Pas de Don’t

Please forgive the Giant Stupid Whiny Rant to follow.

Yesterday, I had an absolutely lovely conversation with my therapist about trying to learn to sort of honor what I am, including the delicate-respiratory-system part.

Today, I’m just frustrated.

I feel like I make so much progress, then get sick and lose so much ground, and like this is an ongoing thing for me, and like the smart thing, the good-zen thing, the Good Mental Health thing to do would be to learn to accept and embrace that.

And then another part of me is all, “Ain’t got time for all that, I’m a dancer.  Dancers gotta dance.”

(The painful corollary: if I’m not dancing right now, do I cease to exist as a dancer?  What a freaking terrifying question.)

I have written, occasionally, about Making Dance Accessible.

I am forced, now, to admit that my own internal prejudices, or whatever, have left a potentially huge group of people out of that thought process — that is, people like me, who are talented and have been given bodies that look and in most ways act like classical dancers’ bodies but who are afflicted with chronic illnesses that make sustained training problematic.

Truth is, I don’t see a workaround for someone like me. Or, well, yes — here’s something. Short-term projects; an approach to training that recognizes that even the longest spell of good health will eventually be interrupted by illness. A willingness to be flexible about classes; to step it down a level when the body demands it.

I admit it: I don’t feel ready for the physical demands of Brienne’s class yet — and a part of me is angry about that; just furious that my body has failed me.

Another part understands that it doesn’t help to think of it that way; that this is just another wave in the ever-changing ocean. After the ecstacy, as it were, the laundry: after a stunningly-long period of quite good health, the pneumonia, the period of recovery.

And still it is painful, yet again, to run up against the limits of my being; to be reminded that I am working with mortal clay and all its host of flaws (though, on the flip-side, I remain grateful for the great gifts I have been given, and I recognize that if this is the price, or only part of the price, I have so been given an amazing bargain, here).

I also recognize that the day I accept these limitations will be the day they stop hurting me so often: I’m like a stubborn horse that doesn’t want to stay in its field, startled every time I run headlong into my fence*. The fence is always there; if I just accept that, I won’t crack my legs against it anymore.

For what it’s worth, I was thinking about backing out of the audition (haven’t felt up to extended rehearsals with Denis), but instead I think I’m just going to change horses midstream, maybe: channel all this into a dance, albeit indirectly.

It may not be a dance about all this; I have something else in mind, though something equally topical in its own way — it relates to my other ongoing struggle: how do I learn to live as the androgynous person that I am when, in a very real sense, I’m afraid to do that for reasons even I don’t understand? 

That, or else something about living with bipolar (perhaps unsurprisingly, that was my first idea anyway).

Either way? Cue Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.“

*This is actually a terrible analogy. With few exceptions, horses don’t do this kind of crap unless there’s a good reason to get out of the field in question. Will they bolt through an open gate just for a lark? Sure. When they bash themselves repeatedly against a fence for absolutely no reason, though?  Better check your pasture for locoweed (or scary plastic shopping bags — horses be cray).

About asher

Me in a nutshell: Standard uptight ballet boy. Trapeze junkie. Half-baked choreographer. Budding researcher. Transit cyclist. Terrible homemaker. Neuro-atypical. Fabulous. Married to a very patient man. Bachelor of Science in Psychology (2015). Proto-foodie, but lazy about it. Cat owner ... or, should I say, cat own-ee? ... dog lover. Equestrian.

Posted on 2015/10/01, in balllet, bipolar, health, life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Yeah, bipolar. Yeah, asthma. Yeah, a whole bunch of other autoimmune problems related to the HLA-B27 antigen that knock me on my arse from time to time. And yeah, a heck of a lot of behaviour that may not really be self-destructive but carries a pretty high risk of physical or emotional injury and medium to long term convalescence.

    So pretty much any and all long term projects and aspirations in my life – including relationships – get derailed at some point or another. Often catastrophically.

    So what to do?

    The obvious answer is to forget about long term aspirations. That sounds defeatist to the point of nihilism in our current social climate, but is it? No matter what your physical or psychological condition, no matter what your definition of success or self-assessment of achievement the fact is you’re dead in the end. That’s not so much depressing as liberating. Ultimately you have nothing to gain and nothing to lose.

    But what’s the antidote to death?
    Life. Obviously.
    And as long as you are alive you live in the now. Not yesterday before you got sick and not tomorrow when you might be a better dancer.

    So you don’t dance your guts out to be a better dancer tomorrow and you don’t not dance your guts out to avoid injury or aggravating an illness. You dance to dance. And you dance as hard as seems to be right at the time. Maybe you’ll be manic and that means dancing yourself into hospital – or worse. Maybe you’ll be depressed and that means not dancing at all. And as with dancing so with everything else. Especially love.

