Getting caught up in devastation and timid retreat is a way to avoid facing your own potential. Fear of failure, trembling and shortness of breath take up space where the full expansion of the creative life-force might otherwise dwell. The point of stillness where art emerges is a birth right. Each of us is capable of finding it if we’re willing to put aside all that is untrue. Clinging to falsity is to indulge in the fearfulness of the ego– where we walk away from divine manifestation and ourselves.
The evaluation of achievements and criticism can serve as an opportunity to choose between the thief of creativity or invigorating advancement. Nerves and blackouts, stage-fright and neglect of spiritual routine are excuses. I choose peace. I hear the sound of crashing waves and delicate harmonies instead of the rushing of blood to my brain. I choose to surrender the illusion of control that incessant worry gives us. We can face it all and let our true selves free. Let the child dancing in dress-up clothes and the thrill of a blank piece of paper and new colors remind you.
Who am I? I am not this fear. I do not succumb to a belief in inferiority. I am honest and pure expression. I am tangible energy and stunning craft-work. I am love in its infinite states. I refuse to withdraw or be restrained by any insignificant, demeaning thought-form.
It is gently raining and there is music- the somber ringing of a piano. A candle burns and I am alone with myself. There are rose petals, crystals and images of chiffon. I invite the scene to inhabit my space and coax my mind into a state of present awareness. I can summon beauty from my fingertips and the grace of aesthetic movement. Moving. Breath. Alive. Love. God is in creation. God creates. God is creation. Creation is of God. Love is a catalyst and passion the spark. Beats of a rhythm and the sequined stage lights of the starry sky are the clues to salvation. We are here as divine artists with a lifetime of material.
There is sadness and sometimes the heart ruptures at the sight of illusory death. It breaks open and re-tunes its reverberant strings. How it hurts and how empty it feels, this freeing of space- this destructive force of new beginnings. The shame of admitting the relief in letting go and the reluctance to feel joy in the midst of pleasurable stabs remind us of our inherent darkness. The deepest colors and grayest longings have their place. Tears and loss give us dimension and fill our ecstasy with mystery.
I am blessed with existence and a cup full of discovery and ambition. Even the years spent in despair are rich with introspective pauses and illuminating imagery. We are equipped with the gift of the body when the mind is too preoccupied to connect. We have fingers and silky hair. We have the breath to sing and eyes to peer into other souls. We have closeness and touch. We have embrace. All of these lead us back to love, back to ourselves, back to God. We must care for our bodies and hold our hearts sacred as a shrine to the purity and innocence ironically reflected in the depths of fallen grace.
Treat your art as you would a child, spared from fear and condemnation. Treat your heart as a treasure to behold. Free yourself from the weakness of shame and doubt. Inhabit the space of this life and be moved and ignited. Falling prey to illusion is a malady cured by connection with each other and the freedom of artistic creation.
Creation happens at the meeting between two souls, the border, the shoreline, the cliff at the edge of the abyss. It happens on the line where innocence descends into a dark, stony hole and that which lies at the bottom is purely uncertain. I have long sought a true merging, a coming together of mentor and muse, heart and lust. It is my deepest longing and sorely neglected need.
I stare deeply into Chopin’s portrait while feeling his music pulse through my aura. Gentle, spirited hands, manifested inspiration and a face lined with passionate knowledge gazes through me. It is the music made physical I seek; the merging of unfettered passion and vibrating harmony. The portrait, come alive.
All that I have to give remains bound inside the limitation of my own flesh. I feel the crude prison bars of the boundary between self and other. I embrace them and urge them to bend at will with incantations and unwavering faith. It is my spirit, lured ahead and the will to triumph that provides the impulse to continue.
I am lost in sex without alchemy and ill-returned passion. I stand alone afterward, bewildered and empty. The stage is the only refuge for feminine fulfillment. It is only there that body and soul intertwine and the prince eternally reveres his princess. Tears are nothing without function; a dancer lives through other means of expression. The loss of idyllic illusion drives her to reconcile the frivolous futility of music when withheld from barren physical reality. It is here she rediscovers her passion. How she longs to give more than a soulless exchange of lifeless matter!
Discipline replaces dreams; resignation replaces love. I tread on with a relentless striving for transcendence. How do I release desire for all that I am–the dream of someone willing to take my hand, dissolve and live for starry discoveries and unbridled human expansion? How many times must I sell myself to artless vulgarities? There is no frequency compatible with the ‘Song of Myself.’ It is lost in space-time, a sacrificial relic of romantic literature. The yearning to love is an affliction handled with ridicule and shame. Until it springs forth from yellowed pages, infused with life, shall I suffer.
Stage fright and fears of inferiority annihilated my princess soul. I was born a ballerina and never questioned my place at the barre as a little girl. It was such an integral part of my being that I hardly noticed when it slipped away. I assumed it always would be. I realized some time ago it had been 20 years since I’d been to a ballet class. It didn’t seem real! Ever since then I’ve been keeping a regular practice at home as a supplement to my main engagement of Irish dance. Yesterday as I was feeling the ecstasy of a classical barre workout, something inside me broke free. I felt a sob come from deep within my solar plexus and clutch at my heart. I finished the routine but later began to contemplate this strange, spontaneous fountain of grief.
