Two Weeks Without Class: Life Moves
First, let me state for the record, yet again, that not dancing drives me crazy.
Doubtless, the element of structure it adds to my time is critical, as is the element of physical exhaustion — but I think that, more than anything, I need the ritual and the communion. I need to check my mind at the door and do the steps. I need the order of barre and the challenge of the floor. I need to be not simply a dancer alone, working out his private salvation in turns and trembling, but a dancer among dancers. We are not solitary birds.
Second, an interesting thing has been happening in my life. The last year has made me less afraid to reveal myself — to others, but also to myself. I’ve learned to reflect on my own condition (in both the general and specific senses) in a new way. I’ve learned also to think more clearly about how my actions affect people around me, particularly those I love.
In some ways, this makes life harder. I begin to see the difficulty I present as a friend, with my abrupt flourishes of vigor and my equally abrupt retreats into solitude. I begin to see, also, the challenge I will face as long as I live; the tightrope-walk that is bipolar, with its precarious drops. I begin to see that to bolt forward without considering that in my plans is a fool’s errand.
In other ways, it makes my life better. Because something has shifted (Adderall, maybe?) in such a way that I can sometimes think about my thinking, I can begin to plan a life in which the room I must grant my illness is part of the design. Likewise, I can begin to step out on the ledge of public creativity again.
I have begun, once again, to believe in my vision and my voice.
Oddly enough, some of that has happened in the studio.
In real life, I have trouble with feelings — I can’t tell them apart very well, nor can I put them into words as readily as most people.
But I can dance them.
When I know the steps; when I no longer need to struggle to remember whether the next thing is pas de valse or balancé, I am suddenly able to summon feeling from the depths of my soul with trembling intensity. I am suddenly able to be transported; to let the music carry my heart and let my body follow it.
I used to be afraid of my own emotions (sometimes I still am: the crazy ones, in particular). Now, though, I’ve learned to manage them, like one manages a powerful horse, and I’m no longer afraid to turn and look at them.
At least, not most of the time.
It is true that I’m still afraid to look the out-of-control parts in the eye: the glittering mania ready to snatch the bit in its teeth and drag me out into the freezing void of space; the lightless depression, with its great liquid eyes, equally ready to drag me with it “down to a sunless sea.”
But the real feelings — pain and grief and fear, but also love and hope and joy — which I’ve kept at bay for so long… Those feelings I can now entertain; examine; hold in my hands. At least sometimes, for a while.
This is the work I am doing; the most critical work — in my therapist’s office, of course, but also in the studio and also alone, in my living room, with Holst’s The Planets whispering and shivering and surging from the speakers of Denis’ stereo system.
Little by little, I’m plumbing and charting the depths of my soul, filling in spots on the map that used to read, “Here be dragons.”
Life moves, and finally I’ve started to feel as if I’m moving with it.
This is a gift, a change, born from many seeds — but not least ballet, and the obedience of this body, which at last has begun to learn to belong to this soul.