    Yep, we’re all dead in the end. But until the end arrives we face the music and dance. We live. That’s what gives death meaning yet renders it meaningless. Don’t live in your dreams. That’s just dreaming. Live here and now.

    Well, that’s my two cents worth anyhow.

    • I’ve been meaning to reply to this all week with something more intelligent than just, “Yes! This!”

      Cabrogal, the part where you wrote:

      “But what’s the antidote to death?
      Life. Obviously.”

      …That’s so very much what I needed to hear (or, well, read) right then. It was the reminder of what I’m trying to do, and why I’ve made so many decisions that a lot of people might consider a bit questionable.

      Thank you very, very much for that.

      This part, too, especially:
      “Don’t live in your dreams. That’s just dreaming. Live here and now.”

      That’s good Zen, right there 🙂 A good antidote to my bad Zen.

  2. I don’t have much to add here, at the moment, other than I struggle with a lot of these same things, and you are not alone. You probably already know that – but I forget more often than I’d like to admit, and your post means a lot to me.

    I think the thing I find most frustrating about having to live within physical limitations, especially when it affects work life, is having to do so in a world full of people so damn healthy they take it all for granted, and seem perplexed when I have to lay down boundaries regarding what I can or will do. I feel like the working world is run by people who don’t need sleep, and don’t have to go to doctor’s appointments, and have boundless energy all the time.

    I know that’s not actually true. And I remind myself constantly that *everyone* is struggling with *something*, and while they may not see my struggles, they almost definitely have theirs. And that it is what it is, and I try to find the balance between what I need to do for my sense of self, and what I need to do for my body.

    I love what cabrogal wrote above, too. I get tangled up in goals and plans, and thrive on forward momentum – but in the end, it still comes down to “what can I do today, and what do I want to do today?” Live now, savor everything you can. Yes.

    • “I think the thing I find most frustrating about having to live within physical limitations, especially when it affects work life, is having to do so in a world full of people so damn healthy they take it all for granted…”

      Like I said to Cabrogal, I’ve been waiting ’til I had a chance to sit down and really think about how to reply so I wouldn’t just write “Yes, this!”

      This is so spot-on, Akire! I struggle with this a lot because my Mom, who was the primary adult influence in my earlier life, is kind of a superhuman in this way. I think she’s been sick enough to stay in bed maybe three times in my entire life; she rarely even catches colds.

      Meanwhile, for me, if I’m sick enough to stay in bed only three times in one year, that’s a big deal.

      It seems hard for people who are consistently able-bodied (or able-minded, for that matter) to imagine what it’s like to be someone who intermittently breaks down; who constantly runs the risk of imploding if the boundaries around sleep and self-care aren’t vigilantly maintained.

      Like you, I don’t always remember that everyone carries some kind of burden (and, honestly, sometimes it’s hard to imagine what a given person’s burden could be … at least, until I get to know the someone in question better). It’s a good reminder, that; good to hear, also, that I’m not the only one who has to remind myself!

      In the end, “Live now, savor everything you can” is a brilliant way to encapsulate that essential idea. Somehow the idea of savoring experiences reminds me of their ephemeral nature — like, even this audition today was an experience worth savoring (even the chagrin of totally hosing up my own freaking choreography :D!), and whether or not anything comes of it is sort of irrelevant. It’s the doing; the being there, then, that mattered.

      • “It’s the doing; the being there, then, that mattered.” – YES!

        I saw a wonderful little animated short yesterday, but there was this sad part where one of the characters said something like, “the problem with the present is that it’s never appreciated until it’s the past.” I think this is often true. That’s why I think savoring everything is so important, even the difficult or awkward stuff. Because it’s still who we are, and in a very real sense, it’s all we ever have. Like loving the present in all it’s awkwardness is an important part of loving ourselves.

        Okay, that sounded really goofy.

        “It seems hard for people who are consistently able-bodied (or able-minded, for that matter) to imagine what it’s like to be someone who intermittently breaks down; who constantly runs the risk of imploding if the boundaries around sleep and self-care aren’t vigilantly maintained.” — That’s exactly it. I think part of what’s hard about this is that those folks tend to regard those of us who have to work hard to be functional like there’s something wrong with us. And what’s hard about *that* is that they’re kind-of right about that. So – how do we be who we are and do what we have to do to keep going in a way that is joyful and true to ourselves without feeling at least a little bit broken? How do we just accept what is and move forward with it? I feel like I get this right most of the time, but other times I fall down spectacularly.

        Right. Savor everything, even the harder stuff. That is an ideal I aspire to, but it’s very much a work in progress. 🙂

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