The Balance Between Discipline and Freedom

Last year around this time, I made two decisions—one to continue with my art pilgrimage and focus on dance, the other to begin a tea pilgrimage with my girls.

As the year comes to a close, I know that I lost a little heart for dance once I had to stop taking ballet. I've done some reading, of course, including paging through Dance Magazine. I bought a book on visualizing, which was very helpful. It asked me to pretend I was a fountain or a light or a volcano or whatever, while I tried to live into a certain dance sequence.

This morning, doing some stretching, I remembered another bit of advice from that book: to imagine the direction and angle one is going in, at least a split second before making the move. It provides a surprising ease for the body, as it prepares the body for the actual moment. The opposite I'm sure you have felt. Maybe you go to reach for something on your bedside table, just as a reflection bounces off the mirror on the other side of the room. Your attention moves to the mirror, while your body reaches to the table. Ouch, now your neck has a sudden feeling of minor implosion. You need a little massage.

So it is good to stick with your direction, at least for a while.

The question is, do you want your whole life to be about reaching towards the bedside table? Maybe that is what you need for a while. A small movement in a small space, towards a familiar circle of scented lotions and hair bands, the picture of your daughter (or son), the lamp with the dangly pink crystals.

But maybe it is not.

Maybe you need your cotton pillow and the way it gives to the weight of your head and neck. Maybe you need the soft threads of your ivory sheets, and the shadows they make when you pull them over your shoulders and up over your hair. Or maybe you need something altogether different. The yard is calling from outside the door and down the red oak stairs.

It is good to stick with your direction, at least for a while. It provides an ease of emotional movement and makes you more effective in whatever you're reaching towards. Still, all it takes is a new moment of deciding... this, this is where I'm going now. Song instead of silence, the rosary instead of breath prayer, a journey into art instead of sitting with chickadees.

I am not sure where I will reach now that our tea pilgrimage and my year of dance is coming to a close. Maybe I will just pull my sheet up for a little while and dream before I move.

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Blogger Megan Willome said...

It all ebbs and flows like the seasons, doesn't it?

Thanks for the encouragement to enjoy my sheets and pillow. I'm having trouble recovering from a concussion.

Blogger Maureen said...

Reaching toward partly is about discovering what you can attain or achieve, partly about understanding your limits, partly about knowing yourself well enough to give yourself permission to stop moving and just be. Sometimes the reaching toward is realizing you're already there.

Anonymous kingfisher said...

I agree with Maureen that sometimes we have to give ourselves permission to stop moving and just be. Do we need to decide in advance on a year's pilgrimage? Sometimes it's good to think in advance about what movements we are going to make -- pysically, emotionally, and spiritually. But a lot of times life just demands that we move. Life may demand that we aren't able to be contemplatives in silence. Well, then let us somehow learn to be contemplatives even when we must be active. I pray that God will reveal himself to you fully, excitingly, boldly -- and it will be Him acting in/through/for you, not you thinking you must dance by yourself.


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