I have been invited to write on the topic of The Feminine for an anthology. Such an enormous prompt will take its own time; meanwhile I let the theme make its presence felt in whatever other writing I take up. The following piece has come from a solitude at Ravenrock. I didn’t plan to learn what I am learning but think now, in reflection, that the experience is far more powerful than anything I could have theorized and designed.
I’m in a time machine. I read Virginia Wolf’s essays, written hundred years ago, as if they are written now while living in a place without electricity or running water that could’ve been typical in a rural setting a century ago. Only the occasional highflying 747, a propane refrigerator, and a phone where teensy weensy heads of state underscored by terse headlines break the spell. The refrigerator is in a shed in the meadow; sometimes I forget to go to the fridge. Sometimes I forget to look at the phone. Sometimes I forget which current events I’m in. That, it turns out, though I didn’t plan it, is my great experiment—reversing time. Read more
The cycle of light and dark means we are turning as Earth—a dervish—faces the sun then the wide cosmos. The salubrity in light and dark is a matter of degree; bright light and blinding light, soft dark and blinded dark. Dusk. Closed eyes. Sleep. Hiding. Beneath a crust of autumn leaves tiny shoots grow. In shadowed places are freedom, gestation, peace, recovery, quiet, liberation, respite. Read more
Dancemeditation is to the Body what dreaming is to the Mind.
I would hate to never dream…I love to wake and wonder where I’ve been, grasping at dim air, fading figures amused at my futile attempts to catch their tail. I love the improbability of making sense of their portentous magic that flattens and dulls as I note it in my journal or recount it to a friend. Lost is the weave of one place tucked into another, actions looped and looped, tunnels of dense color, haunting fragments, timelines crossed. Dreams come while we lie still, our bodies suspended in sleep while our minds journey far and wide. What if the reverse happened? Read more
In case you are meeting me for the first time, I tend to write about my Dancemeditation practice and Path—what comes up, what happens inside me, why I resist, etc. At the moment, it’s about how to survive in troubled times with a little help…
Surviving in Troubled Times
I’ve always loved sheepskins. They are some sort of perfect. For the past few years I have depended on them at Ravenrock which has no thermostat. When temperatures abruptly drop, I stoke the wood stove and curl up on my cozy sheepskin. This winter I am on Cape Cod—cold, damp bone-chill. I bought a quarto (four sheepskins sewn together) to do my practice. Read more
This past New Year’s Eve—my first New Year’s Eve on the Earth without parents—I decided that I needed above all else to do a Sufi Dancemeditation session to set my course. I could have rented a studio locally or in Boston, but a sweep of intuition pushed me to offer it in Woods Hole in the house I inherited from my parents. What would that require? This house needed to fit who I have been becoming all my life and am continue to become. It needed to become my beautiful Home Studio. Read more
A storm grumbles in the distance, plodding slowly across the canyon from behind the mountains. A wood pewee sings over and over and over again a clear plangent descending note. Sitting in the Ravenrock Barn, I grieve both parents. Until now, I haven’t had time, energy, or distance to grieve, my hip surgeries coming so soon after my father’s death. (My mother, still alive at an Assisted Living, seems permanently away at college, living in a dorm, having a happy life with not only no thoughts of me but no thoughts at all.) Here, where nothing but a few inherited rugs and pieces of china are associated with my past, I can look as one gazes at a valley from a summit, no longer seeing it from within in myopic fragments.
Here is an excerpt from notes during my April trip to Ravenrock — a turning point away from the past two years of overwhelming crisis and toward a new period. One thing that changed in a quiet yet dramatic fashion was my deepening feelings toward Ric.
As the wind on the porch is too cold for sitting out, I tuck into the Croft’s window seat for tea. I remember two years ago. I was alone in the Rim Cabin. My alone-ness overwhelmed me. Now I am weaker, less capable, and intimate with helplessness which should make the rigors of Ravenrock fearful, but I burble with joy. I acknowledge the dangers. I acknowledge my frailty. Then I gaze out at the dancing Bowers and heart happiness subsumes me. Almost — I say this hesitantly — being anywhere but on an adventure is a waste of my remaining life.
My round, fibrous-fatty-blood-coated* heel bone meets the gritty bottom first, then my step rolls fluidly along the footsole, smooth as frosting under the soft press of a spatula. The sole expands as I move through the step, but very little because I am in water up to my chest and weigh almost nothing to my legs. Read more
We Are the Way We Move
I feel so odd. THR surgery has brutalized the soft tissue in and around my hip sockets’ joint capsules. During the first stages of healing, pelvic and femur bones fuse to titanium and ceramic implants, meanwhile the soft tissue must scar tightly so the prosthetic joint won’t dislocate. My physical therapy protocol of strengthening without stretching—the latter would be dangerous for me—feels strange. My inner voice repeats and repeats: Bulk muscles around the bones, compact, tough, to guard and brace. At least for now, while deep inside layers are still fragile. Let them knit and bind. Build a barrier wall. A barricade. I draw into a geological centrality, the way gravity makes the Earth’s crust adhere to the iron planetary core. My limbs and head pour toward my spine as planets cleave to the sun. Read more
Many dancers use bulimia as a solution to getting and staying thin, but I have never been able to stomach it. In fact, I refused even the occasional necessary illness purge. Through a recent Ayahuasca journey in Brazil, I got from that fear and loathing to gratefully accepting my body’s grace.
I am in an airless anteroom, under fluorescent light, with two hundred people, all wearing white, crowded close. Anticipation mingled with anxiety, nervousness, glee swell the murmuring. Some bring memories of previous journeys. Others have never had this experience, though experienced or not, everyone acknowledges that expectation is a hindrance. Read more