Finding Expression

Did you ever find yourself without expression: lacking words, gestures, images, forms of any kind that might express  the internal landscape? I do not think the landscape blank; it is more that I may have forgotten the language, or cannot  quite discipher a secret code. I can sense riches hidden within: wonders of the psyche – of the spirit. Perhaps I have lost the courage for revelation.

In the past, I lived in close connection with the depths, never questioning the expression of my thoughts and feelings. Childlike, I wept, laughed, danced. My body shouted, “Here I am.” I never wondered who I was, nor tried to fathom what I had to say. Being who I was was instantly translated into active sharing. I couldn’t help myself. If others were occasionally mystified by what I shared, that certainly didn’t stop me from expressing. Life was a full and glorious reality. It happened on its own if one were willing. And I was willing and determined to be me, Peter Pan in female form. “I’ll never grow up; not me!”

Yet somewhere along the way, I did grow up, became more cautious in my spilling forth of me. Reactions from a less than understanding world that, in the past, had caused a brief yet thorough deluge of emotion, began to have a deeper and more lasting effect. I found myself witholding gestures, gazing mutely out from my solitary tower. Walls grew thicker to protect someone I hardly knew. I began to wonder where I was and who she was. I still created, even danced at times. The vital force broke through the bonds and ageless glorious expression  found its way. But between these momentary liberations I retreated much more deeply and for longer periods.

Recently, I received my copies of the Southern Expressions show of February 25th, and watched again the woman dancing, drawing, speaking without hesitation. Happily, my critical eye was vanquished by my eager readiness for realization. Yes, I observed maturity: the obvious physical changes wrought by passing years. But through it all, the blythe spirit danced; this half hour retrospective gave me back to me. Gestures, images, and sculpural forms are clear and true. Language flows in easy rhythms, and I recognize the language as my own –  familiar words expressing who I am.  Perhaps I do still have the courage for revelation.  And now I hold the key.

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4 Responses to “Finding Expression”

  1. Kendall Says:

    Beautiful post, Leif. The most useful words I have ever heard on this subject were spoken by the dancer and choreographer, Bill T. Jones when he met with some of my students at Smith in 1992. One of the students asked him, “How do you know if you’re on the right path?” He paused for a moment, put his head in his hands, and then lifted his head, shook his locks, and laughed, “When I’m absolutely honest with everyone I meet, MY path is clear.”

    I took that so deeply into my heart that I have said it thousands of times since then. It’s a mantra for me. I need to be absolutely honest with everyone I meet–no soft-pedaling, so sugar-coating, no white lies to spare someone’s feelings. I have to be honest with everyone I meet (including my children and grandchildren, including my friends, including everyone) in order for my own path to be clear. When I distort, re-frame, or sweeten the truth to suit the hearer, I confuse myself. I believe my lies. I lose my way.

  2. leiflife Says:

    Dear one, if life could be so simple… For me, in the midst of this life I am doing my best to live, it truly isn’t. For the moment, I can hope to write this blog from an honest place – and thus, be honest with my self. It may be all I can manage now. I can find some peace in the writing of such a blog as I have written today. It has to be enough, for now…

  3. Kendall Says:

    Oh no! You misread me. I was NOT saying that what you wrote wasn’t enough. I thought I was understanding that you said what Bill T. Jones said, and that what he said was just an affirmation of what you said. I thought I was just agreeing. I was not asking anything of you, certainly not any more than what you’ve written here.

  4. leiflife Says:

    Perhaps I didn’t misread. I may have been so strongly affected by the thought of trying to live that way in my present circumstances that I had to say, “I can’t, and its alright if I can’t.” I really believe that when something stirs me up to that extent, it is probably a gift. The area of honesty, especially with family members continues to be a particularly challenging one. I believe my means of handling family, including my children, goes back to my childhood. In some areas I have been a revolutionary. But this is ingrained from the beginning. Mercy…

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