Been a couple of weeks of full on fun and adventure. I’ve been pretty immersed in teaching, clowning around, connecting with people and the land. I’ve been in a deep practice of total presence, I am rarely anywhere but where I am.
My mind is occupied by what is happening more often than what could be happening or what has happened. I’d say only about 8% of my thoughts lately have even gone else where. If I take a perspective switch, thinking about where I come from verses where I am now, I’m baffled by the wonder of my reality. Change and acceptance of such happens as immediately as if in a dream. Perhaps this is the dream, perhaps I have transcended reality by accepting that all things are exactly as my heart/mind/spirit whatever calls them to be.
The last three weeks have contained the following highlights:
– Taught a fifteen hour clowning workshop in Delhi. It was my first clown intensive. The first day, I tried hard at being an organized teacher with an official lesson plan with clear lessons to learn. I failed at this miserably, as that day the workshop was bulky, forced, and awkward. Next two days, I just taught freely. Lesson learned. Never try to be anything, but simply be and you will become.
The more I trusted myself, the more I discovered. I found new lessons/games/activities to express what I was trying to communicate. Clown is difficult to teach because it’s not concrete, there isn’t a proven science to what is funny. We’ve noticed themes, but in the end, sometimes we laugh and sometimes we don’t.
Clown is about juxtaposition or opposites. You have to be able to be high and low, big and small, making switches within a matter of seconds. You have to ‘be buoyant’ my teacher Ronlin Foreman would say. In a sense, you have to overcome duality to be able to play both sides of it. It’s something you can try to explain, but mostly it’s something you have to experience, something you have to do. We all know when it works, and we all feel awkward when it doesn’t. We learn from both success and failure and embrace both equally.
– Now remember, I am also teaching students whose second language is English… And the whole class as different proficiency levels of speaking and understanding. Not only do I have to explain these things simply and clearly, I have to repeat myself at least three times. If they do something different than what I explained, then I have to embrace it as my failure and embrace their offering however it may come. We all learn something.
– India is the most confusing place. It’s also super inefficient. It feels like mercury is always retrograde (an astrological time when things are seemingly harder to get done). I find that, that if you can condition yourself to be unattached to the plan or to certain outcome– the adventure can be quite delightful, filled with surprises and humor of mishaps. Life creates a more interesting story than the one you planned in your head. The best plan is always an outline of what you’d like to happen, but being open to how and when it happens!
– Peacocks are the most beautiful chickens. I was once told in India that a male peacocks tear is how the female gets pregnant. I’m not sure if that meant the female peacock, or if I get pregnant… Regardless, when I’ve seen peacocks, I now keep my distance.
– I joined a band of mystics. Well, Safety Sue and I both joined.
– I joined an Osho Cult for a week. Osho is a mystical guru that gained a huge following many years back. I was asked to buy and wear a maroon robe, to which I immediately was like “what the fuck, no!” … But, I did it. After a week of “opening my heart” and doing tantra exercises with strangers… I came to love every person there. I will likely never embrace or undergo any sort of religious following or workshop of any deity or human– I love my own sense of discovery too much… But these OSHO people were all complete joy to be around. Each loving, accepting, and playful. They actually all embraced me as their village clown. I laughed at “inappropriate” times and mimicked many of the leaders/teachers/organizers. I think through my presence, they learned the power of being open and present, in not just the mind or heart, but also the body and the spirit– all connected all as one, all perfect as it currently stands.
– Spent a week in Varanasi… Where I saw Magie and Spencer (my KC/Thailand cronies) AND Jesse and Raj (my travel buddies from December/January). It was so neat to have a mixing of worlds! They also helped me shoot some Safety Sue videos, to be released later this week!
See Jesse’s photography at http://inspirationtravels.com/
Ready Magie and Spencer’s sweet blog distantvisionsofcurry.com
– I saw a snake charmer and held a cobra around my neck. I felt that a part of my journey in India was to overcome the last bits of my earlier fear of snakes. The man said “no, no, not poisonous.” I believed him and had this mystical creature around my neck. Soon the snake went back to it’s snake basket, and on it’s way the other snake bit it and poison came out. Right on. I also had the secret belief that by holding a snake my weird, peeling skin on my heart chakra area would clear up. I have noticed no difference… I will release that belief now.
– Danced on the ghats (river bank) with a stranger and two hours later someone in the middle of the city recognized me. I asked if that meant I was “famous”. In India, so many things are famous.
