Saturday, April 18, 2009
Making bamboo paper in a H'mong village, Luang Namtha, Laos
If I'd given up the first or second time a Lao translator/tourist official said to me: "No one makes paper here now/this time of year/in this region," I wouldn't have found out that, actually, some people are making paper here, even at the very end of the dry season. And had I listened to them, I wouldn't have had this rare chance to try my hand at it - much to the consternation of village kids. You see, I had a lot of experience to catch up on - they'd started learning at 8 years old.
It's not that I have a problem with authorities - I just choose to make my own way through the world, rather than pay their edicts too much attention.
I was reminded of this when I read Chris's great essay, "Welcome to the Real World". For those of us who are more interested in creating the status quo than in maintaining it, that phrase is a rigid roadblock. I've never seen "the real world" as particularly relevant to mine.
One of the few times I had the phrase directed at me was nearly a decade ago, after graduation from a public Midwestern university with a BFA in Painting. Not exactly a recipe for success in my chosen, insanely-competitive field.
"How's the real world treatin' ya?" asked an associate professor, six months after my graduation. She was a paper/print artist, visiting my counter at Wet Paint for some Twinrocker paper. Pale-haired, Nordic-skinned, she looked starved for sun; winter had begun to weigh heavily on all of us.
"It's OK," I said, shaking off the blues with memories. "I went to Liverpool after graduation to volunteer at a teen art program, and ended up working with the Biennial fringe festival. No idea what I'll do next, maybe learn sculpture in Italy next year."
She had nothing else to say.
There's not a "real world", there's just YOUR world. Enough existentialism. Next step: On to World Domination.
Posted by Ebriel