I’ve never believed I belong anywhere. Everything is for everyone else, but not for me. I repeatedly feel a subconscious obligation to retreat from all that I love. It is a form of deep-seated shame that has held me in its grip since before high school. I feel ashamed to exist and participate. It is a pathological refusal to succeed. Instead of claiming a place in the world, I keep the idea alive in my soul and exile my body. The ballet movements stirred bodily memories of my innocence in pink, satin pointe shoes. They physically reminded me of a time when I belonged and felt my future was mine for the taking. Now I find myself suddenly in my 30s at the tail end of a ten year depressive fog. Everyday is a struggle to convince myself I deserve to be seen and take part anywhere with anyone.
The combination of classical piano music, wearing ballet slippers and the familiar, natural movement gave way to years and years worth of pulsating grief. I am an artist. I am a musician. I feel at home on the stage and anywhere artistic transcendence abounds. Why did I retreat? Why didn’t anyone help me? Where were my teachers? Why couldn’t I help myself? Am I ghost? Why do I feel so lost?
I intend to keep my ballet practice as a form of spiritual meditation. I will treat it as a daily devotional practice of finding myself again. I want to rediscover the childhood innocence that validates the princess and her art. My body will change and feel that it, too belongs. My mind will change and believe that it belongs together with my body and all of its capabilities. Quitting ballet was a form of disembodiment and dissolution of soulful unity. I can only look forward to discovering what a daily, disciplined practice will transform and bring into my life–my life as a dancer.
So many evenings spent in the studio toiling and sweating in hyper-focused concentration; falling into bed exhausted only to ceaselessly repeat the steps in your mind. Being there so often, you begin to take the friendships, laughs and struggles for granted. The music circles your bed in the air and you awaken only to continue training in anticipation.
The day arrives and the vanity table becomes a palace of glittering glamor. Rhinestones and diamond dust, vibrant color and fluttering lashes are worn as a testament to the endless hours you spent striving to embody the beauty of the art form. The final blissful moment comes when it’s time to slip into your costume– artistic embodiment.
Everyone seems different–excited, on edge and exhilarated. When the music begins you feel the stage under your feet and it’s as if a new world has burst into existence. The fabrics glisten in the light and you look out into an endless sea of cheerful, eager faces. At the last beat you feel full of pure, invigorated bliss. You took every bit of effort and care and created a beautiful, living gallery of movement. When the show is over there are hugs, smiles, even tears.
It’s this particular moment of dissolution that creeps in amidst the adrenaline rush so many of us endure. Suddenly you realize there will be no extra practice the following day. There won’t be anymore rehearsals or anticipation. The camaraderie that came into being ceases to exist the moment you leave the performance hall. You no longer belong on-stage or with anyone else.
This is the evening that I’ve learned to dread over the years; this is post-performance depression. I’ve tried to drown it in celebrations and activity. Speaking to those who have never spent long hours enveloped in the art of perfection feels lifeless. Evening sobs burst forth from the heart and you put your hands on your chest to keep it from leaking out onto the floor. A physiological reaction and tips to deal all dart forth from articles intended to soothe the woeful artist. How can anyone possibly understand? The only consolation is the promise of loftier and more exalted attainment. The creative instinct is a revered and irreplaceable affliction.
While moving, twisting and stretching in front of a mirror, something ancient began glistening on her skin. Her dance awakened in her a soreness and longing for something dutifully forsaken. No longer swallowed, given-up or extracted, it began colonizing her movements and burrowing through the fragile layers of deception she wore to maintain sanity. The angelic farce stepped aside in reverence of a deity who dwells in starry night skies and expensive sheets. Something writhing within her insatiable belly displaced every last drop of the guilty plague: the essential unmet need.
She is not cruel, no. She is humbled and overcome, yet free. She bows before passion at liberty and makes legends of every embrace. The confusing glance in the mirror and clinical introspection, diagnosed and dissected, begins to smile. All sickness is a choice and excuse for retreat. What if she chooses to emerge? What if she claims her right to life? Will the scaffolding fall away and the walls crumble?
She is both ends of the cursed dichotomy intertwined. It’s both frightening and exhilarating, scoffing at the scorn and accepting the rightful inheritance of a feminine being. She asserts a secret joy in the delicate art of corruption and the need for adulation. Yes, she demands to feel indispensable, devastating and radiant. She loves with a sense of destruction that satisfies her with recompense for the life stifled in her upbringing. Might devastation be the birthplace of innocence? The place where an invincible and glimmering pearl remains and emerges from beneath the rubble of a battered shell?
Faced with the raging absurdity of repression, the gate must either open or remain closed forever. Will she accept the constellations of her birth? Can she indulge in truth?