Do you remember what it’s like to pretend? To willfully suspend disbelief and just completely drop in to another reality? When was the last time you let your imagination improvise and take you on a flight of fancy?

As grown-ups we tend to put that part of ourselves aside, and keep ourselves focused on the cares and concerns of the ‘real world’ that consistently grabs our attention. Some people think that fantasy serves no real purpose in everyday life and that letting our imagination run wild is something best left to kids.

But really, imagination and creativity are rapidly becoming the most essential of assets in the techno-centric future we’re creating. It’s no secret that soon we’ll be delegating almost all of the mundane tasks that used to be considered good careers to our friends the artificially intelligent robots, aka the machine. As it gets smarter, is it wise to try to compete with it or choose a path where it won’t soon tread?

As I write this I’m witnessing my 8-year-old daughter and her friend settle into their fourth straight hour of play with their Lego Friends sets. They re-name the characters, and re-create the structures to their liking, building and re-building the infinite variety of scenarios, totally absorbed into a world of their own.

Last night it was a book they decided to write together, obviously reflecting what they see me at work doing, asking me questions about: How do you write a book? What do you do first? Please explain the process!

We had a rather illuminating discussion of plot, character, detail, and storyline. The difference between first, second, and third person points of view. Do they need to create a pseudonym, and what the heck is that anyway? I explained the steps from first draft to published edition and how a novel becomes a screenplay and then a storyboard if it’s to become a movie.

One thing is becoming very clear to me as my girl approaches her 9th-year threshold, a major transition point according to the wisdom of Rudolf Steiner. My stubbornness about keeping her screen-free in her early years is paying off. She has total disdain for video games, and a multi-hour attention span for any of her creative projects. I’m so grateful that I’ve held space for her to experience the joy of being in the flow, and pray that it pays off for her as life goes on.

Allowing the auditory imagination to expand fully before crowding the consciousness with a barrage of imagery is the essence of what I call “analog parenting.” It doesn’t happen by remote control, but the willingness to read thousands of pages out loud over the course of a childhood is well worth the effort. So is the investment in a turntable for the home, which brings music to the foreground, encouraging a musical attention span of 20 minutes or more, (the average length of one side of an LP)

With digital, we are conditioned to an ever-shortening attention span. That’s why I consider digital music in the home of a child a precursor to ADHD. When we stream digital music, half of us skip to the next piece before the song ends, a quarter of us within the first 5 seconds. And since the algorithms are designed to give us more of what we already like, we’re less and less likely to seek out new genres and artists in the digital realm.

Last weeks article about the effects of audio compression on our emotional health brought several inquiries for tips on starter equipment for folks who want to bring vinyl into the home without going whole-hog into high-end audio or complicated component systems. I recommend the Crosley Nomad as a decent starter turntable, (that has the added advantage of easily traveling to your movement class), and the Edifier self-powered speakers as an affordable entree to analog.

So by keeping a clear channel open into your inner child’s capacity to pretend, and encourage the next generation to cultivate creativity rather than engorge on entertainment, you’ll be doing your part to maintain humanity’s intuitive edge in the world of tomorrow and guaranteeing yourself and our heirs enlivening livelihoods in the bargain.

It’s something to contemplate as we settle into solstice and the shortest (or longest for my Southern Hemisphere readers!) days of the year. Where are we running ourselves ragged simply trying to keep pace with an ever-more-efficient artificial intelligence, and how can we turn that to our advantage in order to empower ourselves with more quality creative time? What are the realms where the machine will always be at a disadvantage, and how can we increase our abilities there?

One thing is for sure, a computer can’t dance for us. Our body’s in motion are like a compass tapping us into our our creative source. For those of you who make your profession facilitating this in others, you are doing great work in the world.

Much love and Happy Holidays and Solstice Greetings too!


Mark Metz
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine

Dance First Member Spotlight:Movement Medicine at Madrona MindBody Institute

Dance First Member Spotlight

With New Year’s approaching it’s a great time to plan adventures, and also a good chance to lock in an early bird discount! So I’m happy to let you know about a sweet retreat happening at Madrona MindBody Institute in March that you’ll want to know about!

Movement Medicine’s founder Ya’Acov Darling-Khan is leading a 3-day workshop called Return of the Light that promises to be an epic entree into the practice and philosophy of this world-renowned modality.

Ya’Acov brings more than just movement to his teachings, he’s got a phenomenal background and story that is well worth a listen. We just completed the second part of an extensive interview on the Conscious Dancer podcast, visit my iTunes page to subscribe and listen to his amazing tales of shamanism and serendipity that have led him to his current stature.

He’s got a new book on Movement Medicine coming out as well, and he rarely makes appearances on this continent, so make plans for a trip to the green and gorgeous Northwest for a memorable experience with this dynamic master of movement.

We’re planning on making the trip and creating some special surprises while we’re there, so lock in your early bird rate before the end of the year, and we’ll see you in Port Townsend in March!

Return of the Light – Movement Medicine with Ya’Acov Darling-Khan
March 24-26, Madrona MindBody Institute, Port Townsend, WA