My parents were adventurers. For example, in the mid nineteen hundreds they successfully completed a two week canoe trip in Quetico Park in Ontario that included many portages - with a wood slat canoe, a 9'x9' canvas tent and tinned food! When I was growing up our family spent the summers on adventures such as backpacking trips into the mountains, bike touring trips of the Gulf Islands, and sailing trips into Desolation sound.
As elders, my parent's world has become very small with my mom in a full-time care facility and my dad on his own in our childhood home. Many hours of their day are spent resting and napping and their waking hours are often filled with the pain of failing bodies.
Several of my senior yoga students have shared the expression with me : "growing old isn't for sissies." As an adult child watching my parent's health and motivation for living decline I am witnessing this in a very personal way. There is such a feeling of helplessness in that no matter what I say or do nothing can take away their symptoms of physical pain or mental decline.
It breaks my heart when dad refuses to join me on a simple outing to a local park because he doesn't have the energy or the interest, especially when he was once such an avid outdoor enthusiast. And so, this morning, as he was sleeping, I took from the front hall closet one of his hats and his scarf and drove to a park we frequented as children.
"An old man talks to the wind young men sail kites in. All my advise is worthless." Sam Hamill
Not knowing what prompted me to take these items with me, I just knew I must and when I got to the beach my initial intention was to empty myself and let the dance bubble forth from the inside.
On arriving at the park, what struck me initially was a large hole created in the seawall barricade that had been eroded from the high tide waves. It was an invitation to emerge from the earth, to be birthed from the earth. What I found interesting in viewing the film afterwards is how the space looked like a giant puzzle piece and that my 'emerging' looked instead as though I had been dropped from the sky and the hole was the 'crater' that had been left from my fall from above...
I realize how this is much like butoh practice in that one needs to 'drop in' to the body, into the experience, into the the presence of now in order to 'emerge' in an expression of dance.
In the second part of the dance I could feel my father's presence and imagined him to be there sitting beside me on the log, looking out towards the sea that we spend many hours sailing upon. I imagined that he was wearing the hat and scarf and that my dance was allowing him to see and hear and experience all of what I was experiencing. I miss your presence in places like this, dad.
I also felt very connected to the element air at this point- to the spaciousness above and the temperature on my skin as it was very cold and lightly snowing. The external temperature felt like it was reflecting my inner feeling tone.
Today's dance is dedicated to my parents and to all the elders - with so much gratitude and respect for the bravery required by the aged ones to face life's challenges when the body and mind are breaking down, and when the enthusiasm for life is waning. And yet, when the body is failing, how incredible, what seems to be the often indomitable spirit of spirit to maintain the life of a withered body, in order to maintain 'life.' I am in awe of the courage it must take to be so close to facing the last great adventure of your lives... into the mystery...
I wonder about
that is surely up there
in starry space
and how some part of me
will go there at last.
But I am talking now
of the way the body speaks,
and the wind, that keeps saying,
a little while and then this body
will be stone; then
it will be water; then
it will be air.
Thank you for reading and viewing this blog. I appreciate any comments you may have as it gives you a voice that I love to hear...
See my butoh mentor's inspiring blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill