Sometimes, moving your body at the slowest and most deliberate pace possible elicits remarkable awakenings and realizations. It makes you notice the subtlest shifts in weight, the quietest puffs of breath, the deeply etched moments of life.
Like in our Body Poetry group today. Only two of us showed up, U and I – which was a blessing because we’d been displaced from the spaciousness of the yoga room to the much smaller ‘circle’ room (with no circles in sight). We improvised in time and space, noticing touch and rhythm, memory and motion.
The exercise that had the most impact on me was one called Speakers’ Corner. The first ‘act’ required us to silently seek out a spot in the room where we would position ourselves. Then, we were both instructed to re-enact – through mime and motion – a personal memory. Whether trivial or significant, the memory had to be illustrated using only our arms. Otherwise, our directions were to stand perfectly still, staring straight ahead, with no hint of facial expression – in true mime-style.
At the outset, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to convey. But when I closed my eyes, I instinctively knew that I would be riding a bicycle. And so, I opened my eyes, stared ahead and, with outstretched arms, I clutched the handlebars that I imagined were right in front of me.
It was a bumpy ride. The bike rode along smoothly for awhile, then I started to shake my hands up and down as if I’d ridden onto a rough gravelly road. I swerved, slowed down, signaled to turn, clanged the little bell, and then… a sudden lunge forward, I let go of the handlebars, flung my arms deliberately – but ever so slowly – into the air, and froze in that position for many minutes…
Blackness. A thud. My hands covered my eyes. Then they fell to my sides. They shook. Fell silent. Done. I was done. But still, I felt my insides shaking. Where had I gone, with my body, with my limbs, my memory? So far. To another world. Another country. And yet, it felt so very very up close.
What do we do with memories such as these, the ones that are stored so profoundly and inexorably, in the vaults of our lives?