Today most of the Global-Lab Crew will return to their homes in the U.S. I have to sit and wonder what will be the most challenging part of their integration back into the lives they all put on hold to take this trip? In my case part of the challenge is the journey home. At the last minute I decided to stay an extra night in Beijing. I also thought that I may extend my trip and go on to another country from here. Why not, right??? I realized, in actuality that the anxieties I am experiencing have been brought on by feelings of not wanting to let go of this journey just yet. After you spend countless hours co-existing with 15 other people and their opinions and their voices in your head it's jarring when suddenly you are granted the space to just be alone with your own thoughts. My thought process went from- 40 days is such a long time to be with all these people, to- I wish it was longer than just 40 days!!! Saying farewell to the group yesterday in the airport brought me to the realization that the proper salutation is never goodbye but rather until next time. Maybe I am being a little sentimental here but I am really going to miss my crew. On the flip side is the undeniable fact that I have a bunch of new friends that understand- on some level-what I just went through.
So what can you learn from 40 days on the other side of the globe??? It brought me back to the basic elements of the experiential senses- sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Everyday over the past 40 I tried to stay very present to each situation we encountered and how I interpreted them through each of the sensory organs. I would try to focus on one or two things at a time otherwise it would quickly become overwhelming to the point where it numbs you. (Being a New Yorker teaches you how to build an invisible wall that is impenetrable by too much stimuli) So I released that mentality and allowed everything to seep in. I think it's similar to the way we experience as children where each day brings a million curious things to explore.
40 days also taught me to travel lighter, consume less and allow for the loss of material possession. When you pack up and take off for a trip like this, if you have never done it before, you may think to yourself," I packed really well, got everything I need." Then as time goes by you wish your bag was lighter and you figure out what you really don't need to survive. I also had to ask myself several times during shopping excursions, "Do I really need this object, or can my experience, memories and pictures do the trick?" I think everyone learned a little bit about the difference between want and need when it was necessary. (Of course I did purchase some pretty cool souvenirs!!!) And then at times many of us were tested by breakage, loss or just general malfunctions of our tangible objects. On the last day of our trip -somehow- I lost my camera. Even though I was obviously upset all I could do was put my hands up, shrug my shoulders and say, "what are you gonna do!!!"
So here it is. The end of the Pratt in Tibet trip. I think it will be really interesting to see how each of us will now offer our individual interpretations of this collective experience through our work. A diverse group of artists went and infiltrated Tibet thinking we may leave some kind of lasting impression only to have the richness of this country, its culture and the people embed its way into our hearts forever!!!
To the Pratt Tibet Crew- Than you all for being you.