"We do not place especial value on the possession of a virtue until we notice its total absence in our opponent."
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Do you operate from the inside out or the outside in? Where do you find your motivation and inspiration? Which one has the upper hand in your operating system, emotion or intellect?
Everyone has a different yardstick to measure themselves by, and one of the main indicators of fulfillment is the feeling that we are making progress, both on ourselves and in the world.
We do our best to cultivate a set of virtues that we are happy with and we do that by taking on a value system that serves our highest good. Sometimes the virtues are taken from what we think is expected of us, from our family as we grow up and our peers in Social circles once we are adults. Other virtues are self-referential, born from the internal wisdom we develop along the way.
All through our lives, we’re dancing between these two perspectives, the external and the internal. When it comes to measuring yourself and checking your progress, it’s much more healthy and uplifting to compare yourself now with who or what you were then, rather than using other people as your guide.
Allowing yourself to be inspired and motivated to become better and accomplish great things by noticing, appreciating, and acknowledging the feats of others is not the same as holding yourself up in judgment against someone else who surely had a different set of challenges, advantages, or talents than what you possess.
On the weekends I generally try to catch ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” on NPR for a good laugh, and later I happened to catch part of a talk by columnist David Brooks on the Ted Radio Hour . He was discussing virtues in the context of eulogy vs résumé: “The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that get mentioned in your eulogy, which are deeper: who are you in your depth, what is the nature of your relationships, are you bold, loving, dependable, consistent?”
He referenced a rabbi named Joseph Soloveitchik, who wrote an essay called “ The Lonely Man Of Faith” in 1965. He called the two sides of our nature Adam I and Adam II. “Adam I is the worldly, ambitious, external side of our nature. He wants to build, design, create companies, innovate. Adam II is the humble side of our nature. He wants not only to do good, but to be good, to live in a way internally that honors nature, creation, and our possibilities. Adam I wants to conquer the world. Adam II wants to hear a calling and obey the world. Adam I savors accomplishment. Adam II savors inner consistency and strength. Adam I asks how things work. Adam II asks why we’re here. Adam I’s motto is “success.” Adam II’s motto is “love, redemption and return.“
Soloveitchik framed it as two sides of ourselves in conflict, a perpetual war of self-confrontation. I prefer using the metaphor of a dance since life virtually requires us to balance this polarity and artfully step into either stance. Brooks, however, makes the observation that the two sides actually work by different logics.
“The external logic is an economic logic: input leads to output, risk leads to reward. The internal side of our nature is a moral logic and often an inverse logic. You have to give to receive. You have to surrender to something outside yourself to gain strength within yourself. You have to conquer the desire to get what you want. In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself.”
It’s obvious that our society favors the short-term transactional logic of Adam I. But it’s the path of mediocrity where the gap between your desired and actual self grows larger with time. The internal logic of Adam II is what it takes to commit to tasks that take more than a lifetime to complete. Brooks goes on to talk about character, and what it takes to build a solid Adam II. “Adam I is built by building on your strengths. Adam II is built by fighting your weaknesses.”
In other words, it’s not so much the happy times and peak experiences that build our character as much as the times that we’ve wrestled with our signature flaw at our lowest points and finally emerged triumphant. We’re not often taught how to recognize and confront our deepest flaws in order to build a eulogy-worthy character.
He quotes Reinhold Niebuhr to sum up the confrontation, (or dance as I prefer to see it): “ Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.”
The idea of values and virtues comes to mind for me also in light of having just seen the controversial film “Green Book ” at a local historic movie house on Saturday night, that won the Oscar for Best Picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday. Apparently, the dramatized narrative based upon a true story played somewhat loosely with the facts, so I’d rather zoom back and appreciate what I felt was the message in a work of fiction rather than dive into the details.
First off, tackling the racially-charged story of a sophisticated African-American pianist going on tour through the Deep South with a burly Italian-American bouncer from the Bronx as his driver in 1962 is going to push some buttons no matter how it’s presented. And while critics point out that it’s a White portrayal of the Black experience, I would also hope that it may have provided some insight into the experience of folks like me who had grown up in that era; baffled, shocked, and embarrassed by the racism that was baked into our own race and the culture of our country.
