Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Aside 13 at the Red Room was a three hour journey along the paths of 5 individual and group performers- each with their own story of adventure and wonder to share. The evening opened with words from Red Room’s co-founder, Ping Chu. Ping encouraged the audience to reflect on the importance of the people we meet throughout or travels. “At Red Room,” he said, “it takes only a minute to meet someone, but a lifetime to forget them.” While the day-to-day interactions we have with our friends and colleagues may seem trivial in the moment, Ping reminds us that life is a collection of a multitude of moments, each shaping our experiences, like stones lying in the middle of a narrow stream.
The evening flowed onward to the first performer, Tina Ma. Tina spun a tale of blazing one’s own future and identity through facing different challenges. Her story-song used the personification of animals to symbolize the the wise lessons we can learn from nature. She urged the audience to meditate on the importance of emotion and kindness in our actions, asking “When we act, do we use all four chambers of our heart?” Tina’s question made us wonder: are we full hearted in our interactions and experiences, or do we simply give half of ourselves? Her performance asserted that in order to learn, love, and give to the world, we have to use all four chambers of the heart and feel love flowing through all aspects of our being.
As if mirroring the heart beat pumping blood and life throughout us all, Mia Hsieh used her steel drum to play a song that strikingly embodied the light-hearted nature of travel. In contrast, her vocal tones expressed a yearning for something lost along the way. After all, while Emerson emphasized the whimsy of weaving one’s own trail, he also posited that ” Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” Mia’s song led the listener to believe that perhaps the singing traveller had neglected to hold fast to “the beautiful,” mistakenly confusing the painful lessons of growth with regret and flaw- forgetting that experiences mould us and therefore beautify the paths on which we walk.
Sue de Simone candidly told the audience about walking her own beautiful journey through growth. She began with a rock song based on the adage, “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” telling the audience of how a benign brain tumor lead to a series of addictions from cigarettes to alcohol, from alcohol to cigarettes and from cigarettes to chocolate. While the story was harrowing, Sue used humor to draw attention to her current reality- a successful performer, healthy and full of life.
Rocking us back to the past, Ruth Giordano and the Red Room Radio Redux crew shared an excerpt from their upcoming show, “Treasure Island.” The connection to the evening’s theme is clear- a journey across the sea to find an elusive prize. Although “Treasure Island” may be a classic, the excerpt left the audience wondering how the story would end.
As if on cue, the night came to a hopeful close with Scott Prairie and Mia Hsieh’s collaboration on a series of songs. The final song in their set reminded the audience that, “it’s going to be ok.” With this upbeat and energetic close, the audience rose back to life, bustling hurriedly to catch old friends before heading home and to embrace new friends will a full heart.
Kristin S. is new to Taipei and is excited to volunteer at the Red Room as a rookie. In her free time she enjoys reading psychological thrillers, exploring new cities, and yoga.