Archive for January, 2010

I Believe in Fairies

January 26, 2010

Today is one of those clear crisp days when every leaf on every tree appears to have been touched by magic. In my mind, the fairies who live in my woods have gone beserk at the prospect of spring’s approach, and their madcap soaring, tumbling, and cavorting has deposited glittering dust on everything, including me. Yes, the shine has returned in earnest, almost denying the shadows of yesterday. Bless them…

I have waked with an appetite for life this morning. It hardly matters what form it takes, but like the fairies, I noticed evidence of  the earth’s renewal. When I walked out with the dogs in the early light, my heart was touched by the seemingly overnight appearance of tender dewberry vines. Their modest green was tinged with crimson, and my heart went soft at their courage, knowing that a wintry fr0st was still a possibility. Yet I loved the thought of being witness to their various incarnations. If allowed, the vines will grow strong and and make prickly thorns. Then pinkish-white flowers like tiny wild roses will appear, and I’ll feel the urge to draw and paint their fleeting beauty. These last for a while as the heart of the berry to come is formed. Then the flowers, whose delicate grace I’ve begun to take for granted, are suddenly gone, leaving small green nubs. I try to forget about dewberries for a while; they take their time. But I pray for plentiful rain and abundant sunlight and rejoice as red berries swell into plump dark fruit. The plumper, the darker, the sweeter the taste, and on every walk for several weeks, the dogs must be patient as I pause and partake.  Purple juice stains my fingers and tongue and the long ago springs of childhood catch up with the woman I’ve become.  In the season of spring when the dewberries share their dance, I am hand in hand with the fairies,  ageless and brimming with life.  Yes, I do believe…

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What if?

January 24, 2010

There are days when striving seems absurd; taking refuge in the simple life is the only possible choice. One surrenders to dog walks, naps, or drives in the car with Maria Callas doing all the singing. Yesterday was one of these days. At first it felt like mere contentment: the beauty of wanting nothing. I may even have congratulated myself on being free, on having no need to figure out anything. I was acceptable, just as I was. In the afternoon, a gnawing indication of restlessness caused some regret, for wasting the very best hours of the day. I’d had time to create, my children and grandchildren otherwise occupied, yet there was  nothing to show. Not even a blog.  

Once guilt asserts itself, my childlike pleasure in simply being can vanish in an instant. The merciless critic calls forth the failed adult; the hours of one day become the weeks, months, years that trail behind me, heavy reminders of that which was left undone. Peace in the present and hope for the future are crowded out by the enemy. Despair begins to wear a triumphant grin and I turn my back on my dreams, convinced that I am too old to realize the life I was born to live.

Now I’m embarrassed by what I have written here for others to read. I have never liked to display my shadow side.  Beauty thrills me, and light is a glorious prospect. Perhaps I am sure that the dark self riding in tandem with the transcendant dancer will surely be rejected — as she was in childhood.  The doubts, fears,  angers, and shy withdrawals  were not acceptable — while the graceful prettiness of the dancing child was embraced and praised. I learned, early on, that to be pleasing was to be loved. I think if I could fully love a less than pleasing me, then she would be free to show me something wonderful.

Homeward

January 22, 2010

In 1977, in the wake of discovering and developing the dance technique that I came to call Airth, I choreographed a dance I called “Going Home” after the hymn written by William Arms Fisher. It was my first attempt at applying Airth to an actual, repeatable dance, and the music was the largo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony. This music co-operated beautifully with my breath-born movements, and of all the dances created that year, this was the lasting one. I found it a metaphor for life as well as a perfect companion for my “Airth” journey. I danced it countless times, in performances and for a competetion held in Boston in 1978. The last time I physically danced it was in 1998 at the Ocean Springs Community Center for a retrospective presentation of my dancing life. Yet, even now, hearing the largo on public radio eases me into the flow of breath-born movement. I release myself gratefully to the journey homeward.

Last night I dreamt I was seated in a theater watching “Going Home”. My dance was being performed by women of all ages. Smaller and larger groups interchanged with ease as the music progressed, and I rested happily in the unbroken flow of my own creation. This was a gift that surprised me at first, for I was observer; my own participation subtle. But no less real… I came to recognize and appreciate this new form of my old dance. I was glad to be where I was, and not prepared for the dream to end before the dance. Yet the glorious sound of the largo was replaced in an instant by  the sudden flapping of cocker spaniel ears, accompanied by the familiar tinkle of dog tags. This was music of a sort: my old dog Music, and when I resisted this wake up call, a silky head pushed its way beneath my hand. I let go of the dream to open my eyes on a small black dog named Star. I was home.

Night Journey

January 21, 2010

Last night in a dream I wandered the streets of Paris. At first I felt abandoned by friends and family, and scorned by parisians whose language I stumbled over. I moved as one lost, not knowing if, where, or when I would find myself. Yet the city enticed me; my sadness at being alone was overwhelmed — by active beauty. Around me inimitable streets, bridges, gardens and sculptural buildings attracted my eye, involving my alien body in the life that pulsed so irresistably around me. For all of the night, sleeping and waking, I remained a captivated dreamer and a liberated soul. I was a flaneur, freed from time and compelled by my own meandering progress, but eventually an encounter with a writer inspired me to settle down and translate my experiences into words.

