One of my current favorite performance pieces is my ridiculous story of recently cutting through the backyards of suburban Connecticut, where I attended high school, only to discover that there are now fences, motion lights, and people who have no idea why a middle-aged guy would be in their backyard carrying a six-pack of beer.
My main purpose in telling the story is to try to establish a connection between ourselves and the land that we live on – to what extent do I (and you) carry some sense of aboriginality, even if, as a white guy, I’m an interloper with a pretty sordid cultural history? What responsibility do we have to the place where we live? My main point is that if you live somewhere for a long time (long for me being twenty five years), you start to feel part of the land and care about what happens to it – space becomes more important and time less important. You come free of time, like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five. Now, I stand in my back yard in southeastern Massachusetts and can still envision the trees, now gone, that were there twenty years ago, hear the calls of the umpteenth set of fledgling hawks nesting in the oak trees, and have some inkling, or feeling, that King Phillip (Metacomet), defender of aboriginal land in my area in the 1600’s, probably walked, and still walks, across the place where my house stands.
No one on the planet is more in tune with those feelings, I would guess, than aboriginal Australians, who have been in the same place for fifty thousand years or so. The mind boggles. I have no idea what fifty thousands years in one place does to you. Trying to understand the way they think, and what they see and feel is pretty presumptuous – my friend Kevin Kling, who has spent time with different groups in Australia says “whatever you think their dream time is, it’s not.” But it’s still worth thinking about. Or feeling.
I came across this video of an Australian aboriginal group, Yothu Yindi, on my friend Marcy Marxer’s Facebook page. The song rocks – it would work at a disco or a rave – but its words are about ancestors and our life on Earth here together. The song has synthesizers and digeridoos living comfortably next to each other in the mix.
Some wisdom from the elders.
Hey, one more thing. I’m going on vacation for two weeks. This means I’m going to try not to work – that includes this blog, perhaps. Don’t give up on me.