As I sit in my brother's apartment in Philadelphia the sounds of this rushing city fly through his windows. I leave the United States tomorrow. I am absorbing the thought of my departure. I look back on the things I have wanted for the people around me, for the people who have touched my life... for the people who have changed my life. I look back on the movement and sound of my own hometown. I see its children, its parents, its grandparents...and as this fast city's sounds bounce within these walls I find myself wondering how the world has moved those children, those parents and grandparents. I find myself wrapping my head around a balloon that is much too large for me to anchor tonight. (maybe in a few months)
Departures are a funny thing.
I have prepared for this departure for more than a year. I have sorted out the "items" that need be sorted. I sit in my brother's apartment listening to the sounds of this rushing city...I sit and I know this departure will spark the start of a journey who's power is beautiful and tremendous. I sit and I know, at the very least, my entire world (i feel the power of its tiny fragile size now more than ever) will be changed... in one year's time.
I was asked by someone, as they bid me their farewells to "keep hope alive". I will be in the Kingdom of Bhutan on Sunday. A place known as the world's last Shangri La, fueled by a culture steeped in artistic tradition and a political philosophy guided entirely by the well being of its people. The country's prosperity is measured by Gross National Happiness, rather than Gross National Product. As Bhutan enters the 21st century its leaders acknowledge that while they must modernize, they must also preserve those infinitely important foundations that have protected and sustained their country's unique culture throughout Bhutan's history. The Bhutanese are wise. They have seen what happens to a country when foreign ideals infiltrate its culture and shake its foundation. They have seen this and know, that the outcome of their modernization depends upon their YOUTH. Their people's well being depends upon the cultivation of their youth and Bhutan aims to provide their youth (who make up the majority of their country's population) with careful guidance in order to secure the Kingdom's future.
I travel to the Kingdom, so that I might offer my experiences and perspectives to its youth by exchanging art with them. (ART is the most universal language we can use) I travel to the Kingdom of Bhutan so that I might offer my services with the hope that its children don't forget. I travel with hope that I might help to cultivate Bhutan's youth with tools that will speak a universal language...tools that will allow them to remember as they go forward. I travel to Bhutan so that I may return...to help the youth in my country remember what many of them have forgotten.
I travel to simultaneously slow down, and speed up. I travel to discover the intricate mysteries and treasures that flourish when worlds are shared with reverence and care. I travel so that I might learn and teach the methods by which we might find balance in that intricacy.
The noise that fills my brother's streets, the noise that fills so many streets, will not exist. This departure is not a regular departure. I will be in the Kingdom of Bhutan on Sunday.
I travel to share worlds.
I travel with care and respect for the power of this world's youth.
I travel to "keep hope alive".