Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I Have A Dream

I have a dream. And I had a dream. Let me tell you about the "had" first.

In late January, I dreamt I was flying/hovering/gliding inside the Grand Canyon in a sort of futuristic helicopter, like a glass bubble. I could see in every direction -- even below me. I was completely engulfed in the grandeur. It was totally mind-boggling and exhilarating, and I awakened feeling both excited and frustrated. Frustrated that despite having been geographically close on several occasions, I'd never had the time to get there, and excited about finally going. I knew it would be soon.

On March 1st, I flew to Phoenix and joined my dear friend, Joanie, who was already in the southwest visiting our mutual friends, Jennifer and Andy and Jen's mother, Florence. Their most kind and generous hospitality embraced us on either side of our sojourn to the Canyon. Thank you, beautiful people.

The drive through the red rock country, especially Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon, was as spectacular as I'd remembered it, and within a half hour of reaching our destination, Joanie and I were walking the South Rim of the Grand Canyon!

It was a brilliantly clear, cold day and we hiked along the, sometimes quite precarious, path for about four hours into the setting sun. I had come equipped with notepad and pen, and tape recorder with empty cassette prepared to record all the inspiration that would surely come to me at this awesome world-wonder. And the only words that came that day and the entire next day were: "Oh my God. Oh, my God." Every few feet, every time I'd look away for a moment and then back at the Canyon again, it was different.

The sunlight bathing the walls is slightly different -- the colors subtly change; the shapes reconfigure. "Oh my God." I'm practically weeping in joy and overwhelm. There are no words to describe this.

The day we had to leave, Joanie insisted we stop on the way out of the park at the Kaibab Trail, where she and Jen and Andy had descended to the Canyon floor a few years before. Being that it was off season and quite chilly, we were completely alone and I stood mesmerized for about 30 minutes. I didn't ever want to leave. (Thinking about it now, it reminds me of when I saw Michelangelo's David in Florence. My sense is I'd still be standing there if I hadn't had a plane to catch.)

As I stood alone in the magnificence, I began to feel that the profound peace and stillness I was experiencing was unceasingly being poured forth into the ethers from the very bowels of the Canyon -- from every nook and cranny, from every rock face, from every craggy little plant, from every 80 foot tree growing out of sheer rock! It felt like this most sacred place was a gigantic prayer bowl constantly breathing peace into the atmosphere of our Planet. "Oh, my God."

Which brings me to the dream I'm "having." This is a waking dream. My Peace dream.

Long before the Canyon "call," I had a very moving experience in the theatre one evening, I became acutely aware of the enormous energy that's generated in live performance. In the midst of this epiphany I got how totally wonderful and valuable it would be to dedicate this stupendous power to World Peace. And to that end, I've been contacting everyone I can think of in theatre and the arts in NYC with this proposal:

The powerful energy that's created in live performance is undeniable. I propose that this energy, generated hundreds of times a week in theatres all over the city, be dedicated to World Peace.

At this most crucial time on our earth, I feel that it could have an enormous impact on the collective consciousness.

It would simply be a matter of having a sign back stage (and perhaps in the lobby) in all our theatres stating: This Performance Is Dedicated To World Peace, in addition to including this statement in the pre-show, "turn off your beepers" announcement.

That's it! Nothing else to do. This would give every performance another dimension and a focus of deep caring and compassion. We can't even begin to imagine the positive repercussions that could result from this subtle, recurring message.

I see this being implemented in our Broadway and Off- Broadway theatres, at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, in Stadiums and ultimately all over our country and the world. Why not? With violence escalating at a dizzying pace, we must start giving Peace some major PR. And with the eyes of the world on NYC since 9/11, this is surely the place to begin. It would serve as yet another expression of, and tribute to, the generous and indomitable spirit of both our great city and the theatre community. It's also a natural tie-in to the "I Love New York" campaign.

I wrote this in April, 2002 and our world was writhing in anguish. It seems to still be so. And although this idea has not taken root yet, I'll never give up on it. And as I strive to make This Performance Is Dedicated to World Peace a happening in the Big Apple, I'm sharing it here hoping that the concept will catch on and start popping up all over the country -- performances/gatherings in community theatres, universities, high schools -- wherever this powerful focus of energy is created -- all being dedicated to World Peace. I repeat: Why not?

Let us decide that we've had enough of the horror. Let us, please, not sit back and passively accept that for at least the next 20 years our world will be at war, and our beloved country will be relentlessly building more and more sophisticated instruments of destruction. What an aberrant use of our divine creative energy. We know that violence begets violence. How could this possibly be the answer?

Shifting the consciousness in our world is the answer. Shifting the focus of our minds and hearts, which influences the actions we take, to peace and love and beauty and brotherhood is the answer. Shortly after 9/11, Ryan Kelly of the NYC Ballet wrote: "I'm trying to breathe peace more than ever this year - like rain forests that oxygenate the earth, peace- breathers might pacify the planet ..." Let us all become peace-breathers and dedicate our very breath and all the energies that we create in communion with each other to World Peace. The world needs us. If the Grand Canyon can do it, so can we.

In 1963, in his legendary I Have A Dream speech, Martin Luther King said: "We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force." Oh, Yes! Thank you, Dr. King.

Whenever in doubt, Come Home to your Heart
Elizabeth Hepburn