(photos by Spencer Sight)
– Also every store in India also has “the best” products. There is a lot of exaggerating in India or adding ‘masala’ (spice). One man came up to me, making fun of his own culture. “Will you come to my shitty shop? It has the shittiest scarves, shittiest clothes, everything is complete shit. I have the shittiest workers and it’s the shittiest location, but will you please come to my shitty shop? By the way, my shitty name is Shit.” He went on for five/ten minutes. It was impressive and odd.
-Took a train to Bodhgaya, the tree under which Buddha received his ‘enlightenment’. I felt drawn to go there since the beginning of the trip, it’s like the one touristy thing on my list.
I took the train from Varanasi. It was super hot and I had an intense case of hay fever. I was dazed. The train arrived at Gaya, and departed from Gaya. I watched out the window as the sign for “Gaya” passed by. Oh. Wait. That was, uh, my stop. I grabbed my bag in order to leap off the train, but an Indian man blocked the door “very dangerous, don’t do it.” …
My thoughts were as follows:
“You are an idiot.”
“I can still jump this train! Let me out.”
“Oh Buddha! You’ve done it again. You and your lessons of unattachment. You funny man you.”
“Well, that’s it. You’ve missed your chance at enlightenment.”
“No, Hailey. You are the Buddha and always have been. All the incite you need has always been within you. You have already attained what you seek.”
From Varanasi to my later destination of Kolkata was twenty four hours of being a train or being on a train platform. The metaphors of being on a train: being on the right track, the right path, always going to or from, waiting for the train… Hard to articulate the words of the clarity I received from the experience as a whole. As I’ve said before, enlightenment isn’t a destination, it’s a way of being a practice and journey to conscious thinking and awareness of the experience of existence as a whole.
It took Buddha 40 days of sitting in one place to achieve enlightenment. Me? I don’t know when it happened as it’s been a process. I just know things are different for me in a big way. I see and feel it in everything I do. I felt the seeds of it in the recent years in the states, but here in the East… it has just happened. I can feel the difference in every fiber of my being and it hasn’t gone away. I will spend the next while of my existence learning how to articulate it better for those who care to listen/read. I’m actively trying to find ways to universally communicate.
– Currently in Agartala, Tripura. It’s over in the arm of India, next to Bangladesh (which I popped into for a whole minute). I’m super thankful to be teaching clown/movement/meditation for students at the National School of Drama. I have been given a wonderful place to stay, have been meeting such great, pure people. Out of all my travel in India, this is the place feels the most like home/feels the most like a place I could set up camp for awhile. It’s a unique fusion off tribal culture, modern life, and communism (the kind that brings order). There are great museums, wild pythons, and many thunderstorms.
The school here that is training actors as teachers— for children. They’ve been a challenging group to teach as their both checked out and in and the same time. They are all in their heads, but aware of their bodies. They are mostly older than me. I feel very surrendered in their class to teaching the first activity that comes to mind, then they ask the question “what is the purpose”— which i always encourage students to find on their own.
– Saw the most badass mask and dance performance. it put america to shame. tap-dance with with no shoes (katik), and full on mask work with dramatic/dynamic acrobatics. i was jaw dropped for serious.
-The Bangladesh boarder has a daily flag ceremony. This involves the SILLIEST walk I have ever seen. I will share videos when I get back home. Or maybe Safety Sue will do something on it.
When taking down the flag, they also do an Indian taps. It’s a joyous little trumpet celebrating the day. It sounds like “Yay! Today was great. The sun was shining and I want to do the same thing again tomorrow!!!” The contrast to the depressing one that America does “day is done, gone the sun..”/”Why live! The same thing is just going to happen again tomorrow.” Tigger verus Eeyore.
– I’ve received many confirmations on writing a book lately. I’m doing it! I’m trying!
– It’s hard to imagine not being here in India. I feel fully adjusted to my nomad clown, teacher, saddu lifestyle. Memories of the past and the states come to me from time to time, but they’re all things I feel comfortable releasing. I will be applying for my ten year visa so I am able to come and go as I please. I keep being told “INDIA NEEDS YOU.” and being asked to stay. I say go where there is the most opportunity. My big Hollywood career I’ve always dreamed about could happen here. Only it’s Bollywood instead, which I think we can all agree I’m better suited for anyway (besides not being Indian).
– I think India could challenge Disneyland for being “the most magical place on earth.” Hard to believe I leave in one week. Then it’s a month in Nepal. Then back to the states until at least the end of July. We’ll see how opportunity unfolds.
– And in closing…
This a thought I had the other day:
“When the thing you miss most about America is tortilla chips, you’re really missing Mexico.”