Well, here I am, on the plane to Chengdu, my first trip back to China in over a year.
I’ve missed the Hua Dan team. It’s been a rocky road for all of us, in one way or another, and I’m eager to be together again, after so long. I’m excited to be working with the team on the development of the Dumpling Dreams project, a long-cherished vision of ours to develop a performance as a team that could potentially be brought to the Edinburgh Festival next year. And I’m looking forward to listening and talking through ideas and plans for the next five years and to hear what the team most wants to do in taking the organization forward.
Distance of time and space lends itself to reflection on experiences that have defined and shaped who we are and the journeys that we all find ourselves on. My journey with Hua Dan continues to unfold and I am grateful for all those who have ever crossed our paths in helping us to build the legacy that we have today.
This is the first time that I have come back to China with no agenda, no strategy, no list of ‘to dos’ that have defined more recent trips. I come, this time, with a heart laden with love and a humility that defined my first tentative steps at the beginning of our journey in 2003, nearly 10 years ago. Back before fundraising, proposal and report writing, annual audits and board meetings all threatened to make us forget what this was all supposed to be about. I had one goal then – to share my deep love for theatre with the women of China, in the hope that they would glimpse new views of themselves and their perfection and allow love to express itself in them through the creative process. That vision is what I hold to now, this, my first trip back, after more than a year.
I think back to those early days in China, of the innocence and purity of vision of our team, as Dong Fen, Zhong Na, Yang Yang, me and all the others began to shape Hua Dan, and reflect how all too easy it is to allow the practical machinations of running an NGO to overshadow the original idea that seeded the organization in the first place. I know that the foundation to the success we have achieved so far can only come down to one thing – love for our fellow man and the insistence of love as our only true identity. It was that mutual understanding that got us started and helped see us through all the twists, turns and tumbles that have followed, providing the foundation for our values, even when the hold was almost too tenuous. It is that love that will help us to move forward on the next chapter of our journey.
I have written often of my own purpose being to learn and express a vision of love over fear. That vision has been tested greatly this past year and I find myself now with a renewed commitment to living that love, step by step, day by day, hour by hour…..committing myself to actions, not words. We cannot rely on past legacy to move forward but must re-commit ourselves daily to forward movement and new views on the continuing journey.
I strive to carry forward that commit to love in my heart as we seek to listen and understand for our next steps in the coming weeks.