirit. Our young country went West 160+ years ago, searching for land, hope, gold... any number of symbols of American freedom. The West has, for a long time represented so much about the American spirit of space, independence, the future.
The New World is the West.
And for maybe more than a few years I have been drifting back East. Back to Atlanta - sure, that's an obvious one. Over to the Old World of Germany, where East and West have only recently been on speaking terms. But there are other metaphors that I can't help but apply as well. Eastern spirituality has been calling to me lately - yogic retreats, Hindu prayer groups, poly-theistic notions of God within everyone and everything. What does it mean to feel this need to unstitch myself from the fabric of generations of ambition and progress? Am I just getting old, too tired to push further West? Is there any meaning at all in this faintest of patterns? What's left to discover and explore?
When we got to the Grand Canyon last May, I had this little game I would play with myself. I would pretend that I was a pioneer, traveling for years across the uncharted trails of the Midwest, dragging my restless family in tow, not knowing or being able to explain why I needed to keep moving or where the hell I figured we'd end up. And I would imagine that insane moment of vertigo when after the hundredth boring hill you looked up and saw the canyon gaping out in front of you. 'Oh crap.' And 'Oh wow.' In the same breath.
There IS something new about being pulled East. Something more feminine, more creative, in a way the opposite of the pioneering spirit, in the way that one side of the coin is the opposite of the other. If going West is the Young Man's dream, maybe going East is the Young Woman's path. Or maybe I just like to travel.
And one last note: the link I placed up there is a link to the fundraiser campaign we are hosting to generate some financial support for this international collaboration* which has already brought me so much expansion, and may in the future (as it builds momentum) support other wandering artists like me. If you wish to contribute in any way at all, I would be very grateful, even simply for your thoughts and well-wishes. Thanks in advance. -T
*International Collaboration: I am traveling with a small group of artists to Berlin to perform a Fassbinder play titled Bremen Coffee. I play the lead. I will also be doing comedy improv shows every night after the play. It is a dream come true.
Posted by Tara Ochs at 5:13 PM