Yesterday, I walked face-first into a plate glass window. I was somewhat distracted by reading an article on the wall next to it, but when I walked into it, it was straight ahead, eyes forward – then the shock of light and air condensing into hard ice and not understanding why I am stopped in space. I’ve seen people do this on the internet and thought it was the most dumb-assed, oblivious move and it’s funny. Some windows are just too clean.
My grandmother was known to have a preternatural ability to read people. Her first take was the right take and you could set your watch by it. People called it psychic, called it developed intuition, called it supernatural. I’ve always imagined it as part of my inheritance…a belief that’s been fortified by a very few profound premonitions during my lifetime. Perhaps it’s the reason I became an artist, or perhaps it’s just a quality that has defined the kind of artist I am, but I can’t think of a better discipline to develop razor-sharp acuity for seeing to the heart of people, to the seed of what is going on in truth…the truth beyond the truths that we speak first…I can’t think of a better way to grow these capacities than being an artist…and especially an artist who works with people as part of their actual process (as in both choreography and photography).
There isn’t anything I spend more time on than turning inside out and peeling away the layers from what we as societies big and small, agree to be the truth, in a quest to find what it is really happening just beneath the surface. And one of the biggest struggles for me has been to accept that my intuition is correct. That in fact everyone’s intuition is right if we can just get all of our conscious desire and fear and control out of the way and listen. Every time, and I am here to say every time, that I have ignored that internal barometer, I have regretted it.
So as a discipline, I have learned to just listen to and believe the messages that come to me. However, in the ways of pendulums and extremes, too much focus on one good thing can cause some blindness.
I have a new friend. We are so excited to know each other. We crawl inside of each others’ brains and root around and identify, empathize, challenge, test, get delighted, get angry, get drunk on each other’s presence.
One day he said something to me that triggered that feeling of clarity. I immediately descended into the wormhole of acute understanding. I knew where he was headed. And then I did the wrong thing. I explained the whole picture to him as I understood it. I got to the end of the puzzle. I called on my armies to defend against its intrusion and protect all of the good things that had transpired between us.
And it was the wrong thing because oftentimes, getting to the end is not even the point. We play out our messiness and test our fortifications because we want to explore and learn in the process…see if we can trust. We want to see the movie, not just know how it ends. And in the fearful mastery that stopped me from going there with him, I created a wedge where there could have been intimacy (though not an irreparable one).
I see it in the dance studio as well. I can see what is wrong in any moment and can articulate it usually with pretty decent clarity. There are times when it seems that no matter how much I explain, certain dancers need to repeat the same problems several times. And when I’m trying to spin a grand idea with so many moving parts, that can be very frustrating. It’s easy to see this as an impasse. And sometimes it is, but sometimes it’s a call for me to be more present, present in a different way, to learn a very other thing that a particular dancer needs guidance towards. Sometimes I’ve missed that it is a dancer caring so very much that gets in their way…and they need the permission and space to play. Sticking to one path and not being allowed in with the mix of the difficulty can miss the point.
I cherish my drivenness that gets me to a goal. And I am grateful for my intuition. And in the infinite experience of life, I also am comforted by brokenness and being with the people I care for in a place of uncertainty.