October 5, 2014
This blog consists of my own subjective experiences on the 5Rhythms® dancing path, and are not sanctioned by any 5Rhythms® organization or teacher.
Everything is perfect. Even when it is all a gigantic mess.
I showed up to Tammy’s class on Friday, which was substitute-taught by 5Rhythms teacher Kierra, feeling like my circumstances were impossible and unworkable. I doubted I would be able to move at all. When I walked in, I ducked behind the person who was greeting people at the door because I wanted to walk in naked, on my own terms, not in the lens of another’s gaze. Rather than finding a spot to stretch and de-compress, as is my usual practice, I wandered about distractedly for some time. At one point, I realized I had traversed the room and couldn’t remember how it happened.
I have at least three full-on careers, and several additional professional trajectories—the most challenging of the three is my work as a 10th grade teacher at a New York City public school. The students are delightful—even when they are challenging. The adults, on the other hand, are not always delightful. I have only one kindred spirit in my school community, and she, herself, is marginal to the politics of the place. On Friday, I presented an issue that I feel passionately about and that I thought there would be receptivity to, and was resoundingly defeated.
I found myself talking with a new friend about 5Rhythms on the topic of how each of us relates to rhythm. “I realize, after many years of metaphoric bumps and injuries, that I have a different beat,” I said. She thought I was making a joke, so I clarified, “For a long time, I thought it was just a rebellious teenager thing that I have, but I believe it is deeper than that. I can do the big beat, the rhythm of the room, but very often, left to my own devices, I find myself finding the tiny rhythms, finding the metarhythms, finding myself in the air when most people around me are stepping on top of a downbeat.” This realization, in the context of my school dilemma, made me feel sad. Sometimes I feel so different. (A little sweep of sad gets me as I re-read this.)
Walking in, I was tight, withdrawn, wrinkled. Caught in a story of how I don’t deserve to be wrong. Miraculously, within moments, I remembered that everything is perfect. Even when it is a gigantic mess. Kierra put on a popular song with the lyric, “Say what you’ve got to say…” I danced it to its edges. I rose and fell; I walked and retreated; I emoted and enacted; I spun and stopped and arced and bit. Then, she put on a song with an epic swell and I found the grace and dignity of it, the point, the reason to bother even when it seems pointless and impossible.
Whereas I came in feeling like I wished I had kept my mouth shut at work, wishing I hadn’t come out of the closet as a reformer, after these few songs I had a totally different take. There is no point in being attached to my own experience or to my own righteous position, nor to disowning it. I said what I had to say, there is integrity to my position, and now I will take the consequences and see where things go.
As Flowing unfolded in the first wave, I noticed that I felt vulnerable. I was very aware of the spot in the middle of my upper back—the place behind the heart where an arrow could easily kill you—a part of my body that I worked with extensively in my first year of practice as my elaborate armor began to dismantle. Once I noticed I was feeling vulnerable, and that my back was vulnerable, I decided that I might as well be uniformly vulnerable, to all people in the room and with all parts of my body.
In the interlude between the first and second waves, Kierra prefaced her thematic offering with, “I invite you. I invite you. If it is right for you, if it feels right for you, you take it on. If not, that’s OK. I invite you, not I command you.” She was speaking my language already. I really want to be invited, not commanded. And, as a teacher, I want to invite and not command my own students.
She then said something to the effect of inviting us to take on the idea of being in harmony with the seasons. Next, she said that if we were living close to the earth, this time of the year in this region would be one of harvesting. I thought about my own harvests. About how as a visual artist I just had a wonderful artwork exhibition—the culmination of years of hard work. I also thought about how as a teacher, I have honed some skills and competencies that I can now employ. And about abundance and the fact that I am blessed in infinite ways. When the music started again, I doubled over, determined to feel my feet connected to the floor, the ground, the earth. I lifted each toe with my hands and placed it deliberately onto the floor. Then, I carefully isolated each part of each foot, feeling its connection to ground. Tears arose—of gratitude and release.
I shared many exquisite dances. With two experienced dancers, all of us threading and swooping in and out of each other. Several with my favorite dance partner ever, who I could dance with as a full time job and still find totally uncharted territory in every new minute. With a friend who I seem often to meet in playful Staccato and who I love to keep my eye on by bending backward, even as I spin and dip in our shared orbit.
Sometimes salvation is too much to hope for. I walk into the room feeling terrible and I leave feeling worse. Sometimes, sometimes if the stars are aligned and I have not eaten too much or too little and if I am willing to let everything move and if the sun is not in my eyes…sometimes I can walk in my truth, that everything, absolutely everything, is perfect. Even when it is a gigantic mess.