A bus named "Mercury" spends five weeks crossing the North American Continent. Thirteen intrepid travelers (some on for the whole time, others just for parts) come together to create the tour. The bits and pieces of recollections and stories are quick snapshots of a moving tableau still being sorting out and reflected on.
In an effort to get at the fullness of the experience, we proceed in the mood of a fireside conversation. We respond to the inevitable question of "How was it?" the way we might have behind the Threefold Auditorium in Spring Valley where our bus was "installed" as part of the Transforming Capacities art and science exhibition. We respond in tandem, growing upon each other's descriptions as we might at the Burning Man Arts Festival in Nevada, around a fire in the desert brush of New Mexico or over a cup of tea at the annual members meeting of the Anthroposophical Society in America:
The five week trip was in a word - intense.
Like all grand adventures there were great joys and sorrowful tears, peaks of comprehension and darkened divisiveness. The days seemed impossibly dense with happening. In retrospect, it feels as though we were on the road for months!
We were individuals from South Africa, Finland, Germany, Venezuela, Canada and both coasts of the U.S. Our ages spanned from 21 to 49. We had come together with only brief introductions and an interest in taking anthroposophy "out into the world" our common thread. We would travel almost 5,000 miles aboard a Kings County metro city bus from Washington state along a winding path to New York.
Travel is often good medicine for eliciting presence of mind and tuning into the senses, becoming a student of the stories of new situations and surroundings. Our bus-tour-as-consciousness-studies-and-artistic-expression research project demanded this same heightened sense of presence. The type that can be experienced during an especially honest and vulnerable group conversation. Or during, as it sometimes felt on the tour, a natural disaster. For, along with consistently new outer stimulus, our experiment in new social forms required an intense recognition of our inner life, the pleasant and unpleasant, as well.
We engaged each other in sharing circles, eurythmy forms, a Philosophy of Freedom study group and many, many conversations. There was much depth and honesty. There was also denial and friction, impatience and dissatisfaction. We experienced desert dust storms, fertile farm fields, lush mountain forests and the Wal.Mart parking lots of "anywhere U.S.A.". Regardless of our surroundings, our task was always the same: finding our selves, and meeting each other.
Our time together gave rise to many questions that mingled with our exploration of the being of America. What is freedom and what an illusion of freedom? How does one perceive the 'Word of the World'? How can we support each other to be as aware, free, and present as possible? What then does collaboration look like? How deeply do we meet each other in our daily encounter? What might it look like for an international, intergenerational, anthroposophically inspired group to become a living study of these questions?
Did we find answers? Many!
Did we come up with new, more subtle, more urgent questions? Absolutely!
The tour asked for more than any of us could have ever imagined coming into the trip. And knowing what we do now, it might not be a surprise that, in the end, we made a family of it all. And like a family, it was all enormously difficult and enormously rewarding.
For more about the tour and it's participants: here.
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