Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Third Day Back in Civilization (and email updates)

Although I officially returned from Dunya's blissful Dancemeditation Retreat on Thursday, June 24th, I officially count my return to the mundane world from Sunday because I took a brief weekend sojourn through the magical land of Jehan-world.

In spite of my foot injury, and in spite of the fact that I'd be gone right up until a few hours before opening night, Jehan asked me to dance in her spectacular Cirque Arabesque -- which was a vote of confidence I couldn't refuse.

My mission: Choreograph a routine with fellow amazonian dancer Jaklina (who, at 6'2" and size 8, and makes me look short and round) to complement six other numbers where 1 to 10 other dancers will be performing. This was a vote of confidence I could not refuse.

And somehow, through the use of video, internet and blind faith, we got it together for four amazing shows.

Now... about the Dancemeditation Retreat...

This was my third, for three years in a row ... in a nutshell, we dance for seven hours a day (four hours in the morning, and three in the evening) with a four-hour break.

During the break we rest, meditate, walk, swim, sometimes shop the local fare, maybe hit the internet (although we couldn't pick up a signal this year, and it was a pain to trudge up to the library for wireless).

And we eat -- all ultra-healthy, ultra-vegan, raw food.

Or we don't eat.

Often people will elect to fast, usually eating only watermelon. (Last year I made it through three watermelon fast days.)

But for a reason I never learned there was no watermelon this year, so fasters were confined to a diet of coconut water -- which turned out to be a lot less painlful than I'd imagined

In fact, the only pain was that I was missing all the tasty meals being served, so I only fasted for a day.

But I kind of enjoyed the fast, so I may buy a case of Zico at some point and fast a few days here and there during the summer (it's always better to fast during warmer weather).

The weirdest thing about the Retreat is how time bends, compresses and expands. Things that happened that morning seemed like ancient history; yet the days flew by.

Many times I wanted to blog, but didn't make it to the library.

So I've enabled email updates.

More on the Retreat later.

And my next post will be emailed.... :-)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Writer's Block

When I was in school I wrote a lot of poetry.

I used to joke that this was because I was lazy and a terrible typist (back in the days of manual typewriters... yes, really), so whenever a writing assignment came up where we could choose between a short story or a poem, I went for the poem.

But the truth is I really liked poetry. I liked its precision and economy -- and that if you wrote in rhyme and meter, you could get away with all kinds of bizarre constructions and multiple meanings.

Verse became my specialty and when I started churning out sonnets in the 11th grade, our English teacher made me a poetry editor of the school magazine -- a privilege usually reserved for seniors.

Throughout grade school's 12 years, teachers entered my stuff in citywide contests, and I often got some kind of prize or "mention" but I never thought of myself as a "poet" -- and I never wrote anything for my own pleasure.

When I got to college, I found I was unable to produce anything without being compelled by an assignment, so I signed up for an advanced poetry class -- and was rejected.

I confronted the professor; he felt the work in my portfolio was "glib." But he was impressed by my tenacity and let me in the class anyway.

But he was right... something had been lost, maybe to self-consciousness, insecurity, vanity. I knew I could impress with verse, so I relied on it, even when I didn't have to because it forced me to choose words carefully in a way that blank verse did not. (I believe I know the reason, psychologically, that this happened -- that that is a subject for another essay.)

So nearly everything I wrote in blank verse was unreadably bad and I didn't do well in the class, overall.

For a few years after college, I wrote maybe a half-dozen poems -- all sonnets -- usually dedicated to various friends.

But for the past 10 years I've written hardly anything.

One friend had a "poetry" birthday party a few years ago, so I wrote her a sonnet and recited it to the blank expressions of her DefJam-style poet pals.

And that was the end of that.

This past year I've told a few friends I'd "write a sonnet for them" but the well has felt dry, and even thinking about it made my brain hurt.

Last night, however, as I strained to will myself to sleep through a punishing headache, I found myself teeming with words about, of all things, writer's block.

Here is the result:

packed incomphrehsibly
pressing impatiently
against the fragile pinhole portal
of articulation.
Single spies emerge
The battalion must wait.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Soulful Living: Why Is Cultivating the Soul So Painful?

How interesting that you posted those particular Oliver lines; they have been my polaris since I first saw them in Jungian analyst James Hollis' excellent book Creating a Life 10 years ago.

Hollis offers the useful concept of "resonance" when differentiating between "soul" goals and "ego" goals, cautioning against imposing our will to create resonance.

He writes: " When something is of us, is for us, it sets off the tuning fork inside us... The resonance within us cannot be willed; it happens... But resonance is the surest guide to finding our own right path. It constitutes an inner guide amid the imposing images of the outer world and the constant traffic of the intrapsychic world."

A soul goal may, in fact, coincide with an ego goal (and one of my persistant personal problems has been resisting those soul goals which also happen to be ego goals... what can I say, ego goals scare me...), but very often they do not.

If we are attentive to our feeling sensibility, however, we may be more inclined towards soul goals -- although actually choosing them, especially in the face of resistance of those around us, requires tremendous strength

And in those cases, soul choices are painful; their awareness alone can cause conflict and despair. But once that awareness has been awakened, the path of the ego can be equally painful as we know its rewards will ultimately be unsatisfying.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost