marginfades

The joy of movement. Words. Food & memory.

Food for Thought and Wanderlust

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I’m in transit today, after a much-needed weekend away from home, visiting good friends.  As much as I have come to love where I live (much like Jane Friedman loves her adopted home town of Cincinnati, Ohio), there are days and weeks when I’m just done with it, and feel the need to escape.

 

   road trip by breahn

The friend I visited this weekend has stated there’s a naturally occurring bacteria in our gut that secretes a substance that gives us itchy feet, the yearning to seek far-flung places and novel experiences.  Really, it’s just about nutritional deficiencies and the bacteria’s attempt to get more of whatever it needs by pushing us out of our usual milieu.

Bacterium or not, I am refreshed from my weekend away.  The compelling parts of Friedman’s ode to Ohio’s foremost up-and-coming cultural center are dancing around in my mind today:

It’s a peculiar disease for us Americans, to think it a failure not to move away from what we know. As a twentysomething, I wanted nothing more than to live in Europe—where I’d stayed 6 months during a study abroad—and to be done with the uncultured and ignorant USA.

It’s like all young people to think this way—to imagine that the place where we come from is stupid and beneath everything else. Eventually you realize that all places are rather the same. Or, people are the same. You just find the right circles where you can be accepted or make a difference. The rest is just details.

It took a long time to accept that I’m a Midwesterner at heart. I want to be friendly and helpful. I’m not eager to talk about myself. I prefer a laid-back, unpretentious lifestyle. While these are not qualities unique to the Midwest, I don’t reliably encounter those environments elsewhere.

Emphases mine.

Written by marginfades

May 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Renewal (III)

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In the form of dance that I have the privilege to learn, there’s a philosophy of tension and release: various aspects of the body move in opposition to others – and yet there’s no discord in the display.

Rather, there’s the relief of overall unison: the body gliding as a whole across the bhoomi – not to mention a continual movement of those parts of the body, occupying the same space for a mere millisecond.

You might see it if you’re lucky, sitting in the audience, and choose to define it as a pause.  It’s not as important for you to see it (and if there’s too much of one…well, it shouldn’t really be there.  It’s meant to be elusive.)  It’s more important to feel it, as a dancer – and continually, not just in a moment of a routine or performance.

This state of being only comes with enough practice – studied deliberation – such that the body flows through its routine, without the brain minding it constantly.  With the body engaged, the mind’s free to make connections and associate, soar through a day’s worth of experiences, examine them, and release them.  This deconstruction continues far after the physicality of practice distracts the body and frees the mind.   There’s a depth of sleep borne of the body’s exhaustion that allows fragments of memory, flitting images, and snippets of conversation to piece together and remain if necessary, and dissipate if not.

When I awaken, after such a practice, I’m replete – and in spite of the harried day that follows, littered with the steely reflection of cars and concrete highways, the taste of bitter coffee, numbers and spreadsheets blurring together, I discover that I’m anxious to return to the floor, warm up and push through a practice, beginning with my personal warm-ups, a set of exercises, and steps both square and sinuous.  After my body’s already humming with exertion, I push it to sing, push out the day’s dross.  If I do this often and well enough, you may see the results.  I can only practice, and hope.

Source: substation.org via Margin on Pinterest

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May 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm

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Renewal (II)

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The idea of slowing down the pace of life is hardly novel: there’s entire industries devoted to explaining to you how their product or service will truly give you the space and time to relax.  Vacations, massages, and cable television usually promise us a measure of peace – and yet we come home needing a vacation from our vacation, or unable to have calmed our mind during a massage, and exhausted from watching yet another marathon of a syndicated television series rather than anything that truly engages our interest, from a myriad channels.

What I found unusual in that brief moment in which we see the lady in repose in her friend’s old apartment is not its fiction and improbability (for that’s what it is: just a scene from a movie, with an actress whose best emotion is a projection of serenity).

