I’m Not Built for a Bed and Breakfast

This is a place for quiet, little people. I’m all arms and legs and bumping into things. The mere act of turning around causes the German couple across the hall to wrinkle their noses at their door, looking up over their glasses and newspapers from bed when I ram into the dresser. I cannot extend every part of myself fully without touching an antique.

And the last thing I want to do when I am choreographing is eat breakfast with strangers. I want to be quiet and brood, not polite. I’m testing each day to find out the greatest time probability of solitude, but the Germans and I are on the same schedule no matter what time I go down. I cannot escape my heritage.

In spite of my desires, I did have an interesting conversation yesterday with a scientist who studies water from deep Earth. Water from levels that we will never reach, so his work is entirely theoretical. He studies water that he cannot so will never see or touch. We decided that this is where our professions are most similar. He is looking at earthquakes and shifting rock and water flow to somehow figure out how over a very long period of time, our planet does not fall apart; it thrives. Putting together clues to begin to tell a story about something so vast as to be unknowable. I do something similar in that I’m plumbing what lies within the subconscious: fleeting metaphors, glimpses of feeling, instincts. I take these things and attempt and build a story that speaks to some aspect of the vast, unknowable infinite.

As I walk to the studio in the rain, an old man growls at me “German boooooy…” I cannot escape my heritage.

Photo: © Erik Tomasson

It is infinitely delicious to have a brilliant night’s sleep after 2 days of insomnia. I can feel the blood coursing through my veins. My brain is a shiny lightbulb. I feel privileged to breathe. A day of delirium helped shed my ego and now with a clear head I can maintain, or perhaps have integrated, some freedom from doubt and be even more present.

I’ve finished a draft of about 5 minutes of a 6 and a half minute duet. It’s certainly far enough along to, for the first time, see the scope of what this dance will evoke. I can begin to see energetically how it will ebb and flow and make some decisions to change the choreography or to coach the dancers (more on them tomorrow) in a different way. Today I am not driven by the pangs of panic that tell me I will never figure out the puzzles inherent in this work; I instead feel blessed for those challenges. When I come to the last hour, instead of choosing (as maybe I more commonly would have in the past) to push ahead so that I can feel the relief of getting to the end, I move backward and make some of the needed changes and spend some time talking about the details of the work.

I can recognize today what is necessary in creative angst. This is not a self-comforting justification that gets me through pain, but step to be valued and even encouraged. I can emerge today as a new person only because of the perspective derived from going through hell and then out the other side. Not to mention the content stirred up in the pot: old demons poked in the belly and belching a prismatic tapestry which is not merely decorative, but profound.

2 Comments

  1. Nothing about ‘creative angst’ was ever to be ‘comforting’….it is the cross one bears for being creative and being driven at a very deep level, like an underground fire…or shall we say ‘Fire in the Belly’.

    1. I used to think it was a way of purging those demons, but I’ve come to learn that is more a way create a loving home for them.

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