(Bautista, Personal Photograph, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2007)
The following excerpt is taken from my doctoral thesis Estory Sa (the story of) Mid-Air: From an Artist of Diversity Towards a Teacher for Peace completed in 2005. I place it here with a few tweaks. It has been roughly 10 years since I originally wrote it. The essence of it remains the same as I have been thinking lately about why teaching and travelling just makes sense in terms of the teaching path I choose to take in my short time on this planet.
A few years ago, on a whim I suppose, I visited a medium out in New Brunswick, Canada and she said that her spirit guide was adamant about telling me that I wasn’t going to have a typical life in the classroom and to trust my path.
Things wind down now in my current stay in Korea and I’m not sure what lies ahead but I am sure that I finally trust my path. I do like travelling for many reasons but I suppose the most prominent one is not really knowing what experiences await me or what I will learn from them. There is just something comforting in not knowing where life will take me.
Travel and the MID-AIR metaphor
For certain mortals, the purpose of travel has become arriving. For them, eager in reaching the end, there’s no thrill in anticipation. (Manguel, 1993, p.372)
The metaphor of MID-AIR provides the core artistry of my work. At the age of twenty-four, I vowed to venture in as many ways as possible. At the time, I was living and teaching abroad and I decided that this journey overseas could be profitable both personally and professionally. I remember thinking that somehow I needed to continue with this pattern of travel in my life.
I travel and have traveled to many places: across Canada, Korea, The Philippines, Cuba, throughout the U.S., Hong Kong, France, Australia, the U.K., Thailand and I strongly believe that more places will surface. Little did I know that, with my thesis, I would learn to travel inwardly within myself.
MID-AIR metaphor thoughts arose when I traveled to Paris, France in 2001. On the airplane, my pen and paper then captured the developing metaphor I now proclaim to be MID-AIR.
When I think about where I am right now, I revel in the idea of being between destinations. Flying seems like such a miraculous endeavour. Living between spaces or destinations sounds paradoxical, but as we negotiate our identities across numerous landscapes, we must remember that we are connected to these landscapes. Being in between, amongst, amid places is similar to being in mid-air. When I negotiate my identity, my diversity, I feel safe in mid-air
(Bautista, Personal Journal Entry, June 2001).
In my thesis, the metaphor transformed itself, sustaining and engaging themes of self and other, identity and diversity with my acceptance of more to come. MID-AIR attempts to move away from the compartmentalization, the constant categorizing, or “the boxing” of individuals within society. MID-AIR provides the space for the self to actively explore notions of identity, ethnicity and culture. It gives me the time and space to visit the self across identity arenas including, but not limited to, lineage, history, culture, environment and society. MID-AIR allows for endless inquiry and possibility.
Jann Arden (2002), a reknowned Canadian singer/songwriter, postulates:
Flying makes one very dramatic.…I think differently. My perspective is altered. You have to give up your power. You have to give up control. You have to trust someone else with your life. It is the one thing we cannot seem to do in our relationships. Give ourselves up to them; our others, our partners, our mates, our companions. Our husbands and our wives. We have to have control and power and status.…In a plane you have nothing….Everyone is suddenly very equal. You are not an individual. You are part of a crowd—all headed the same way…[Power] cannot save you in first class when things go terribly wrong. Flying is so interesting. I learn so much more about myself. (p.18)
MID-AIR becomes a “third space,” the space between, or the category that cannot be categorized. Its features allow for my story of self to fly and not to fly. MID-AIR is grounded in theory, but it is free to soar. It is active and passive, because it is in flight while simultaneously being stationary. It is ambiguous, simply, because it is. MID-AIR, like life, involves negotiating many destinations.
Through story and storytelling, I recover my past in present reflection with an intentional future gaze. The storied past permits me to relive my cultural identity negotiations, in terms of my current MID-AIR self with the intention of providing a forum for future discussions of diversity in education and society. It is my hope that by storying my experiences, I share my understandings of the term diversity.
Arden, J. (2002). if i knew, don’t you think i’d tell you?. Toronto, Ontario: Insomniac Press.
Manguel, A. (1993). The Terminal Man. In K. Roy (Ed.), Vistas: Exploring Poetry, Prose and Non-Fiction (pp.372-73). Toronto: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Canada, Inc.