We awoke this morning, to 2021 and one word landed powerfully beside us. The variations poured out as if breaking through a dam:
These waters tumbled forth, resonating with the sound of images, thoughts, text and memories, adding to the rush:
“What are you working on?”
“Stop worrying where you’re going…move on.”
“6 letters. 2 words. Easy to say, hard to explain, harder to do…Move On.”
“The best things happen while you dance.”
A father’s encouragement…”You don’t think you’ve got anything left…but you do!”
One tiny step forward is still forward.
We had called it a night far later than we had intended, certainly far later than any New Year’s Eve in recent memory. We had waited to connect with our children via Zoom and imagined we would play a couple of games, share a New Year’s toast, wish all well and say goodnight…and then without warning, we moved into the zone…Being awash with the laughter that is the soundtrack of our family feels like only one thing to us…creative flow. And in that space, time is lost and the only thing that matters is what moves between us. Having seen in midnight in Saskatchewan and midnight in Alberta, we found ourselves hearing the nocturnal celebrations of the last midnight through the screen in BC…the third set of fireworks in three hours, exploding into light right overhead of their apartment, stirred a toddler to wake. And at some point in the hour that followed, we had our full family back on the screen, the music turned up and we danced! The first full out family Zoom dance party of 2021.
And here we are at the start of a new year… emerging from a space where we were slowed to idle to stall to hold to wait, we now make the choice to shift our gears to move…a little or large step…a mighty or mild movement.
To learn, we must move.
To grow, we must move.
To love, we must move.
To feel, we must move.
To live fully, gracefully and healthfully, we must move.
We don’t have to move mountains…at least not every day.
We choose to dance into 2021, as the act of dancing is to live in a manner that invites response…when we dance in the flow and know that everyone on the floor is moving along to a beat…it feels as effortless as being itself. That is movement that moves us.
So often it seems that the commitments we make as NYE Resolutions, come from a place of auto correct, righting a wrong, shifting a practice or banishing a behaviour…each one justifiable. We acknowledge that all we need to embrace as we move into this new year is the commitment to movement itself.
What will we move? How will we move? Where will we move?
The questions matter, but not as much as the verb itself…MOVE.
Greg and Tami, January 1, 2021
"We do it in the crib, at the airport, at the graduation ceremony, in hospice. At every stage of life, and in umpteen circumstances, we find ourselves waiting. Waiting is common to all ethnicities, all social and economic conditions. Even in our hyper-efficient age, when we are taught that every moment should be filled with the productivity of doing, we wait. At every turn, the flow of our lives is interrupted by forces outside our control. But these periods of suspended time are far from empty; what happens within them reveals and shapes us. Waiting may feel like pain or pleasure, may bring us agonizing apprehension or joyful expectancy or both. It may last for a brief but intense moment, or stretch out over lifetimes. We may wait alone, or collectively. In some languages, the word for waiting is also the word for hope.”
Rona Altrows & Julie Sedivy, Waiting: An Anthology of Essays, 2018
I am a middle child…
I have never been comfortable waiting…
It’s the stillness, I think
Oh…and the silence
To wait, one needs to make peace with stillness and silence.
And to do so demands that we learn to recognize the movement in the stillness and the wise words and sounds that are offered from within the silence.
I recently found myself as client in a coaching conversation, sharing the sensation of feeling stuck in the middle…having put into place all kinds of decisions and actions in order to propel me forward to a future I imagined, longed for and felt ready to begin…and yet, I was struggling. Struggling with my own lack of patience. The future wasn’t coming fast enough! What I wished for, I couldn’t make happen on my schedule, according to my desired timeline. It all left me feeling unsettled...and a bit grumpy.
My mother loves to tell the story of the boy who ate every lunch with one foot tucked under the other leg, in order that he (I) might be able to bolt back to the playground the instant the meal was declared over. The punch line of her story was that every lunch ended with spilled milk from the glass knocked over by my hasty exit.
As I explored this feeling of being held back, the image that dropped in was that of being stuck in a waiting room … a space between. Not necessarily a place we find much comfort being ‘left’ in.
After all, what is a waiting room? Think of your doctor’s office (if you choose your dentist, add an aquarium). Waiting rooms always seem to me to be blandly neutral…perhaps to avoid heightening the anxiety of those waiting. Music plays just out of earshot (in stark contrast to the ‘hold’ recording that played when you called in to make the appointment to come and wait. The television in my own clinic rarely plays anything but the slow motion imagery that appears in screen saver mode, and although remarkably vivid, never seems quite real. The spaces in-between, born of the imaginations of artists fare no better. Jean Paul Sartre’s classic waiting room turned out to be a metaphoric holding tank for the hell that ‘is other people’; one without exit. Finding themselves in the ‘blandly neutral’ landscape of Samuel Beckett’s imagining, Didi and Gogo, can neither do do, nor go go anywhere! Act 1 closes word for word as Act 2 will. (and then Act 1 the next night, followed by Act 2…and so on…)
Vladimir: Well? Shall we go?
Estragon: Yes, let’s go.
(They do not move.)
(Waiting for Godot, S. Beckett)
Let’s be honest. We only ever find ourselves in waiting rooms with one objective … to get beyond and into the next room where the action will happen…the conversation leading to clarity of what’s next. The deal, the diagnosis or the determination of what is to be done...“in the room where it happens!” But until we are in that other room, we are left waiting and for me at least, it has always felt like in this room, nothing happens.
