Ideas and constitutions about life are not born over night. We take the steps necessary to grow a quality life. We farm our ideas. Did I know that I was walking through the poetic chrysalis of my then idol in Goodson Yard, on The Goat Farm? That word was not in my vocabulary at the time, but she indicated that it was what I know now to be a place for harvesting honest and true expression in every way. A creative farm. Sometimes the truths rest within the parts that you do not know. Blind folded but in the right spot I guess. This is what it means to be planted. Searching for the deepest truth will mean that you won’t understand it at first. Even though I couldn’t see it at the time, transformation was already in process, but I still thought we were just dancing on a farm.
“The farmer tills the soil, waters, fertilizes, and weeds. The plant, mystically, does its own growing.” – Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life
As we walk through our new home of Portland, OR, I am comforted by familiarity and a more honest sense of self approval than I have ever known. Absolutely no need for competition or proving of any kind. The city happens with us, and we don’t have to change anything. The preconceived ideas about who you are make it impossible for the real you, the deepest of you, to come forward. The shadow side is not the end all. If you’re brave enough to get in the middle of it and face it, you will grow. Who stands out in front of buildings? Who hangs out in parking lots? Think about these people. The people who linger on the outside of places. On the outskirts of life, hiding from actually being anywhere. I was one of these people in every sense before now. I do not drink or do drugs anymore. I do not smoke cigarettes anymore. I’m looking out at what I imagined of Portland before now: a fountain of change and new ideas beyond my understanding. I am wrong. It’s even more than that. The right amount of warm and cold. Cosmos, boulders, wood and metal rolled together and hanging by waterfalls and coastlines. Water runs through it. Heart runs through it. This place is not air. It is more than that. It is real. It has skin and muscle. Portland is home and human evolved and balanced. It helps me remember that I was born and that I will die, and in this close and far away wonder, I am alive in a completely new way once again. I’m going to take ballet classes here in Portland. Unafraid.
Some of us only catch the vibration of others as they react: meaning the action is only surface deep. If everything actually has depth, surface depth must be hiding any real value from finding maturity. Drinking prevents maturity. In A.A. they used to say that you’re only as mature as the age you were before you started drinking. For me, the “end all, be all” approach to sobriety turned me away from finding true recovery, but there is a lot of truth in this statement. The mask of alcohol and substance abuse stunts true growth. Depth cannot flourish if it isn’t free to expand past the surface layer of our being. The surface mask will continue to absorb all of our momentum boiling from those deeper parts of ourselves.
Back when I was a full time dance instructor, I preached self expression to the extreme since I dealt with teenagers on a daily basis. This was always where my heart knew to go since I believed, and still believe, this to be a sink or swim section of the learning curve. It takes a village to get a teenager out of high school with the least amount of issues while helping them still find value, self reliance, and community.
WE MADE ART through movement based on the only one module I felt necessary: da Vinci’s Vitruvian man. Class would begin with “Okay breath in. Stretch out to the edges of your globe and find every stage in between.” It wasn’t enough for forever, but it was good enough for bun-heads and dancers who needed to get away from correction. I knew that Da Vinci knew, and that was enough for me. It was pretty much enough for everyone because when you say to a room of teens and adults, “da Vinci ! Find the energy lines as if you are standing inside of your own personal globe or hampster ball. Skate your fingertips along the circumference of your own personal snow globe. It only knows the limits of your body. Throw yourself out like a radiating tornado from all sides of yourself!” I watched a lot of Martha Graham and a million other dance gods, but I didn’t go to college for dance. It’s been a strange journey held up by an intense belief in a few very real ideals. It was hours and hours of studio time, and building my own resources because I had to figure out how to live with what was going on inside of me. It was beyond textbooks for me. Dancing and teaching became survival tools for a while.
“The gift cannot reach maturity until it is used in the service of a greater good.”
Teaching connects and heals others. For you, it might be something different. Stop trying to get ahead and save yourself. You will save yourself only by giving. Give others the bone, the break, or the tool that you didn’t have back when you needed it. There is more than enough to go around. Leave that amazing rockabilly dress that you’ll never wear for an amazing pinup themed girl to walk in and own it way it’s meant to be owned. Know yourself enough to be a whole person. For me, that begins with staying sober. We can heal the past by giving instead of taking. We can love in those places where we were left unloved. We can change the way others view themselves by changing how we view ourselves. Openly sharing your experience with the world can heal those who are still stuck in the worst of it. I believe in changing the face of recovery by showing it out in the open with a wave of others like me who believe that social proof of sobriety works. No longer on the outskirts of society. Showing others that this way of life is possible is another way of loving and healing on this earth for us. Basically, I love Portland. ❤