The walls of the room where I’ve danced for over thirteen years are made of thick wooden slats. Each one, about four inches wide, stained dark brown, offers a surface to push against, to create space between my body and a world that attempts, or has attempted, to close in on me, asking me to conform, to believe, to shrink, to silence myself, to become smaller, tighter, more like what I am expected to be.
But I am not that.
The body knows I am not what I’ve claimed to be.
Hands push against, hard against the slats, arms reaching to their full arc, feeling their full length, their full aliveness.
Hands pressed against the slats, feet firmly planted on the floor, I move to the beat, slowly arcing and arching out into fullness of being and expression. Something inside me pushes out, trying to return to its natural shape and arc and arch, trying to feel into what it remembers itself to be.
Space opens, virgin space between center and the arc of my full reach. Space opens, lungs expand, belly relaxes, hips soften, and big exhales come.
Suddenly there is room for soul, room to feel beyond body, to know that I am not this body yet beautifully and firmly rooted in and through flesh and bones.
Something inside knows it is not ‘in relation to’ but instead ‘simply is’. Something knows that all moves to be this or that could never be the expression of what it is.
What it is has no counterpart, no opposite, no comparison. What it is just is.
I find myself pushing away from… ideas and meanings and arguments. Not arguments as in arguing, but arguments as in crafting a cogent, logical premise and all of the words and ideas that must follow in order to substantiate my point and myself.
I find myself pushing away from… stating my case, needing to tell you how to be, needing to tell you how I should be, and needing to tell you anything about yourself.
Who am I to say?
I find myself pushing away from… separation, me here, you there, objectification, duality, and pushing into freedom where there is only one.
Outside of my mind and thoughts and rigidity, I find freedom. Freedom to just breathe, to feel the inhale and exhale on the soft skin just below my nose and above my upper lip. Freedom to feel the true spaciousness of soul as I shimmer and flow ever so gently as a stream. Freedom to listen for song, to feel appetite, to know the rise and fall of each wave of creation creating itself.
I lie on the day bed in virgin space, soft after three days soaking in pools of warm sulphur water, feeling waves of being, softly moving in and out, in and out, in and out, alongside breath. I move in and out.
Here, self is fluid space, silently becoming and dissolving with each breath, outside of the mind that conceives of. There is no longer an impulse to do anything, fix anything, change anything. It all just flows, on its own, in its own rhythm, beat and meter.
No river banks. No shore. No solidity. Just pulse, heart beat, rising, falling, contracting, expanding.
Everything is new and old, ancient and deep, virgin and light, growing and decaying, one sea.
photo by Manuel Barroso Parejo under creative commons zero
In my newsletter that I sent the other day, I wrote about pleasure. You can read about it here.
Pleasure is an interesting word in that there seems to be so much cultural judgment against the word, and against women experiencing pleasure. But pleasure is simply ‘a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment’.
As I wrote about pleasure (in a different vein), I also realized how so often when I am creating I am in a state of pleasure – especially when I am dancing – and how often I am in a state of the opposite of pleasure – contraction, pressing hard, tightness – especially when writing the book I’ve been working on.
When I dance, it isn’t for anyone else. There is no finished product. There is simply the experience of dancing for no particular outcome at all – yet the outcome that comes by and of itself is always one of pleasure – a very simple joy.
Joy is one of the qualities of creativity!
I know enough about creativity to know that there is always some sort of creative tension at the very heart of the process. The tension comes from the process itself, because we don’t know and we realize we don’t know and this is uncomfortable. In the process, we have to let go of how things are, and we have to let go of the way we think things are supposed to turn out, so the seed of expression can germinate and grow into what the seed is intended to be.
When I am creating ‘something’, I more often experience this contraction. Suddenly, I want to have a say in how it turns out.
But, everything comes from a seed, even if it is only (what seems like) a simple seed – a simple idea. At the heart of the seed IS the creation. Our job as creators is to give way to this seed, to allow it to germinate and grow without too much interference.
