Au Revoir Old Friend
“The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunshine, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” - John Muir (U.S. naturalist, explorer, & writer, 1838-1914)
Time is a river on a straight course, ever flowing without change, gaining memories even as it loses itself. Reflecting on my own little brook, I find it fitting that our last two weeks in Europe have met with some of its famous waterways: the Baltic Sea, the Elbe, and the blue Danube. This year marks the end of my third full tour of Europe, a place grown intimate as a well-loved friend. Each successive visit has brought new insights into our acquaintance, but like true friends, some things never change.
Berlin will still be full of bears (of the domesticated key-chain variety), while Stockholm will also have the occasional bear but generally prefers the moose. Prague will be a narrow walk down a cobblestone slope lined with street musicians and shops with sharp sloping roofs. German rest stops will be populated with restrooms offering 50-cent vouchers after paying a 50-cent fee (though this year the fee is 70 cents). All rest stops will sell coffee (freshly brewed by human hands or a vending machine) and identical ice creams by the same company under multiple aliases. In the United States, we know it as Good Humor. In Europe, we know it as Algida, Miko, Eskimo, Streets and many, many other names.
In less than 48 hours we’ll be back in the U.S. of A, the land of the mile and the home of Fahrenheit weather forecasts. I think fondly of that now, but I know that I’ll miss here once I am home. While I’ve been sharing the beauty of classical Chinese dance with audiences across Europe, the continent has gifted me from its abundant stores of art, history, and culture. I believe the experiences have mutually enriched us. As my words wind down, I like to dwell upon a single thought: If Time is like a river, Shen Yun is like the sea. Though the tide may take us from the shore, it is only a while before we return again. I hope that next year’s new program will give Europe yet another “grand show” to look forward to!
May 8, 2011