Monday, March 31, 2008

"all you need

is a new idea" said the dancer/choreographer twyla tharp.

ah, if only it were that easy. we can be enlightened by a cup of coffee and it won't survive the day. waking from a fantastic dream, we feel we've the world by the tail. by the time we get out of bed, the sky look gray and bare.

a new idea! yes, of course. yet it must grab us, motivate us, obsess our thoughts and drive our feet. unfortunately, our heads are already full of categories, circles, childhood, money, houses, cars, cares, children, work, history, the news. there is simply no room for anything else.

we tend to live in the closed system of ourselves. stumbling and groping, we grasp at whatever works and hold onto it for dear life. how can we escape the safe but inhibiting patterns we've built up to support the edifice we've created?

i've mentioned a cup of coffee. of course, there are other drugs: pot, prozac, or more desperately, heroin and sleeping pills. whatever breaks the circle of our judgements, for in not accepting others we do not accept ourselves.

how often do we come out of a movie, a play, or rise from reading a novel, to feel we've broken free, entered another's way of being, of looking, of acting and reacting? for an hour, even two, we see the world with love's eyes, everything possible, everything new. (the charm of youth.) and gradually the bright sun sets.

as many of the wise have said, we have to get out of our own way. and this may be as simple as saying yes where we've said no, walking down a new street, confronting a bully. the desire to do things differently has to grow huge, or be thrust upon us.

in solitary confinement, the black panther george jackson invented and practiced his own form of yoga. then there was the fellow imprisoned in a box during the american civil war. to pass the time he invented the repeating rifle. war and famine, earthquakes and fire, marriage and divorce, children and death, how do we submit to a boot-camp by choice?

in a recent book on work the therapist thomas moore uses the example of following your own daimon, the little voice inside which gives us a sense of direction. in 'how to get control of your time and your life' by alan lakein the author submits that fifteen minutes of planning early in the day may be worth more than all the good intentions in the world. (he also says, '80% of the results come from the first 20% of effort.' and other good things.)

every answer is personal. usually i avoid going back to places where i've had a pleasant experience. living in the same town for years on end, this isn't always possible. a week ago i returned to table mountain, a local pilgrimage site for spring flowers. i'd last gone five years ago. here is the first record: the first view seems easy and fresh. especially in conversation with a friend. the second time i was alone and it was easter. something darker and more brooding entered into the pictures.

same place. new idea. for a moment there was room for it.