Back in the coaching conversation, the coach invited me to explore this feeling of waiting…of my relationship with impatience. She asked me what one step I might take to get myself closer to the future I envisioned. She asked me what was most important for me to do in order to feel successful or a sense of accomplishment. She asked me what might this process and my being in this space of waiting, be trying to teach me.
And then, when she must have sensed my insistence on remaining stuck in the middle, she asked me one more question: If there was an arrow, in this waiting room you find yourself in, what would that arrow be pointing you towards? This one stopped me, as the best of questions always do; especially those that are wrapped in metaphor. I couldn’t find a quick response. I took a breath and ironically, waited. As I searched for the arrow, all I could see was myself. In my visual representation of the room, it dawned on me that I was standing…who stands in a waiting room? So I imagined myself sitting down before resuming my search for the arrow meant to give me direction. This simple act slowed me down and released some of my tension. As the lens of my imagination sharpened, I saw that I had some semblance of control. To begin, I might choose a more comfortable chair for this room; more comfortable than any one had considered important in any actual waiting room. A comfortable chair in an uncomfortable room in a room of unknowing, lessoned the discomfort. Another breath and again I looked to the arrow for direction.
This shift had begun with one of those simple coaching questions, that resulted in a physical and emotional alteration…my shoulders dropped back, my jaw loosened and in doing so, yet another breath dropped in slowly. My eyes now focused on that middle distance where new thoughts are born; a liminal waiting room. I realized that in my need to always be in motion, I had failed to be present to what was here to awaiting discovery…here, before my name was called to move on to the next…here where the arrow was in fact, pointing at me. This was the clarity and as so often happens in great conversations, it was offered up with no strings attached.
It has left me wondering in this moment, and across the world, how many of us are feeling stuck in the middle? Whether our global reality has led to deep personal loss and increased anxiety or provided space for new energy to emerge from a place of reflection, re-connection and re-direction, is there anyone not feeling done with the waiting?! How might we be allowing our feelings of impatience or frustration to blind us to what we are intended to deepen in our understanding; an act, which may only ever occur here in this place of between what we know and what we are learning. How might we be sure to stay alert for the arrows that are pointing us towards something much more important and deeply instructive…in this waiting space? What are we being invited to learn?
For years, I introduced theatre students to Samuel Beckett’s absurdist classic as “the play where nothing happens…twice.” And now I find myself questioning that. How might our relationship with waiting change if we see in Beckett’s clowns a deep wisdom? What if Godot is their arrow? What if, in their saying ‘yes, let’s go’, and then in their choosing not to move, we see their wisdom in the waiting? What are we waiting to discover when we find and follow the direction of our arrows?
One of our favorite prompts is captured in the three words we chose to title this page … And What Else… There is almost always something else, and yet so often we move on before we give it voice. It is our intention to offer this space for reflection, and invite your voice to inspire others to consider ‘what else’. Perspectives provide pause and invite our growth as individuals and as community. We hope you will drop in as often as you wish, to join this and other conversations and share with us your what else.
Since March, when the world pushed the pause button, we imagine that many of you found your relationship to time changing. Perhaps, like us, you came to feel in that time, inspired to reflect…re-direct and reconnect. We are curious how the shifts that you made to adjust became gifts that you have come to deeply value. Close friends of ours were commenting, how this time we were given seems to have inspired newly embraced simplicity for so many. Our most natural human resources of imagination and creativity have come out to play in ways that, had we not been slowed down, might not have been as pronounced. As another said, “our hands have gotten busy” as have our heads and hearts. For certain, in the absence of access to performance and gallery venues, art and artists have been in process…and look out world when the curtains go up again…And yet those who do not necessarily identify as artists, have also been at their most naturally creative.
In the memory of these past 5 months, we, like so many others, huddled together at home in conversations that had time to drive deeply into who we be. Somewhere within this time, we were inspired by a short film that our son, Braydon created as a part of The Citadel Theatre’s Stuck-In-The-House series, he titled The Time We Were Given Time. For us, it resonated as a gentle meditation on the reality of our times. So powerfully moved, Greg found himself responding a few days later through poetry.
In the spirit of …And What Else… we invite you to join in the conversation. We offer you these two pieces in the hope that you will share your own responses to how this time we have all been given has shifted and shaped you and your community. Both were created almost two months ago now. Whether you are viewing Braydon’s video again or for the first time and as you read the poem, we invite you to share your own perspectives from this moment.
You may do so as simply as adding a COMMENT below.
If you would like to offer more than a comment… writing, images, music, video, questions… we encourage you to visit our Facebook page, where we welcome you to respond or upload.
We look forward to the creative engagement and inspiration that your participation will offer. Feel free to engage with the ideas that emerge once or many times and extend the circle by sharing this post to your own communities.
Tami and Greg
The Time We Were Given Time
We respectfully acknowledge the Coast Salish People on whose traditional unceded territory we live, work and play and the Snaw-Na-Was and Qualicum people whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day. We honour the long history of the Indigenous peoples of this land reaching beyond colonization. We are grateful for the opportunity to share, listen, learn and create on this territory.