Dispatches from Banff: 3 (a letter to my funder)

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Below, the last dispatch from Banff (previous dispatches here and here). It was written almost two weeks ago, July 1. Not only is it a dispatch from Banff, it's also become the letter I sent to my funder, RBC, to thank them for paying my way. Here it is.

Starbucks, Canada Day, red and white everywhere. It's all almost over. In less than two days, I'm skipping town. They're playing an easy listening cover of a song by The Clash. And the place is packed with people, a police officer walks in, finds the line too long, walks out. Yesterday, I opened my studio to anyone who cared to look. Let them duck under the webs of string that physically illustrate my thought processes, put the sounds of ground squirrels on repeat, tried to make myself make sense, in four minutes or less. A month of this, of building something, although I'm not quite sure what, ends in groups of people coming through my studio, listening to my explanation of myself, walking out to get another glass of wine when it's all over.

Since my fourth day here, I've been meeting people in the dining room, finding interesting strangers to push my thinking in different directions. They have. From that fourth day, from meeting one person, talking, learning, has sprung a practice or some. From that one person, the idea to make connections. From that one person, the idea to talk to strangers. From that one person, layers of meaning. From that one person, so very much. Now multiply that. Every day. Every meal. Every chance encounter. All the everything that comes from constantly seeing newly. The different perspectives that don't belong to me. The newness, the newness, the amazing, wonderful newness. Every single day. And I want to keep it. But I think: in Toronto, am I allowed to talk to strangers? The permission. It exists here. In the dining room, strangers are for talking to, for meeting, for visiting with. Strangers are for bringing to my studio to look at the walls, look at the progress, spark new ideas. This place is about strangers.

Sitting in the Starbucks in town, with the Canada Day revellers, the locals and the tourists, it's not the same. The next seat over won't be taken by an interesting stranger, eager to talk. It will be taken away to another table, to accommodate the usual. Already, I feel a little more urban, a little more apart. This is the first time I've stepped into a Starbucks in a month. Slowly, slowly, my old routine sneaks up. I can feel the city infiltrating. A five dollar drink at eleven in the morning, just to get out and walk somewhere, the routine that breaks up the routine. No mountains, no river, no red staircase leading down to the forest, no strangers at breakfast. Just tall, tall, tall buildings, grass and paths in Queen's Park, my great big city, broken while I was gone. And email. Every five minutes, prompt replies. Logistics. A phone that isn't roaming, that takes calls and makes calls and texts and buzzes.

This month, I've been lax. I've lived inside my head. I've tried to make my thoughts visible. I've explored and found and seen. And there's so much more to develop. Now, out of the trees, out of the constant new input, I'll go back to my great big city, to my concrete and mid-morning coffee breaks, and I'll work. If I can keep hold of all these connections, the realizations and mental constructions I've built in Banff, I can make them real. Now, I go back and make these things ready for the light of day.

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