This was obviously an escape dream, a reprieve from the day’s nonstop participation in the lives of others. The dream returned me to myself, restoring the balance, so to speak. I was willingly reminded of my other side: lone wolf, explorer, one who prays by moving and is restored by writing her internal revelations. . .

Interestingly (regretfully?), I was called out of this restoring blog by a family crisis that must be answered. It was a life or death situation, or seemed so.  Don’t they all seem so? The day was long and compellingly involving. I didn’t come home until five, and had eaten no lunch. I was experiencing the kind of numbness that comes from denying one’s inner cries. How can I acknowledge those cries that must be so deeply buried that the cries of my children overwhelm them? For I find them to be easily ignored when those persistent and long heeded cries break into my space. The children’s cries are welcome because I don’t know any other way. The mother heart leaps to respond, while the deeper, pre-children portion is only a few cries short of withering from neglect. That portion woke me last night with its unmet needs, and we lay there struggling for quite some time. It wasn’t an easy time. My  need for sleep was at odds with her efforts to make me listen.  So today I am tired, yet it seems I am listening now, and bravely sharing her need if not the solution. Could my recognition that her need is my need be the solution — possibly even for my children?

Remembering Innocence

January 18, 2010

Today I looked into the face of innocence; newly born, the son of my son lay small and unaware of the love that danced in the air between us.  He came from his mother’s breast into my arms, and he lay in the aftermath of absolute bliss. I was the fortunate recipient of his recent bonding. I could happily pretend I was included in the bond. If he was complete, then I was complete, until I relinquished him to his parents and left the room.

Out in my car, removed from the happy scene, I felt my aloneness  gather itself familiarly around me. My joy in the new child did linger, yet I was free of the brief illusion, knowing myself to be peripheral, as I was in so many other settings.  I can enter a scene of togetherness, and for moments believe in my own belonging — my oneness with those so at home in the scene. Then I depart to return to my solitary state of union. I awaken again and again to the truth. I am only truly at home with myself, or perhaps I should say my Self. There is a mysterious sense of oneness when I enter the realm of creativity.  For when I surrender self-consciousness  to the process of creating, I find myself gazing into my own forgotten innocence, bonding yet again with my newly born self.

Rainy Day Gestures

January 17, 2010

The day began with erratic spatters of rain on the tin roof above my head. This gave me the permission to linger over my coffee and my journal. I wrote the date, thinking of someone special out of my past, feelling peaceful enough to bless and release him to whatever joy he finds in his present dance. 

As for me, I shall count my own blessings — modest though they may be at this moment in time: the glowing and silent space that surrounds and shelters me; the love-eyes of Star patiently fixed upon me. She knows that the last bite of my banana is hers. Music remains in his doggy dream world, having no taste for bananas and wise enough to know that the rain will delay the morning walk. Truly, the journaling used up my taste for words, so this comes late in the day after simple Saturday occupations. I, too, can be patient, occasionally, and now, I come to this bloggy dance in receipt of various unexpected gifts.

An email from my good friend, Christopher Maurer, enquiring about the MPB interview, inspired me to tell him of A Dance of Balance, and he wrote me back about his own blog. He is my father’s biographer, but so much more. His blog address is www.dreaminginclay.wordpress.com

This little dance of renewal renewed my faith in this process, and I realize I need to let people know I am doing this. I guess I’ve been testing the waters of my willingness to keep this moving. Also, I have been too critical of what I have written so far. It is what it is. All I can do is be in this now, and trust the next.

The next now could bring a new grandchild, a brand new being to expand my heart further, to strengthen the ongoing dance of life. Leiflife!

The Dance or The Dream

January 15, 2010

Last night I braced myself for the questionable pleasure of watching my sixty-five year old self in a television interview on MPB. This weekly program is Southern Expressions with Ron Brown interviewing various artists in the Mississippi area. It was supposedly to be my night. There would be dancing in addition to  questions and answers in an armchair setting, but knowing myself, I knew that the whole kit and kaboodle would be a dance. My mirror has prepared me for the shock of seeing someone much older than the inner self with her endless youthful dances. So, yes, I braced myself, only to find that, for whatever reason, there would be no dance. I had been replaced by two very pleasant and talented photographers.

Confusion was my first reaction, than embarrassment at the thought of friends and family members who were watching also. As though I was in some way responsible for the absence of me  before their expectant eyes.  When they phoned I declared my ignorance of the lack, then joined in laughter at the jokes life plays upon us.  I hung up to watch another show from some years back during which I am interviewed about my father. I observed the graceful older woman speak of her artist father’s egocentricities, his absence, and his needs as an artist. She laughed affectionately over her father’s strangeness and her freqent childish denials of  him, and I flinched at this gracious version of the truth. I watched to the bitter end, still missing the dancer I had braced myself to see. Apparently there was reason for bracing myself, just not the reason I had supposed.

