A Subconscious Beginning
I sprawled out in the sunshine, topless and bare-bottomed, on a towel that I’d laid down on the freshly mowed grass to keep me from getting itchy. The rhythmic chak-chak-chak of a sprinkler, set up at the other end of the front yard, dominated any other background noises of animals mooing or barking at one another by the dam and the farm tractor working a hillside across the gully. It was the beginning of Summer and the sun shone down with a gentle mid-afternoon warmth: warm enough for comfort, but without the bite that would draw a sweat or burn a bum. As I propped myself up on elbows, it seemed nothing could disturb me from my favourite book which rested open at the top of the towel.
I’ve never been overly fond of wearing clothes. Any opportunity to get my kit off and feel the freedom of letting it all hang out has always been welcomed, and even now my favourite time of day is as I walk through my unit door and throw everything in the dirty clothes basket. As an adult, my favourite job so far has been a stint as a life drawing model: I enjoyed the thrill and liberation of dropping my towel in a room full of women as they peered out from behind easels to sketch my naked body. Growing up in the country, with no-one around to judge, the only shirt I wore on a weekend during my teenage years was a football jersey during the rugby season. And, during my younger years, country living and a child’s blissfully ignorant sense of inhibitions allowed me the freedom to lie around soaking up the mid-afternoon sun on the lawn in the raw. It is perhaps with this little guy – the 8-year-old nudist laying in the sunshine reading his favourite books – that the first seeds of thought were sewn for creating a project like What Should Baz Do.
When I was this young boy, I was captivated by a series of Choose Your Own Adventure books by R. L. Stine called “Goosebumps”. At the end of each short chapter the main character would be faced with an ultimatum of sorts and I, as the reader, would be asked to make a big decision in his or her stead, and depending on the decision, read on from a certain page number. Each small decision would influence the outcome of the story in a drastic way, – analogous to the butterfly effect: which states that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings – through a chain of interrelated events – can cause a hurricane somewhere else in the world weeks later. I liked playing a part in the characters destiny. It gave me a sense of involvement in the story – making it easier to identify with the plight of the story’s protagonist.
In this sense these books are representative of the choices we make in life. With every decision in our lives we are changing our trajectory into the future and effectively changing our story. But unlike a story book, if we don’t like our ending, we can’t always just turn the page back to the last chapter and make a different decision.
‘What Should Baz Do’ is designed to work in a way which mimics the books that I loved as a child: To give the reader a sense of involvement in the stories they are reading; and a role in the character’s destiny. Only, this time around, I plan to volunteer myself for a few years to become the protagonist in the story – one that will effectively be narrated by my friends in the audience of What Should Baz Do.
The first chapter is already being written (lived). I have been living and teaching in London since April, and specifically chose to work with Impact Teachers because they run a volunteer program mentoring teachers in India and Uganda, in an effort to improve the skills of teachers, and quality of education, in these countries. On Wednesday 15th October I’ll be flying out from Heathrow, destined for some exploring around India before spending a week volunteering to mentor teachers in Delhi. There is much to tell so far about the time in London, on topics like Hostel living; Househunting; Road-tripping; English pub culture; Teaching in London; & Teaching kids in ‘schools for the habitually expelled’.
From here on in, other people will be in charge of coming up with ideas for the next chapters of Baz’s life…
While Chapter ONE is playing out for the next few months – as I continue teaching in London & mentoring teachers in India – it is up to all of you to start suggesting story plots for Chapter TWO, which will begin sometime in 2015. In the project ‘What Should Baz Do’, every life chapter has three phases:
- Phase 1: is a process of brainstorming ideas for the future.
- Phase 2, suggestions that have been submitted by 31st March will be whittled down to a Short-list of the best ideas and be voted on.
- Phase 3 is where I will take the idea that has been voted for as the best and make it become reality (telling the story along the way).
Phase 1 is in progress – so this is a call to arms for you to put forward your most brilliant brainwaves to help me make the next chapter in my life an inspiring, eye-opening, and worthwhile one!