Life is so busy that we can mindlessly live it without appreciating the unique journey that is our own.

I was jogging on the 28 August 2017 when I tripped and hit the pavement hard, breaking my right collarbone. I had lost my footing, clipped my wing and literally fell flat on my face. To find gratitude in this accident is the story of my take on The Pilgrim and my encounter with Astrid Mendez.
While recovering I contributed $100 to a crowd funding campaign for a Pilgrim tour to regional Victoria. This seemed to me an innovative and beautiful artwork that transcends cultures, generations and touched my values for tradition, culture and the making something old new again.
For my contribution The Pilgrim came to Preston on the night of Halloween, performed to local tricksters as a treat. A 6-minute puppet show for an audience of two by two, repeated over a two-hour time slot.
When I met Astrid I discovered that her work elicits authenticity, the purpose of all things, our interwoven links to our past, present and it’s influence on our future and that each element contributes to the whole. That simplicity, connection and creativity allows us to live meaningful lives.
A young, endearing woman from Chile, with a Cyndi Lauper hairdo, shaved on one side, tattoos etched on the inside edges of her palms an extension of her little fingers, reminded me of the keys of a piano and framed her skilled puppetry. Herself a work of art, a product of her past, like memories written on her body and a happiness that sparks intention that her life’s work is a gift. We connected instantly, like lost souls, dear sisters, I felt I have known her all my life.
The Pilgrim is about the road less travelled. There may be a preordained route that one is meant to follow, met with resistance when another path presents itself – the fork in the road. To be open to what comes, then presents possibility.
The story of The Pilgrim draws on a number of elements that together make the character. Each element is unique, a symbol, dependant on the others to make a whole. Astrid told me that “Each object has memory, a story, a history, but we just do not see it. In what way can we take things from the past and give them a second chance, that they are transformed into something different.”
In this sense we seek to replace the old with the new revealing a lack of creativity. This can be true of our most intimate relationships, having been in one for 27 years, knowing what it feels like to be challenged by what may seem the mundane, and seen marriages fall apart- it reveals a lack of looking deeper, an expectation that the spark ‘should’ be ever present, how we think relationships are disposable in the way we treat each other, and how this is a failure to truly appreciate each element that makes a relationship. The Pilgrim reveals a reincarnation of old elements that builds a new story. With creativity, communication and good will our relationships are also part of this character’s journey.
“Sifting through hard rubbish tricks my imagination. The elements I used to make The Pilgrim were carefully selected, the wire, the bicycle chain, the thimble and the fabric. I wanted to make something very simple that was also beautiful. The thimble for example is a family symbol, because my mother, grandmother and sisters taught me to sew. The suitcase he carries is magical as it holds memories, stories, tears, objects, a symbol of how one packs and unpacks and keeps things close, not always material things.”
Astrid explained that she started to develop a conscience in her late 20s, when she found a spiritual path guided by mentors, recognising she could not be fulfilled by materialism. After a period of 7 years she saw her depression as an opportunity to explore what was missing, she challenged the patterns she had adopted and changed her perspective. Her internal world, no longer connected with the outside world that seemed to limit her expression.
Astrid’s mentor made an observation: “ What happened to you is that you started to change your vibration and this vibration no longer fit that of your country, so you went to a country where the vibration matched, and that is why you stayed there.”
“When I think about my life, I would not have decided to come here. I would be married with kids and none of this would have happened. I made a decision to leave my country to find something that suited me and changed my story. In Chile people struggle as there is a huge gap between the social classes. People work hard, they feel frustrated, searching for something better. To be in constant fear is not a great way to live. In Australia there is what seems to be a sense of innocence, as people trust first.”
The story of the Pilgrim is Astrid’s story, of how she came to find herself in a new country.
The Pilgrim is determined to travel a particular way- on the train. But he misses the train there is not another one for many days – what to do? He is frustrated, upset and he thinks that this is the only way he can get to his destination – so much disappointment! Fear overtakes him as he feels stranded and resigned to a fixed idea, that this is the only way to travel. Life shows him a different way which is much more fun. He is scared, but life pushes him- it’s violent! He is pushed onto a …… blimp! He lets go of what he is holding – his suitcase. The blimp rises above and a magical, mysterious adventure that is beyond his imagination unfolds, unattainable by train.
The Pilgrim is a puppet-show for an audience of one, “I like the space that we build together, one on one. We are all just one grain of sand, one part of the universe. I know sometimes we need big movements to make change, but this is about starting small, a small connection that will contribute to building something for everyone. It is a literal simple story to which everyone can relate – I want to keep it intimate, because a strong connection builds a sense of community.”
IMG_2833When Astrid presents The Pilgrim it is like unveiling a secret, in a space that allows for a unique journey for each unique individual.
Of her future plans Astrid said that: “I will be travelling to Europe in 2017 and engaging in a residency in Barcelona with Theatre of the Senses, as we have a very similar philosophy. They have been working on this philosophy for 25 years- I have been working with the Pilgrim for two and half years and I was surprised to find so many similarities with my work.”

One thought on ““Please take your time, this is your own personal experience” The Pilgrim and Astrid Mendez written by Fortunata Callipari

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