Soil Samples • 12 December 2009

Deluge continues. It’s fine. It’s pouring on the pyramidal skylights. A mad crow attacked one of those windows on the new moon last month, so a bit of the deluge is dropping on to the floor. Down at the Masonic Temple, where we’ll meet for dance and I’m worried there will be some departure ritual (dance people express fuckin’ everything), it’ll be damp and grey. I’m relieved.

Dance is all ponderous when there's a little weather. Rain gets in the way of the stimulus-response reflexes on the floor, slowing and quieting us down. At the end when I leave, we’ll let the weather take responsibility for setting the tone. Half these people make films and the other half are healers: they experience themselves as part of a mise-en-scene and don’t labor—like sociologists and ashtangis—under the illusion that they are little worlds unto themselves. If the rain holds, they’ll send me out easy. Still I’ll go in my black hooded coat and park near the exit. People project some heavy weirdness on to ones who leave – no need to overplay a part.

Honestly… I’ll miss that scene more than the others. Dance isn’t a discipline, like everything else in my life. It’s catharsis. And it’s completely absorbing, so that you forget the problem of existence without even trying. Which I why it’s boring to discuss.

But it occurs to me—as I consider some tocks on the hard, sloped Orange County beaches, where I’ll spend the day afternoon with college friends—that dance is what opens my body most. Not ashtanga – though that is where the measure is taken. There has been another layer of letting go the past year, along the whole length of the spine. There are god knows how many layers that asana cannot touch: dance just goes the next level deeper.

So does a trip to Mysore, even if that zone is on the surface nothing but summer camp for the rich and sinewy. And so does loss, some times. This has been such a loser of a year. The job market crushed last September and my career path thrown in to confusion. My adviser dying on his motorcycle in January. I started the year listening to this achingly beautiful record called The Letting Go, but then the world around me started playing the same thing more dramatically and I put the CD away.

Cleaned out my desk last night. Campus deserted at the close of finals week except for a few clutches of high-energy law students cramming in the coffee shop for a last exam. Dark, rainy, “cold.” So much the better. I ran across a to-do list from 2004, written in a tighter, more angular, more precise hand. Reminders of a note I had to write to my previous teacher (now a world away), a research meeting with my adviser (now an eternity away), oil change for a much younger car, a phone call to a friend who was about to exile herself deep in to the Vajrayana. There were two other lists from even earlier, but I didn’t read them since I was already all emotional.

That desk: it’s like a fault, exposing old layers of self. The lists are pure little soil samples. I don’t know why they make me cry. It’s just backward-looking fantasy, and always in to beautiful moments that meant nothing to me then. Probably, the tears are just for time. Primal. To do lists are this existential problem; throwing them out admits that existence passes.

I’m dead-set against forward-looking fantasy. I want live by intuition and—sorry—grace, rather than take life and form it to my will. So I don’t visualize what will be, and don’t layer my expectations with pictures and emotions. But… here I am absorbing right in to backwards-looking fantasy. I am a human, more sentimental than superego, yes; but it’s all the same stuff in terms of my organismic economy. Losing myself in to scripts and visualizations and sensory evocations, using that to fill my body with some emotion. Damn! This could make for a pretty hot fantasy life if I turned it in the other direction.

Or not. No need to make the torture double-sided. And dance, and this rain in the skylights and smoke from the fireplace, are more real than all of it. I will allow today’s good byes to be sweet.