How to document lightning?

This is a short blog but I wanted to write something about what it is like to attempt to document this journey. I have never written a blog before, I am not a professional journalist or film maker or photographer and yet I find myself thinking like I work in these mediums. So, about once a day I feel ever so slightly like a fraud with a pinch of guilt that I am not documenting enough, though I take photos, record meetings, write blogs. Though I am doing all I can short of strapping a camera to my forehead and collecting specimens of all I eat.

My blogs are simple. They have become increasingly simple as my travels and thoughts have become more complicated. I am worried about creating an opinion too early, too simply, publishing something to the public which is subject to change. The politics of this country are so complex, so fragile, so… dangerous that I have resisted posting anything about them.

This is all uncharacteristic for me. I can be stubborn and quick to decide; this trip is an excellent lesson at self-silence. I have been quieting that little voice in my head that can rush into outrage or despair. It also takes me a couple of hours to write a blog and time at my laptop has been rare. I think I am essentially saying this trip is making me grow up which is odd for someone in their 30’s who has travelled most of her life and writes a lot about social injustice and generally already felt pretty grown up. What is it about this trip that has made such a difference? Certainly traveling with Ximena who is a generation above me and much wiser than I, has made an impact. Potentially the particular and peculiar diversity of the stories and experience has made an impact too. And I keep on thinking about that girl in the strip bar in Tijuana. The other day after a couple of beers I felt a tear creep into my eye when I thought of her. I am trying to find out her name because that feels important. I would rather think of her and think of her name. Her namelessness troubles me.

Which brings me to another point – I have generally resisted stating peoples names (minus those fabulous female playwrights in Tijuana). It’s odd but I feel like so many of the conversations we have feel private and personal that somehow in sharing their names I am releasing a secret, which is ridiculous I know. But I am trying to be honest with you, with myself.

People keep on asking me and Ximena about the outcome of this trip – both of us dodge the question. I am a playwright so I will write something that resembles a piece of drama to show in August at the book festival, dialogue? Monologue? I don’t know. It increasingly feels likely that me and Ximena will work on something together… maybe? We don’t know. We still need to have that conversation. It’s funny our conversations are more about our political and personal lives than our work, it’s as if work is harder to talk about, more private. We have 5 more nights together and I think our conversations will move onto work, on to what we want to produce from our Outriders journey. I can already think of at least two of my other plays this project will feed into – in subtle quiet ways – but in ways nevertheless. I am excited to think ahead to August, to reconnect with Ximena, to meet the other Outriders, to see what we will write.

For now, I think I will continue to wonder if I am documenting enough of this journey. Am I documenting the important bits? The ethereal bits? The bits you cannot find on google? I hope so but really I don’t know. I won’t know. How to capture something that moves? After all, bottled air goes stale, water stagnates, caged birds pull out their feathers removing the most colourful parts of themselves. It is hard to both document and live something – at least I am find that to be the case. So much of what is making this experience wonderful is how present I have to be, in the moment to live it, love it, chisel it into my bones. And the real work? The real writing? That is yet to come…

My plane just flew over lightning – I was scared and excited. I try to take a photo and miss it but instead end up with a beautiful photo of clouds. Maybe that is a good way to think about this project. Flying over lightning. Brilliant, beautiful and bright with a tinge of danger. I smile, the lightening lights up my face.

Flying forward into the unknown.


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