Soâ€¦ an opportunity to travel. Client hired me to produce a training video and they want to shoot it in their Japan office.
Before the quake and tsunami.
I’m not a big traveler. I don’t get joy out of it. Most people, when they travel, focus on the differences–the new experiences. I focus on the sameness. Everywhere I go, I see the same division of wealth and poverty; the same majority of the population crushed by the daily grind, unable to reach their full human potential; the same corrupt leaders who don’t give a shit.
Most people, when they travel, focus on the cultural experiences. The so-called exotic foods or clothes or customs. The great paintings, the architecture; the gondolas, the cute street fairs and the painted, pierced drummers. I focus on the human experiences. I see the same beggars in the streets of any city with the same well-dressed people stepping over them and pretending not to see. Squint so that you blur the details of the clothes of the well-to-do, or plug your ears so you don’t hear the different language: and then you observe the beggars all dress the sameâ€”no exotic costume here–in Cairo or London; and their mute language of despair is the same in San Francisco, Guadalajara, Stockholm, Port au Prince, Dusseldorf. The same.
So, I don’t choose to travel abroad as a pleasure. I don’t get joy out of it; I get pain.
However, when I do travel for work, I am a good traveler, a respectful traveler. I meet people on a one-to-one basis; I evaluate each person as an individual human; I don’t apply stereotypes (even â€œpositiveâ€ stereotypes) or preconceived notions to how I expect a person to behave or what s/he might want. And to me, perhaps because as an actor I’m accustomed to evaluating each person wholly and fully and engaging without preconceptions, I talk to all people from businessfolk to social connections to bus drivers to beggars on the street. To me, it’s all the sameâ€”humans.
Many years ago, I was waiting on the sidewalk outside the theater (the holy space) for my acting coach to arrive. A man was sitting on the sidewalk, slightly tipsy, begging for spare change. I struck up a conversation with him. As I was chatting, Mark, a fellow acting student, walked by, did a double take, and then walked on towards the theater without saying anything.
Later, after class, Mark asked me,
â€œWhy were you talking to that bum?â€
This shocked me. What bum? That was a human being!!!
Why is he a bum, but you, Mark, when you’re drunk with your buddies on Saturday night and you lost your wallet in the nightclub and you ask me to loan you ten dollars for the cab ride home, but you never pay me backâ€¦you are not a bum?
How do you know, Mark, that I was not talking to him about his insights on the current electoral issues? Matter of fact, I WAS. After we talked about how hard it was to be on the street, we talked about how hard it was to be an actor, struggling not to be overwhelmed by her day job. Then, we talked about the elections and theâ€¦bla, blaâ€¦same conversations I have with you, Mark. The same. Same. Same.
And you DARE to call him a bum. To put him in a box.
Well, I wander off topic. How UNUSUAL for me.
The topic being shooting a training vid in Tokyo.
So, my client Griff and I buy our plane tickets for Tokyo. The travel agencyâ€¦
â€¦out of spaceâ€¦