Zorba the Greek
Some of us have gotten very good at sitting and have forgetten how to dance. We live in a world of words and purposeful activity. We are fluent in logic. We know how to control our impulses. Yet, we have lost the ability to tell a story with our bodies. We are unable to feel the creative impulse in our movements. Instead, we clunk down drab hallways and concrete sidewalks like walking machines. No spare movement allowed. In our mass societies creative movement is mostly limited to artists or is appropriate in dark rooms with loud music.
Contrast this with traditional cultures where dance tells the story of life. There are peoples who know that dance is the expression of the soul as well as the embodiment of life. In these places dancers express the mysteries of the universe and tell the truths as they are known to the culture. Some dances are stylized. Some are chaotic. Many are transformative. Dance is an expression of life. It reflects the creative power within our bodies and minds. It is the gift of an energetic God.
Some of us early on got the parental message that real men don't swish their hips (John Wayne seems to have been the lone exception). Girls seem to be given a little more leeway. They are valued for moving gracefully, but unless she wants to give the message that she is selling something, the female, we come to learn, had best keep her moves within appropriate limits. Then again, in the big city if you see someone moving eccentrically you might just think there is something wrong with them. Maybe they're sick, maybe they're crazy.
Some of these behavioral limitations have useful functions. In a culture where most of your interpersonal interactions are anonymous our movement norms help us understand what kind of person we are dealing with.
That being said, we are at risk of losing an important part of our humanity when we lose our ability to move expressively. When our movements are tight and mechanical we are holding back our expressiveness. Body oriented therapies share the point of view that emotional stress manifests in blocks in the muscle and tissue of our bodies. They vary in their approaches to releasing the blocks, but we can say that loosening up your movement patterns can help you with your stress. It can help you be more real and more creative.
This week view life as a dance. Appreciate the rhythm, movement and power of events. See yourself as a dancer in this dance, a player in the rhythmic unity of it all.
Hear the rhythm of life, the changes of tempo. Find your own rhythm. See if you can identify the music that should play as background to your story. How do you move? What sound moves you?
As you go about your days sense your own grace. When you walk, imagine you are a great dancer. Move as the dancer moves. Step lightly and gracefully. Find your center of gravity and move from there.
Take some time, alone or with others, just to dance as an expression of life.
© 1998-2002 Tom Barrett