Some days when I’m stressed and too far from being in this art, I go out and ‘free pass’ with a few strangers for a little while. It grounds me in the purpose of all the background, functional workings of this project. The outcome from a free pass interaction, no matter what happens, is like a wake up cup of coffee. To date I’ve probably interacted with 40-50 folks around New England, and only twice has someone held up their hands, not made eye contact, and moved along. With each interaction a layer of ‘stranger-ness’ sheds pretty quickly. A deep thing about the Project is challenging participants/collaborators….myself, to take a risk and interact with someone different from you. The reward of the risk is often a vitamin for the soul.
Toll booth workers are often ignored, and literally passed by, as they do their work. Some of my favorite ‘free pass-ing’ has been with tollbooth workers. A simple query about harried, stressed out drivers of that day, and I offer a free pass token to the worker. We chat about how hard patience with harried, stressed people is-that the free pass could be kept in hand as a ‘doing the best I can’ reminder’ or perhaps handed to that harried, stressed person. A super highlight of the project so far was starting to chat with a guy and he already had a free pass token-“oh, you gave it to me a few months ago!” I asked him what he’d done with it – he gave it to a diver short on change. Having the experience, and now the memory, of our random, short, delightful interaction is this Project. Three strangers were delighted in four interactions with one object passed along. Four memories were made. Four stories created about someone we did not know.
The most profound and unexpected thing was doing a project, within the project. There is a third rail included in the coordination, and ‘free passing’, I started in on very personal work. There was a Hansel and Gretel trail of small traumas/tough things/unfinished business I had-as do most. I’ve been to many locations, private and public, where random things took place-spent some reflective time there-and left a free pass token to forgive/release myself, or a person associated. This object-the interactions – have gone deeper than I could have without the prompt/buffer. The courage and strength this took are unimaginable. In these travels I’ve been keeping video, photo and, once I’m back in my car, audio journals . Some experiences have been very, very raw, and I have not figured out the value of sharing them as ‘art’-or to keep as quiet healing. It is just this unexpected whole other avenue in the FPP. Much headier than I expected.
This stop on my ‘free pass tour’ I took photos, audio and a video clip at one location. It was a remarkable stop free pass-ing. I left tokens for myself and offered free pass tokens to the construction workers on site. One of them blew my mind when his defenses sort of fell away as he accepted the token, put it over his heart, and said, ‘this is where, I need it.’
(I’m planning and hoping over the course of the project, media by others can be shared, if they so choose. There will be media from the outcomes of collaborations with some of the groups I am, and hope to, work with.)