Like most children, I was deeply intuitive. I had an inner knowing about my career as a dancer, for example, and other little things. I never talked about this knowing with anyone. With other children, it was unneccessary, and with adults, futile, because one of the things I knew was that they wouldn’t get it. Knowing what number the carnival roulette wheel would stop on may have been unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but knowing that I knew was another matter entirely. At least to me.
Though I could not speak the inner voice with words, I could through movement. Movement could express the essence of the knowing, of being, of one’s own truth, even though I could not have articulated that at the time. While this form of expression won me attention in the studio, my stunted verbal communication left me frustrated in other ways. I did not yet have the language to translate what I felt on the inside to others on the outside. I doubted that anyone would be interested anyway, or that anyone would let me do what I wanted to do. I became used to being dismissed by adults and stopped trying to talk to them. I found adults to generally be a bunch of rainers-on-the-paraders. I learned to tip-toe, to sneak around in order to have my way, but I often got caught and punished. My once accepting, confident nature turned rebellious and confused. As I matured, insecurity masqueraded as aloofness. I became more and more afraid.
Dancing, once an outlet for my truth, became distorted. I looked to it to make me happy, make me whole again, but that was like making it into a container that it was never meant to fill. It was only ever a way to express my already-happiness, not a means to an end. When it failed to deliver, I forced my will upon it with a vengeance, doing harm to myself and others. I set high goals: this role, this promotion, more, more, more. Through a tremendous act of will, I got what I wanted, only to realize with dismay that I still wasn’t happy.
Of course, the process wasn’t as clear cut as all that. In spite of myself, there were fleeting moments of grace and joy. When I looked back on those moments, I realized that surrender, not will, played the bigger role.
When I say surrender, I don’t necessarily mean being passive. Sometimes surrendering to the demands of the moment required great effort. But whether passive or active, in those moments of joy, I surrendered to flow, an act that always required faith. When will was aligned with faith, or another way to say this is that when the intellect was in service to the heart, I was filled with the joy of remembering who I was beyond my fear and confusion.
I once asked a teacher of mine, Ken Ludden, how I could surrender to this flow all the time. He said that he didn’t think we were meant to exist in flow all the time, for that would negate the need for faith. To grow spiritually, which is to grow in faith, is what we are all here for (in case you were wondering). Hey, that works for me.
I was greatly soothed by that response. It took the pressure off, the constant pressure to be or do something else, the pressure to achieve something in order to be happy.
Even if I can’t be there all the time, I try to cultivate it in myself and my students, many of whom are in the throes of their own rebellion. When you get right down to it, the application of will without flow just makes someone a royal pain in the ass. Besides, you can’t really dance without it. Or truly live.
I watch my new little puppy, Chulo, run and play. He is a happy love machine, and apparently, an enlightened master, because he has never forgotten that to play is the way. The process is its own reward.
I contacted Ken to get his approval about using what he said in this post. This is his response:
So good to hear from you. I read what you wrote and it seems fine to me. My only
hesitation is in the definition of what being in the flow is. Where it means making
no decisions, taking only re-active measures, then there is no faith, for one is
simply responding. But stepping out of that reactionary mode and becoming active is
what tests faith, for we must act on what we believe is right, rather than on what
is required. But as it reads, if they read the whole thing you’ve written I believe
they will understand it exactly.