My eventual sleep was beset by a dream: the kind of  dream one watches from outside.  The main character was a woman with a persistantly violent husband. She suffered his assaults, making loaf after loaf of homeade bread to appease him. Finally he saw her attacked by another man, and his violence ceased, to be replaced by compassion. The woman gathered the countless loaves, some hardened by age or mildewed, some fresh and still edible. She carried them all to the front porch of the house, and threw them over the edge and into the water. Large turtles came swimming up to devour the bread.

This dream dances heavily through my mind: a constant stream of potent images. I begin to believe that this is the dance I should brace myself to receive.

A Passionate sky

January 13, 2010

Winter sunshine is a strong bright presence in my room. It spills relentlessly through a high up window, causing my eyes to squint at this screen, and heating up my left side. I am not exactly comfortable with the intensity of its message. I feel quiet inside, my mind rather lazy, reluctant even to seek words. So I fall back on nature, the dependable source when the inner life would seem to fall silent. I take note of the natural world, its eager and effortless expression, I admire its mindless explosion of light and warmth on bitter cold days.

Yesterday, walking out in the cold late afternoon with my dogs, I was blessed by a winter sunset. The  sky was a deep rose color. A passionate sky! I stood still and basked in its beauty, as the little dogs raced directly into its fiery glow. For them it was all one: the gravel road opening up before them, the starkly graceful trees to sniff and poop beneath, the glorious few moments of freedom from four walls and their pre-occupied human companion.  They epitomized the scene I gazed upon. Their message to me was: wake up and live; don’t miss this chance to be the passionate abandon you stand in awe of. Yet I walked on slowly, mourning the now fading sky, while they moved on to roam the shadowy underbrush, equally delighted by night’s approach — and the tantalizing scent of fox and raccoon. It was time to call them back, to remind them of the pleasures of being tame: Shelter from the freeze that was on its way, and plenty of food at regular hours, affection and cozy companionship, dependable love. That last is their special gift to me: dependable love — and a passionate response to life. At least I know it when I see it.

Merci, Lily

January 12, 2010

Last year I was dancing my  way through a novel. It was a supine sort of dance. I reclined on my big green couch, laptop suspended above my body, hands moving slowly or rapidly over the keys. But, oh what a dance it was. The characters danced into being, and graciously pulled me with them. I was the young dancer, Lily – so strong, sure, and determined to dance her own dance, so horribly hurt by the detour that became her salvation, then triumphant and free as her true dance was realized and carried her all the way to Paris. Her delightful and faithful circle of friends were my friends, and their many adventures in that delicious environment were mine as well. Dreams came true for Lily and her friends. The world opened up like a flower and invited them in, and I was the fortunate one who accompanied them from my comfy old couch. What a rich and celebratory journey we made together! What a wondrous dance!

This morning I woke with Lily in my mind, and the moment I noticed her presence, she began to dance in my heart, so determined to be my reminderer of the day. As she danced, she called forth Paris, the vibrant atmosphere, the taste of croissants and cafe creme, the windy gestures of the chestnut trees, the feel of striding freely, attuned to interior music.  I lift my eyes to the beauty of Lily’s Paris, inhaling the truth:  Lily’s dance isn’t over. Nor is mine.

Invitation to The Dance

January 11, 2010

I tell myself and others that response is a lovely thing. I am dancing this blog into the world, and by so doing, opening myself to the return gesture. As the flow moves out, so does it return, and I summon the courage I will need to keep dancing, to rejoice in the interactive dance that I have been lacking, to welcome the life that bubbles to the surface as I dare to dance.

In the eighties, I was in the full flow of my dance, not holding back, despite the joys and demands of motherhood and occasional frustrations with the dance world. While living in New York, I performed at The Theater of The Open Eye, Dance Theater Workshop, Eden’s Expressway, and various lofts. I was also a member of the Feminist Writer’s Guild, meeting every two weeks with other women writers to read aloud and receive response. Here is one of those early poems in prose form:

For me, dance is ephemeral, flying out from immediacy. And I am that immediacy. Bound, I am rebounding. Leaning into temporal states, I am set free. My temporal state contains my weight, in flesh and muscle, bony frame amassed around the circle of my breath. Released, the circle turns and flows, creating force invoving mass immediately surrounding. Movement is born. Not to be contained, each movement gives itself, kissing the air and vanishing, forever free. I cannot think that what brings joy now, must be caught up, insuring me of future joy. For I am changing, turning with each breath I take to new beginnings. Forward into the midst of turmoil let me pass, for I am not alone. And you? Will you come too, to let your breath roll over edges, lose your  balance and regain, begin again. Your love assures me of your dance. You will come too. Now, you and I, we are the saviours of ourselves, and none can grasp our movement, pin it down, nor analyze its unique form. In truth it has no form, unless that form be truth. So shall we dance?

Was that younger me courageous or foolish, with her bold declarations of freedom, and her assumption that others  would want to share her dance? Was she promising something so nebulous that others would be more confused than thrilled by the possibilities she proposed. It doesn’t matter. She was a blythe spirit, and I love her for it. She was fully alive, sharing the dance of the moment. As I am now…