“We are loved way more by some of the people who have not contacted us in the last twelve or so months than we are loved by some of those who contact us every twelve or so days … or hours.“
~ Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Did you ever ‘run with the pack’? Or do you consider yourself to be more of a ‘lone wolf’? Does it ever feel like you’re just part of the herd?
We humans are social animals — it’s baked right into our DNA. While our days of hunting prey on the savannah are long past, our innate ability to work together and get things done in a group live on.
2020 will go down in history as the year we all learned how to cooperate and work together from a ’social distance’ and as the time when our various activities were put to the test.
Some things (like interminable business meetings) have proven to be nearly as effective, and when balanced with the headache of early hours, long commutes, or wearing pants, have come out on the positive side of the distance equation.
Other things (like dance or yoga classes) have called for a bit more adaptation on the part of both teachers and participants. Squeezing that in-person group energy through the tiny tubes of the internet runs counter to the solitary nature of a single shiny screen.
And then there are the activities that stubbornly remain square pegs in the round holes of our social sphere. Hands-on things like haircuts, massage, or dental work. Squeezing those things through the screen is simply a non-starter.
In every area of life, innovation is happening every day. If there’s one thing that’s a constant in the timeline of humanity, it’s our ability to adapt. We evolved on the shifting sands of a changing world that shows no signs of slowing down.
So buckle up, your ride on the Corona Coaster is far from over, especially if you’re reading this in one of the countries like the US where policy springs from populist politics rather from sound science. The Libertarian ideal of ‘every person for themself’ is being hung out to dry.
Countries that have successfully ‘Crushed the Curve’ are those whose leaders deferred to the experts and have populaces that pay more than just lip service to the ideal of the Common Good. Instead of grabbing the last life jacket, everyone takes an oar and rows.
Your part of the Common Good starts with your immediate circle of friends and family. The people you see or talk to every day. Care, kindness, and contribution all start at home and the trick to being selfless is to balance it with enough time for your own self-care.
If you look back across your years you’ll probably recognize a number of different ‘packs’ that you’ve run with. Social animal that you are it’s likely that you’ve moved in and out of various circles and made any number of strong connections along the way.
One of the easiest and most rewarding ways to warm your heart during these wild times is to reach out at random to old friends or family who haven’t heard from you in a long time. You’ve got the power to make someone’s day by simply tapping the screen on that device in your hand.
I’ve started making a practice of this lately and it’s really fun. It’s surprising just how busy and occupied one can be, even while locked down at home. If I lived alone it might be different, but I’ve got my darling dancer Isabelle here along with my kid and the critters.
Here’s how it works. Once or twice a week I’ll have occasion to drive somewhere. If I’m going to be in the car alone for more than a few minutes I’ll plug in my earbuds and open up the contacts on my phone. I slide my finger along the screen and see who pops up.
Blindsiding people at random with a phone call out of the blue might be seen as bad etiquette during normal times, but normal these times are not. If they pick up, the response is almost always surprise followed by an eagerness to catch up.
Almost every call will include the words “It’s good to hear your voice!” and that gets to the crux of the contribution. Your voice is a gift in someone else’s ears when you speak with kindness, curiosity, and compassion.
I’m old enough to remember the Yellow Pages and the ad that said “Let Your Fingers Do The Walking” Those are wise words for today’s day and age and easy advice to take. You don’t have to wait for Mercury to go retrograde to look up old friends, Covid-19 is the only excuse you need.
Your ability to contribute has nothing to do with your financial situation, your family obligations, or your time constraints. All it takes is a quick call. Ask yourself how it feels when you hear from someone whose only excuse is that “they were thinking of you.”
Good feelings never lose their value. There’s never too many. Even if you’re not feeling so great yourself at the moment, touching base with someone else is a sure-fire way to make you both feel better. You’ve got nothing to lose, and a lot to gain, so go ahead, pick up the phone.
Social connections are the glue that holds us together. Regardless of what kind of ‘social animal’ you are, make those connections a little stronger by being the one to reach out. You’ll be doing yourself, and your friend or family member a favor.
Making the most of every moment until next Monday,
Dance First Member Insight:Daria Halprin, co-founder of The Tamalpa Institute!
When the pandemic’s full force finally hit me, it became clear that life as we knew it was in the process of radical challenge and change. I took the necessary steps I could to sustain Tamalpa Institute and our teachers, moving three training programs out of studios and into the online world. As our international student and teacher network moved into the online world in an effort to stay connected, the strength and enduring desire of our members shocked me. They showed unparalleled dedication to their bodies, emotions, imagination, and sense of engaged community.
The power of movement, art, and desire for human connection is far greater than the overwhelming and frightening challenge we are currently facing. That is what is most needed at this time; if not together in physical person and group, then together/alone. We will connect by whatever means necessary — by whatever means possible. Our collective longing to express ourselves creatively, to have a meaningful way to express our emotions together, to move and be moved, has emerged as a shining light of hope and resilience out of this trauma. The shadow that is COVID-19 has revealed this truth.
It seems to me that the strength of change lies in the momentum created by multiple different collectives, each at work and acting on interrelated intentions while holding fundamental core values. In the field of expressive arts, our strength is in the pedagogy of our practices, in the heart and soul of art itself, and in our determination to make art accessible and available to everyone. Movement is a means of individual and community expression, of protest and healing.
When faced with what we don’t understand and can’t control, we tend to fall back on our reactive tendencies. We are limited in our ability and capacity to be with and work with instead of against discomfort. We are good at covering it up, distracting, denying it, believing it’s the fault of the other, bypassing it, minimizing it and romanticizing it. If there is a silver lining in the trauma of COVID-19, it will be in our facing of the collective shadow and in giving up our complacency, our comfort, our privilege to take the difficult action steps needed. We will have to address this discomfort at its core and pay attention to its symptoms.
These difficult action steps for change become possible when we hone our intention, when all of the circles of concerned, compassionate collectives work together for the common good. We are in a collective trauma now. When we are isolated; when our health is at risk; when we are separated from our friends, loved ones, and sense of safe environment and movement; when we are anxious about an uncertain present and future, the tendency to disconnect from our bodies intensifies. That’s what we have to integrate. The link between body, emotion and mental states is powerful. When those links become disrupted, as they are now, we lose our resilient life force.
Movement and dance are some of the best ways to reconnect and restore these essential links. We need activities and experiences—somatic, emotional, imaginative—to keep us resilient. The creative, uplifting, life-affirming, inspiring nature of art and somatic practices provides reconnection and resiliency. All the urgently needed social and environmental change we believe in will become the new reality. And along the way, I think a great triumph will be to persevere, keep moving forward, keep pursuing our dreams. Above all, we must hope and care for each other during this dark time.
Learn more about The Tamalpa Institute and their classes and trainings at www.Tamalpa.org