The way I usually interfere is through my incessant need for a quasi-perfection, an ‘almost-perfection’ that never gets where I want it to get.
Consider all the ways you try to make yourself be something you are not; consider how much effort this takes; and, consider that no matter how much of this effort you keep applying, you never get to the state of perceived perfection you’ve created in your mind. It always stays a quasi-perfection of what you think you are trying to achieve. But, if in reality, perfection is simply something being as it is, all of this work toward perfection only takes you (me, us) away from perfection because there is no allowing, there is no surrender, there is no letting go so what is there can be known.
Perfection is simply the seed growing into what it is meant to be.
Perfection in creativity is the process of midwifing this seed into being.
This reminds me of the Lotus flower, pictured above. The Lotus flower grows out of what seems to be such ordinary looking leaves and roots and water, yet the Lotus itself is luminescent and other-worldly. This is the real you. You are the Lotus flower, and so are your creations.
Knowing this, how does that change your own creative process? How does this change how you see yourself in relationship to the creations that are trying to come through you? How does this change how you see you?
Perfection and pleasure, together!
How much more pleasure-filled might your creative experiences be if you were to create from this different mindset of perfection?
Perfection already is. When we know this, the creative process, whatever it is we are creating, is a process of allowing and unveiling. It is a process of co-creation with you and the life that is expressing through you. In this process, both you and the creation are changed. (And, yes, it is you and you.) All you. All life.
In my course, Becoming a Force on Nature, one of the last modules in the twelve is ‘Be Ordinary‘. It is exactly this sense of perfection, that when you are simplyyou, ordinary, the extraordinary can finally shine through.
Again, the Lotus is an expression of what happens when we are ordinary. When you are ordinary, there is no striving, pressing, or stressing to be something you are not, and it is ONLY in this state of ordinariness that your truly extraordinary perfection (that you cannot make happen!) can shine through.
It doesn’t come through because of anything you have done, it comes through by simply allowing yourself to grow out of the muck and mud of everything in your life that is seemingly contradictory to either your perfection or your pleasure. Yet is is not…
It is the muck and mud of life that is the seed bed for your beauty and creative capacity.
Oh, and in the course we also cover Sexuality and Voice, and how closely creativity, sexuality and voice are related. We dive directly into Pleasure.
Experience the Course for Free!
If you are interested in finding out, I’m offering my course, Becoming a Force of Nature, over these summer months, running from June 2nd through September 3rd, 2014.
You can find out more about the course, here, including the recording of the information call I held.
Our first call is on June 4th, with the first module being released on the 2nd, to give you time to go over the material.
The first module and call (June 4th) are open to EVERYONE!
I’d love for you to sign-up here to receive the module so you can take a look at the material.
It is powerful material and it will give you many insights into how:
creativity is not just about art
YOU ARE creative
the more you trust in your nature as a creative being and as a woman, the more it (and you!) will flow.
and so much more.
We all want autonomy and sovereignty – and so do our creations.
The Lotus photo is by Liza Fox (c), an accomplished photographer and my niece!
“What if you knew you’d be the last to touch someone?”
~ Ellen Bass*
I read these words. My mind flashes back.
I was the last…as he was dying; then, as he lay dead.
So many times, I’ve wished I could have known what was coming so I could have said what (in hindsight) I would liked to have said.
My mind flashes forward. I no longer touch him and I am not the last.
I find endings so damn hard.
Some sweet part of this personality hates letting go of those I’ve loved…those final letting goes that happen when I must part from the bodies of those I’ve loved.
Some dead. Some alive.
In the hardness, I go a little unconscious and do things that (after the fact) I wish I hadn’t done. I tighten up against the impending ending and leaving.
Yes, yes, I know they stay with me. In my heart. Their spirits always here. Yes, yes, I know. And, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about how my body will never be with their body in the same way.
