THE C WORD

After a much needed holiday to Ireland, one of which I was completely unprepared for, and can only be described as the indescribably unexpected. Take that how you will, I’m still processing. It was all the things, a bond that went from student teacher to close friends, to watching the sun come up with a sassy Irishman, to staying up for 30 hrs. from travel delays, and finding closure in an old place. The time away gave me the space to review and go over all the material in my head, material I thought I knew. My plans. I was planning on writing about “all or nothing” seems simple enough,  eh? But sometimes the more you revisit something, the more you discover in it’s cracks. How necessarily cryptic...repetition. The time I spent on trains, planes, automobiles, in pubs, and in the quiet comfort of constant rain was enough to see…my only consistency is my inconsistency, it is all or it is nothing.

I’m not talking about being a flaky ass artist, who’s all about this one day or nothing about that the next, hopping back and forth on the tail end of the next fad parade claiming they support “this” cause or being invested in “that” work because it increased their x amount of unknown followers, and now they’re really “into” photography because they got the new iPhone…nope. I probably should, but you don’t want to read what I have to write about that. I’m speaking to a more controversial word, one that has more permanence, and one that either sits well with you or scares the bloody hell out of you (all or nothing.)

Commitment.

Ahh I can’t even commit to writing about commitment, the ironyyyyyyyy.

Commitment is hard, maybe even the hardest thing we’ll ever do. Choosing one thing, one path, one place, let alone dare I say one person? The older I get the more I struggle with this misshapen idea, and shouldn’t it be the complete reverse? 

I guess I have issues with the c word, actually both of the c words, but commitment takes the cake. At least with where I’m at right now and with what I’m doing right now, and how my last attempt at jumping off the commitment cliff left me injured questioning my own ability to choose wisely for myself. It’s kept me in a stage of doubt, marking everything I do. Where I try all the things, spend three months here, two months there, work this week, on holiday the next week. Convincing myself that it is giving me experience, giving me options, keeping the door open for whatever comes my way. I thought it was giving me all the things, and on some level it was, even distraction. The thing with this lifestyle is it’s unsustainable. Most dancers can relate to this so called “struggle”, going from here to there makes it hard not to fall into such an adventurous rut, yes I just said adventurous rut. Sounds so rough I know. What I’m saying is that it isn’t as glamorous as it looks, or it is, but it makes you feel stuck in the in between, like you’re going in circles never moving forward. Mark Manson calls this sneaky little bitch, “the paradox of choice”...oh and it is.

As much as I don’t want to admit this I will...all these multiple experiences were so short-lived, and they taught me that with minimal commitment comes minimal growth. Woof. 

I feel bad for all the people in the world who won’t give into their own wrongs to find their real right. No matter how scary or short-lived they are, you find some truth. The real truth, and here is mine….what if what you choose is never enough? Or even worse, what if it is and it doesn’t choose you back? I’ve been on both sides of this mess and it aches. There is so much scarcity, control, and fear in those questions…meaning we only want to fully commit to certainty, forgetting there is no such thing. Which is why dance is still my greatest teacher. 

My only true commitment strangely enough happens to be the first commitment I ever made, dance. Shocker! We’ve been going steady for about 27 years, and we’ve had problems for about 27 years. Ha! It is something special, it has taught me how to love what I hate, and hate what I love all in the same. It’s my longest and most significant relationship, and that won’t ever change. As much as I would enjoy listing off the endless reasons of how overly committed dancers are, and how our makeup gives us a rarity that teaches us to be full out and loyal in all dimensions of our lives, it’s not about us “dancers”. It’s about dance. Dance demands commitment, dancers aren’t just committed. Dance pulls the commitment out of the most flighty, wavering, lost artists around. It is the connection with this medium that has taught me what real commitment is and should be.

When I look at my relationship with dance, I see soooooooo many things. I was attracted to it because it excited me and scared me all at once; it gave me the possibility of being more myself than I thought was ever allowed. Freedom. That freedom can be more than you want to know about yourself, or more than you are ready for. Dance only gives you what you put into it, hence why I compare it to any relationship. No such thing as half-assing the steps; it shows you your limitations as much as it shows you your advances. Its humbling, supportive, and at times a painful environment that forces you to see that you will have to work for it everyday, all the daysss. And that your work will eventually pay off in the long run, but that there is no stopping point of this long run. Pretty shitty, huh.

It holds me accountable and doesn’t let me get away with a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. It forces me to be the complete opposite of myself, PATIENT. It breaks me down and opens me up with a gritty sense of vulnerability, that some how gives me strength after the major beat downs of blood, sweat, and tears from trying.The more I resist it, the more I struggle, and the more I struggle, the more my precious little ego squirms, and eventually I’ve learned to just give in and let go. Trust. It’s one vicious cycle, ah, but a beautiful one. 

It’s how I would describe an ideal relationship, with anything or anyone.  

I have been fully committed to dance, and completely uncommitted while being committed to dance. I’ve left it, gone back to it, questioned it, worshiped it, cheated on it, been disappointed by it, mad at it, overwhelmed by it, bored with it, and madly in love with it. But…I’ve always stuck by it. It’s messy, confusing, and completely brilliant. It has a part of me that no one else does or ever could. It’s imperfect and ongoing that is why it works. The kicker of all is this is, I would of never known of all these possibilities with dance without the time I spent “committing” over and over, and over again. 

Lovely. I have no idea how my noncommittal post became so committal, but I think the point is that we all want to commit to something deep down, we just don’t know what, or we are afraid, or for most dancers, we don’t want to settle. I don’t just want anything…I want a beautiful mess of vulnerable intention, in all things. But if I never commit to something, I’m never going to find it. Which means it’s a choice, maybe even all or nothing. 

 Written July 2017