I think of the possibilities that scene evokes.  Does the dream vacation have to be an exhaustive tour of a place’s most famous landmarks, with people I do not know to like?  What if it were simply a stretch of days in a place that nurtures and inspires me, instead?  (Must it be a pricey all-inclusive? )  If the idea of a stranger’s impersonal, practiced touch heightens my anxiety rather than releasing calm within me, is it what I need?  And is the oblivion induced by hours of an endless television series sooth me, really?  Music does: wordless, mellifluous.  (If I really want dialogue and action, I’ll choose it – with friends, in person.)

Elements of entertainment pervade each of these activities, though – and that implies a certain threshold of engagement on my end.  I can’t passively sit there and enjoy; I must research, and understand, and pick apart a nuance until every element is dissected and exposed.

This is important to know: what brings relaxation to most only keeps me primed, at full attention, to absorb and evaluate.  I remain in a constant state of tension.  I must pursue relief – and paradoxically, my path to it is studied deliberation.

_______________________

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May 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Renewal (I)

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reading chair by eflon

There is a moment at the conclusion of a recent Hollywood Blockbuster in which a supporting character (one of four close friends) is shown alone and in repose in her newlywed friend’s old apartment.  Unused for months – nevertheless, the apartment remains in readiness, with updated furnishings, for another occupant.

The character is shown as relaxed, seated comfortably, idly thumbing through a magazine – and you get the idea that she’s taking a quiet day to herself, away from her daily routine.  The movie and its franchise make much of these four friends sharing adventures, laughter and sorrows – out and about, enjoying their lives, social and seen.

And yet: there’s that rare moment of the movie, magnifying their individual needs, particularly one’s need for rejuvenation born of quiet, and solitude.

***

The scene reminds of my uncle: he checked himself into a hotel for a few days one summer.  Right there, in his very own neighborhood.  If he was anything short of honorable and a gentleman, the close-knit community he and his family live in would have buzzed with gossip (a tryst?  a mistress?).  Quite to the contrary, the staff welcomed him with nods of anticipation, in full view of the public, ushered him straight to the pool, handed him a stack of newspapers and a frivolous drink, and left him to his reflections.

The extended family was accustomed to his business travel, and assumed he was out of town – but imagine his favorite nephew’s surprise in attending a breakfast business meeting at the same hotel and finding his uncle relaxing, poolside.  “I can’t get away from business at home – technology is the devil, and a leash.  At work, I can’t help but think of which of the kids is having a birthday (or is it my wife’s?), or the next time we’re going to dinner with friends (do I like them, or not?  Will I have to pretend a business call, to get away?).  And at home again…it’s not like the kids are noisy, or the TV’s blaring.  It’s just hot, and I just want some peace,” he said simply.

The neighborhoods gossips didn’t even blink an eye.  This habit of my uncle’s was old news, and not very exciting at that.

He got the idea from reading of gentlemen of another era and culture spending the mornings reading newspapers and networking at their clubs, he told me, a twinkle in his eye.  He regrets giving up that particular hotel – his nephew and his friends frequent the place now that they “discovered” it, and he really wants no company except his own.  “I really liked that pool – something about the way it’s shaded.  I can enjoy the warmth without the sun beating down on me,” he shared wistfully.

Selfish?  There were those in the family and community who certainly made it clear they thought so – the expense!  the intimation of scandal!  such an odd habit, and if only unusual, a bad one!  what will people say (if they knew)!

But “people” already knew – and my uncle always came home smiling and refreshed, having missed his family, to a wife and children who were happy to see him, having missed him in turn.

No one could say much about that – except that they were a good, happy family.  The wife was lovely, the children happy.  And they always seemed so relaxed.

Window Seat by Judy Harrow

Inspired by that instant of solitude I glimpsed in the last moments of that movie, I’ve thought about turning a spare space in my house into a refuge.  I predict that if I actually went in and closed the door to that room, the household denizens (four-legged) would be pawing at the door within minutes, wanting in – and the solitary one (two-legged) would suddenly decide that my company was preferable to whichever puzzle or video game had held his interest for eons before.