Body to body… touching, connecting, loving, making love. So many times, my touch on the skin of my lover has been unconscious AND so many times my touch has truly been a prayer in motion.
“…before you make love to a woman or to a man, first pray — because it is going to be a divine meeting of energies. God will surround you. Wherever two lovers are, there is God. Wherever two lovers’ energies are meeting and mingling, there is life, alive, at its best; God surrounds you. Churches are empty; love-chambers are full of God. If you have tasted love the way Tantra says to taste it, if you have known love the way Tao says to know it, then by the time you reach forty-two, love starts disappearing on its own accord. And you say goodbye to it with deep gratitude, because you are fulfilled. It has been delightful, it has been a blessing; you say good-bye to it.”
“…you say goodbye to it with deep gratitude, because you are fulfilled. It has been delightful, it has been a blessing; you say good-bye to it.”
These words are so foreign to this sweet part of me that has such a hard time letting go. It has been delightful. It has been a blessing. Can’t it continue? Forever? Can’t I hold you through eternity?
My soul knows the answer is, “No”. My soul knows this No. To know the deepest joy in a moment of touch, I must know the ending of that touch. To know the deepest joy in the full inhale, I must know the letting go in the exhale.
Life in the body is life in limitation. Learning this makes it all the sweeter. Not necessarily easier at all, yet all the while sweeter.
Knowing touch is a momentary kiss of skin to skin sweetens the magic.
I can hover over the past (I do) as if I can still touch it…but that touch is not touch, it is remembering how it was to touch.
This sweet part wants to hang on, fingers curled; but, fingers curled tightly can’t touch… again, … anew.
Uncurling brings open palms and fingertips ready for new skin.
And the old loves still breathing? I’m learning to touch with the tenderness of friend.
In the end, touch is prayer in motion. It comes and it goes, as everything that moves does. And it all moves.
Reverb10 Day 05
Prompt: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
This is a rambling post, and I’m rambling, trusting that where I end up will bring us full circle…in some way.
Today I read Tia Singh’s post for reverb10, wherein she wrote these words:
…write as if I had a million in the bank, and nothing to gain from my writing.
Bammo. These words hit me hard. They zinged me, I mean ZINGED me!
I have learned to allow myself to write deeply here. I still sometimes get the occasional stomach tightening when I hit ‘Publish’, a good thing because it means I’m uncomfortable with something being seen, but for the most part, I realize I’m now a little too comfortable…most of the time.
I’ve pushed myself this year. I’ve shared things I thought I wouldn’t share. It didn’t kill me. In fact, it was freeing. Freeing to unveil myself here, to the women and men that read me on a regular basis.
I still have a ‘thing’ about writing about my personal life. About sharing my stories. I’ve told myself for a long time that others don’t want to know stories of my life, that telling things about my daily life is a little too narcissistic. And yet, I know how important it is for women to share their stories.
I’ve been swimming in the shallow end with a book I’m writing. I’ve dived in the deep end a number of times, only to climb out of the water and sit by the side of the pool, to grab air, to sun myself, to feel the comfort of the ground beneath me. The deep end seems to be where the juice of the book is. Yet, I resist. I come up for air before big chunks of work get done. The scramble and chaos of writing something about these parts of my life, these parts of me, churn me around, so I surface for long periods on end.
Like Tia’s words, Patti’s image spoke to me the moment I saw it. Recognition. Half the face light and beautiful, full of color and life, sort of like the shallow end where the light pierces more readily. The other half dark, chaotic, unknown. She’s veiled. I’m veiled.
What’s inside here? inside of me?
Veils can be beautiful. They can create an aura of mystery, of exotic sensuality. But, perhaps that’s mainly in the movies. The veils I see in the real world seem to hide women. I don’t know what it is like to have to wear a veil…a burka. I don’t know that experience.
I do know what it is to be veiled in my own way, for I fear exposure.
