Inspired, Tired and Grateful for Hiding

I’ve had a heavenly week – got a Reader’s Favorite, five star review of my book Joy Ride: My One Legged Journey to Self-Acceptance, helped facilitate a fun improvisational dance workshop, “Start Where You Are”, as part of the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation (SFDI), and saw three amazing, enlightening performances of an ongoing, mixed-media performance piece called Intersecting Bodies, a collaboration between writer/dancer Farhad Bahram and dancer/choreographer Shannon Mockli. Honestly, a week of immersion in all things I love.

So how come I feel so wiped out? I expected all that inspiration, good news, fun and, play to buoy me, have me floating on a cloud with an open heart, and render me ready to move graciously through everything with endless, easy energy. HA! Not today anyway.

Here’s the scoop.

I think I should be doing more. I should spend hours each day immersed in planning for the next thing, writing blogs and FB posts, sharing every thought and feeling I have with myself and the universal soul. I should know exactly what I want to do next and be gung-ho on getting it done. But, I’m not doing that – I can’t or I don’t want to. I want to rest. I want to go inside and slow down, listen, retreat from the endless hot sun, emails, social media, and even from the fun, exciting world of performance and book reviews.

To my good fortune, I happened to read this excerpt from David Whyte’s book Consolations. It presented itself as part of a weekly astrology email, and it’s exactly what my soul needs to remember today. I so eagerly beat up on myself for hiding (may have even written a few posts on the subject), though I know deep in my cells that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for lots of previous, very productive periods of hiding. I take this stuff to heart, it buoys me. I’m grateful it popped up to greet me today.

HIDING
By David Whyte

HIDING is a way of staying alive. Hiding is a way of holding ourselves until
we are ready to come into the light. Even hiding the truth from ourselves
can be a way to come to what we need in our own necessary time. Hiding
is one of the brilliant and virtuoso practices of almost every part of the
natural world: the protective quiet of an icy northern landscape, the held
bud of a future summer rose, the snow bound internal pulse of the
hibernating bear.

Hiding is underestimated. We are hidden by life in our mother’s womb
until we grow and ready ourselves for our first appearance in the lighted
world; to appear too early in that world is to find ourselves with the
immediate necessity for outside intensive care.

Hiding done properly is the internal faithful promise for a proper future
emergence, as embryos, as children or even as emerging adults in retreat
from the names that have caught us and imprisoned us, often in ways
where we have been too easily seen and too easily named.

We live in a time of the dissected soul, the immediate disclosure; our
thoughts, imaginings and longings exposed to the light too much, too
early and too often, our best qualities squeezed too soon into a world
already awash with too easily articulated ideas that oppress our sense of
self and our sense of others.

What is real is almost always to begin with, hidden, and does not want to
be understood by the part of our mind that mistakenly thinks it knows
what is happening. What is precious inside us does not care to be known
by the mind in ways that diminish its presence.

Hiding is an act of freedom from the misunderstanding of others,
especially in the enclosing world of oppressive secret government and
private entities, attempting to name us, to anticipate us, to leave us with
no place to hide and grow in ways unmanaged by a creeping necessity for
absolute naming, absolute tracking and absolute control.

Hiding is a bid for independence, from others, from mistaken ideas we
have about our selves, from an oppressive and mistaken wish to keep us
completely safe, completely ministered to, and therefore completely
managed.

Hiding is creative, necessary and beautifully subversive of outside
interference and control. Hiding leaves life to itself, to become more of
itself. Hiding is the radical independence necessary for our emergence into
the light of a proper human future.

Excerpted from ‘HIDING’ in “CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and
Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words”
– 2015 © David Whyte

 

What Does It Mean to Show Up?

I watched the annual Fourth of July Butte to Butte 10k race from my balcony this morning and had a heartwarming sense of being a part of the event, even though I was three stories above the ground the runners’ feet pounded. I sat at the wide-open French doors smiling, taking in the exhilaration, exhaustion (my apartment is near the end of the race), camaraderie, and sheer joy that comes with being a part of something with other humans. It felt as if all my pores were wide-open, inviting in whatever vibes were emanating from the crowds below. I wasn’t lamenting about how my one-legged body never took to running, or berating my self for not trying harder to make it happen if I really wanted it. I wasn’t calling myself names like lazy or jealous. And, I was reminded of my previous week of traveling and performing with two different groups of dancer friends where I enjoyed the same sense of well-being, though I showed up in much more of a participatory way. How could the two different experiences generate the same inner contentment?

Early in the previous week, I traveled five hours by train to Seattle to perform in Joy Ride Unavoidable, an event sponsored by the Northwest Film Forum. We were a group of five performers who’ve been working together for a few years. The event was a multi-art extravaganza, showcasing four films by four artists, and an audience participation performance of Pina Bausch’s Nelken Line by a group of Dance 4 Parkinson’s dancers. I presented a short summary of my book, Joy Ride: My One-Legged Journey to Self-Acceptance, read a few short excerpts while dancing around the audience in my wheelchair, and then passed the reading on to a fellow dancer. I made my way onto an eight-by-eight foot stage set on three-foot risers and began a duet with another much-loved dancer. The reading and our movement interactions informed our ten-minute improvisation. The three of us had rehearsed briefly a few hours before the show. And, although we’ve known each other for many years, together we’d never before done anything like what we did that night. We were open to the possibilities, and invited our audience to join in the surprises.

Later in the week, I traveled south, to Ashland, OR, to perform with DanceAbility International on the Green Stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. A fully choreographed show, and a piece I’d performed many times before with my current dance partner, this event was different from the one in Seattle. We all knew what to expect…or did we? Sure, we each knew our routines, the flow of the pieces, how we’d begin and end, and since we’d been there before, we had a sense of the staff and audience. Yet, it seems all of that is just a small part of what happens during an event or a performance. It’s always something of an improvisation between the players and the watchers – the anticipation, expectations, surprises. The energy exchange. The love – dare I say?

Maybe that’s exactly it – the love, the sum total of myself I’m willing to share as either a participant/performer or watcher/audience is what brings that heartwarming sense of well-being. The runners making their way past my balcony this morning were inviting me into their experience. They were revealing themselves as participants in life, living fully in each moment while carrying on with their fellow travelers. I was a part of something I wasn’t really participating in because they opened themselves to me.

It’s my hope that I can do the same – invite others to share in my living in all spheres. It’s not that I aim to share everything I think and do with others – more just the sense of being alive with an openness that invites others into the spirit of my life. It’s why I took the time to write a memoir. And I hope I can find ways to join in the spirit of others’ lives. Seems to me this is the way we grow, and learn to accept and love. Maybe even be happy – whatever that much-overrated state of being encompasses.

Here’s a picture of the DanceAbility crew in our civvies after the Oregon Shakespeare Festival performance. That’s me in the middle in the yellow shirt.

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