March 8, 2011

Wuhan, China

Lately i‘m struggling a lot with my own public image — how much do i want to be in the spotlight? The actions i do — the concerts, the building of crazy bikes, the workshops . . . i want to do them simply because i like it, and i want to share my knowledge, let people learn with me, whoever wants to. But too often people (not just strange journalists looking for their pre-conceived story, but also ordinary people all over the roads and at the vegie-stand) view me as a spectacle in-it-self, regardless of what i do. They treat me like a superstar, or even an alien. The reverse is true, too: after a concert in a bar filled predominantly wiht foriegners to China, most people of western background didn‘t even say hello — even though my face was painted and i was simling at everyone. The Chinese in the room, on the other hand, wasted no time in exclaiming how awesome i am — that i „changed their lives“.

i‘m not the first to travel by bicycle, nor am i the first to make street performances. i‘m not looking for stardom and i‘ll reject it everywhere i find it. We don‘t need idols — instead of living vicariously through my adventures or anybody else’s, we need self-confident people who create their own adventures.

Maybe some of the trouble lies in the behavior of visitors to China — they are here as tourists, as students or exchange program jobbers. They rarely venture out of the cities, so Chinese in the countryside (who don‘t go to the cities, either), never actually meet someone from Europe or America. In the news and at school, they hear so much about these people whose governments are trying to control the social, political and economic aspects of the whole world, but the countryside Chinese literally never have the chance to talk with a foriegner . . .
then we go rolling along and are annoyed with the monotonous questions „where are you from / do you like China / where are you going / how do you ride that bike“ . . . that their only encounter with forienges is a strained one, receiving merely TI MU DOM (i don‘t understand) as a monotonous answer…
We really should learn more of the Chinese language, or try harder to take someone with us who speaks Chinese and one of our 4 languages (English, French, German, Japanese), but we try our best with a dictionary, phrases people or google have translated and scribbled out for us, and with our paper and photos presenting our „project“ (which we all see as a way of life and not really as a project):
moNkey bAnd . . . 2wheels4change . . .
we have multiple identities, so we can‘t capture everything we are and are doing under one name, one project . . .

Brave? Difficult? Our lives are simply lived, voluntarily. What most people are doing — stuck in day-jobs, shopping at the mall, driving cars, reducing their education to television and compulsory schooling — is brave and difficult. i once did it too, but i couldn‘t do it now.

We may be different, so much so that you think you can‘t understand us or follow our example of living simply and collectively. But i challenge you to think about yourself in your surroundings — your neighborhood, your school, your work, your family . . .
and i challenge you to take some chances — start doing something new, stop doing the things you don‘t like to do, find ways to reduce your dependancies . . . then you might realise that we are quite similar.

Read on, if you want to some suggestions:

What are you dependent on?
Money for your home? – Do you live alone? Try creating an apartment with several friends.
Money for cigarettes? – Try changing your diet — just to save money and maybe to help your health.
Money for your food? – Try asking your neighbors to cook food together, taking turns buying vegetables for everyone and eating at each other’s houses.
Too attentive to television? – Try just turning off this state-influenced instrument of negative education, and try turning on your favorite music instead. You‘ll save electricity, too.

* Then you might find that you have more money, so you won‘t need to work as long. Or the work might become easier, because many people are working together to do some of the cooking, washing and cleaning that you once only did alone.
* Then you might find that you have time to do other things that you like to do.

And if you become inspired from these small but momentous changes in your life, you might find yourself creating community spaces in which many people can relax together and share their free time.
* You might start learning to learn differently — namely, not so much from school and workshops, but informally, from your neighbors in everyday life.

If there is one thing that we want to create with our journey, our lives, it is this:

to inspire people to live
how they want to live
with respect to others