I fear exposure, and yet, I have a choice. No one is veiling me, except myself.
Somewhere, the dark holds promise for me. I’ve been told often enough in spiritual circles that shadow work brings light.
I’ve been in the dark enough times to know it can be a fruitful trip. But then there I go again, expecting a gain. Can I dive into the deep end without expectation of gain? Can I unveil myself, not only to me, but to you, without expectation of gain…or expectation that you’ll like what you see…that I’ll like what I see?
This book that’s been lurching around inside me now for far too long feels very deep and raw. Now I know that’s a good thing. And, it scares the crap out of me.
But it has to come out. Tia’s words, especially ‘nothing to gain’, spell freedom to write. When I read her words, I realized I’ve been holding on to the idea that there will be something to gain if I get it right. Not just personally, but also collectively. I’ve put a shitload of pressure on myself to ‘get it right’. And in the pressure to get it right, nothing comes out, nothing gets written.
If I am true to the writing, if I write what wants to be written, then I must give up my expectations of gain for me, of being understood, of being liked. What wants to be written isn’t about me. It’s the me that holds back, not what wants to be born.
I’ve had a vision for some time now. I see something that feels hard to explain to people. I see a land where women come out of the dark, out of the shadow of men, out into the light so they can see themselves as they are, as beautiful sacred beings. We are different than men. We have been told we are less than, second-class. Women all over the world are being treated in ways unimaginable, right now.
Women, whom these atrocities are being acted upon, are sacred beings. We bring life into life. We are sacred beings because the soul of a newborn life enters the world within a woman’s body. I’ve experienced this. I’ve given birth. I’ve witnessed my daughters both give birth. I’ve watched death come and take those I love. I’ve experienced the love that is present at both moments of birth and moments of death.
“The light of the soul of the world needs the participation of all who are open to this work. But part of our redemption of the feminine is to acknowledge that certain work can only be done by women. The interconnections of life belong to the wisdom of the feminine and a woman’s body holds the knowledge of how the worlds interrelate. Masculine consciousness imaged a transcendent divinity—the feminine knows how the divine is present in every cell of creation. Women know this not as abstract knowledge, but part of their instinctual nature—in the womb the light of a soul can come into physical form. Life is standing at the edge of an abyss of forgetfulness waiting for the light of the world to be born. This birth needs the wisdom of the feminine, and women must take their place in this time of great potential.”
Life is standing at the edge of an abyss of forgetfulness waiting for the light of the world to be born. This birth needs the wisdom of the feminine, and women must take their place in this time of great potential.
An abyss of forgetfulness.
Am I willing to remember? Am I willing to take my place? I KNOW, from my own experiences, that the divine is present in every cell of creation. I KNOW this. I FEEL this. I’ve seen many deaths and births, and know how the worlds relate.
I know these things of which Llewellyn speaks, because I’ve lived them. We women all know these things. They are in the stories of our lives.
We’re waiting for the light of the world to be born. We are in darkness already. There is destruction, war, greed, torture, passivity, unwillingness to feel. And it’s all right here in my unwillingness to stay in the deep end, until something new emerges.
I can’t know what will emerge from my own dive. It is mine to take. Exposure. Chaos. Nothing to be gained. Everything to be gained.
How can I know what I am capable of unless I let go and see?
How can I know what women can offer, if I’m not willing to see what I have to offer?
I’d be foolish to believe I have let go of this. It’s a process of letting go. And letting go. And letting go.
Marianne Williamson says we no longer have time to preach or sing to anyone but the choir. I know you beautiful women and men know all of this. What I know I now am asking for is a community of women and men to walk with, side by side, as we do whatever is being asked of us by that which wants to move through us, by that which wants our freedom, by that which is dying to be born.
Will you join me? Can I join you?
Veiled is by Patti Agapi. You can see more of Patti’s work on Flickr. Thank you, Patti, for permission to share your work here.