But taken as a larger myth of redemption, it is a tale of two people coming together with far different values and virtues who learn from one another and earn each other’s respect by facing challenges together. The characters bond and grow by opening up to and accepting the internal and external logic that they each in turn lack. It’s a positive message of understanding that is a microcosm of what one would hope larger social movements aim to achieve.
Popular culture has a way of affecting individual consciousness, and stories that display our moral logic in a good light are a breath of fresh air. Anything that models character building over more greed and mediocrity is fine by me. I went right out to Down Home Music in El Cerrito on Sunday afternoon and found a Don Shirley record to bring home as the icing on this week’s inspiration cake!
Much love till next week!
Dance First Member Spotlight :: Azul Founder Amara Pagano & Pier Paolo de Angelis - Your hosts for One Dance Tribe!
This week’s Dance First Member Spotlight shines on One Dance Tribe and the brilliant pioneers behind it, Amara Pagano and Pier Paolo de Angelis. Many of you are already well acquainted with Azul, the transformative movement modality founded by Amara, and if you’ve been paying attention to this newsletter for long or the conscious dance field in general, then you’re probably familiar with their signature destination gatherings, One Dance Tribe.
With a long and storied history of creating epic multi-modality retreats in both Hawaii and Europe, they are now bringing the magic directly to folks here in the USA with One Dance Tribe March 8 through 12th at the Garrison Institute in upstate New York.
One Dance Tribe is “a global conscious movement community” that curates a magical collection of master teachers weaving together their offerings as one. You’ll experience 5Rhythms, Soul Motion, Movement Medicine, and Azul moving together in a safe and stunning sanctuary.
Amara and Pier Paolo work hard to supplement the somatic movement practices with a vibrant array of complementary activities including morning meditation & yoga, Hawaiian spirituality & spirit of aloha, cutting edge healing services & integration sessions, plus an evening of live Hawaiian music.
The faculty of this edition of One Dance Tribe includes Soul Motion pioneer Vinn Arjuna Martí, 5Rhythms superstar Amber Ryan, Movement Medicine ambassador Christian de Sousa, Azul founder Amara Pagano herself, and Hawaiian spiritual leaders and emissaries of aloha Lei’ohu Ryder and Maydeen ‘Iao.
In addition to the somatic movement offerings, you’ll be treated to a dynamic range of integration and healing services including The Ambika Method with Jennifer Benetato, Transformational Bodywork by Robin Spiegel, Lomi Lomi Hawaiian Mana Massage with Lavenda Schaff, and Conscious Physiotherapy by Rose Gabriel.
You can learn much more about Amara Pagano and The Path of Azul at www.pathofazul.com. She offers a comprehensive “Azul Trilogy” training program as well as a robust travel schedule of workshops around the world. You can also get a taste of the Azul / One Dance Tribe experience every month anywhere in the world by joining in one of their online Guided Movement Sessions.
Make your plans to attend an Azul workshop or training or a One Dance Tribe gathering soon and learn more by visitingwww.onedancetribe.com!
One Dance Tribe NY
March 8-12, Garrison Institute, Garrison, NY
Azul Trilogy – Portals of Healing
Mar 15-20, Kisslegg, Germany
Azul Online Offering – Free Guided Movement Session
April 2, Online
Azul Workshop – Transforming Suffering to Joy
April 12-14, Rome, Italy
Azul Trilogy – Doorways to Love
April 19-24, Assisi, Italy
Azul Teacher Training – Module One Apprenticeship
April 26 – May 5, Assisi, Italy
Azul Workshop – Transforming Suffering to Joy
May 10-12, Munich, Germany
New Azul Retreat – Healing the Masculine and Feminine
May 31 – June 5, Assisi, Italy
Azul Online Offering – Free Guided Movement Session
June 4, Online
Azul Certified Teachers Retreat
June 6-9, Assisi, Italy
One Dance Tribe Europe
June 14-20, Kisslegg, Germany