Q: What's up with all these weird window-pictures, looking at your reflection? Isn't that weird, for someone who's all about embodiment, these days?
A: Yes! Super-weird. Thanks, Ice King, for being the voice of quality control around here, even if, blessedly, I now mostly live well beyond your reach. Truth is, when I'm actually doing Inner Beauty with the Lady Lawyers & Law Recruiters; or giving & receiving blessings outside the Livermore Public Library, I don't want to break away into the observer-instinct that would put me outside the experience, taking pictures. It's only later, getting off BART in Oakland, noticing the beautiful ways people veil their windows, that I remember: I have a camera. I am in a new city. I can see myself through these spirals. And later still, propped up on a shaky table enjoying my newfound passion for Starbucks wifi, I can write about it.
One of the themes that's come up a lot lately is taking up space, meaning:
I'm going in for another 5 Rhythms gathering this evening - in Oakland. Something about the challenge of staying open and present with others while dancing is sitting beautifully with me right now. Why should dancing with other people be hard? Well, lots of reasons. From the 10th grade dance comes the fear of rejection. From the 6th grade sock-hop comes the creepy memory of a lecherous teacher noticing me & saying so. From the 8th grade social dancing class comes the awkwardness of stumbling through the foxtrot with some also-shy kid 12 inches shorter than me, who is somehow, penis oblige, destined to lead. And from the nightclubs of this life comes the disastrous equation that a woman enjoying herself on the dance floor is definitely asking for sexual attention, and a smile is as good as a guaranteed fuck.
So I've learned to dance in a force field that says: You can see me, but do not come near me. I am aware of you, but I am not going to look at you. Keep your distance. This is my space and time to dance, by myself, on my terms. All fine and good, but also a bit lonely. Taking up space means taking up shared space. I don't have to cut myself off from the pleasure of engaging with others. I don't have to worry about feeling like I owe anybody any more or any less of my attention than is precisely desirable to me, moment by moment by moment. I can dance, and I can listen sensitively, in and out, through all the patterns of the dance, Amen.
Julie Püttgen is an artist, expressive arts therapist, and meditation teacher.