I already have the elements for this refuge – they simply want arranging: a bookcase with my favorite reads, and a writing desk, and a money plant.  A shrine paying homage to all my inspirations, starting with the wideeyed inspirations for my movements, and various odds and ends that remind me of the complexity experienced out of simplicity and quiet.  Some bamboo shading with a silk swag to evoke the tropical climate best suited to my genetics, a window seat for the cat, a cushion for the dog.  Should someone choose to join me, a comfortable sofa that might do equally well for reading – and for dalliance.

(origin unknown)

____________________________

 

Written by marginfades

May 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm

“What The Body Remembers”

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One step, another – then a few steps together.

I learn to walk, anew.

The body did not remember this habit of movement, one foot in front of another.  There was no intermediate crawling, this time.  Dancing was hardly a distant memory: trapped inside, it had no outlet in a body that hardly understood that it could walk, once.

***

I had learned with such joy, such amazement that I could with a flick of a wrist and a tilt of my head, match a lilt of music with expressive eyes.  If the audience thought I was heading stage left, I was really moving stage right.  Push…and create tension – let go and pull…and it doesn’t end, this movement.  It keeps on going, push, pull, tension, relief – and they watch, mesmerized – and their wonder invokes Someone.

Such is the sacred trust created between an audience and an artist: follow me, trust me…and I’ll lead you a true way.

Forget an appreciative audience; true adulation comes from a guide, a guru: the satisfaction of another step learned, better executed than during the last round of instruction.  “Toe, step, brush…(hold)…step, toe, step and position.

And again, and again.  And once more, and again.  And repeat.  And practice, and step…until it flows.

by Vicknes Waran

The mind takes over, at some elusive point in the repetition, and it’s no longer a mechanically delivered from my body, but emerges quietly from within.

A saunter and a skip, a beguiling sashay: I walk once more, my arms swing free, no longer crutched in desperation. I sense that the dance is ready to emerge once more, and after another measure of patience, I can do it: a small series from no particular piece, just more and more complex sequences gilt with just a glimmer of grace, even less nuance.  It is all that I can muster – for now.  But it is, indeed, dancing.

Without thinking of it, my body has bent at just the right moment, just after the step, to create tension and to release – while my eyes slide and carry the audience’s attention away from where they want to take it, and right where they must take themselves.

______________________________________________________________________

Inspired by a Scintilla 2012 prompt and Shauna Singh Baldwin’s novel.

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May 2, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Posted in Margins Fade

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Why “Margin Fades”?

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The End of the Rainbow

Says Wikipedia:  “In telecommunication, the term fade margin (fading margin) has a couple of meanings, including ‘a(n)allowancefor the purpose of ensuring that the required qualityis maintained.'”

 

Whereas Alfred, Lord Tennyson, says:

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink 
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d 
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those 
That loved me, and alone… 

…always roaming with a hungry heart 
Much have I seen and known; cities of men 
…I am a part of all that I have met; 
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’ 
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades 
For ever and forever when I move

 

Both a bounded and unlimited space.  I embrace you into it, this space that is limitless with possibility and surrounded by safety.  

Welcome. Join me as I make strong my will, “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

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May 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm

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Sita (or, “Solar Systemic Failure”)

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Blue Moon

This time, I eclipsed you.
You are the scion, true.
So what?
In my own, new system – you don’t exist. Irrelevant.
I still shine, without my own light.  I have my own Source.
At least people can look at me in my full glory.
(You never gave them that opportunity.)
I still reflect the best of you.  It is my honor at stake if I don’t – not yours.  Not Anyone (Else)’s.

****

After millenia of asteroid peltings, I looked –
Beyond Uranus / Neptune / (Pluto)
(whom you no longer acknowledge, in order to tighten the net around me)
And found the wider Universe.

***

You admonished me to never to step beyond the edge of our System.
You stated – emphatically – that it did not. (should not.)  Exist.
It’s there.
I know.
You can no longer contain me, assure me it’s not there.

***

I can choose to give the Universe the best of you – still – only if I choose.
And I do.  When I choose.
And because I choose, and the (true) Universe knows it, I am forever beyond yours.

_____________________________________________________

Inspired by Prompt A – Day 6 of the Scintilla project.

Written by marginfades

March 21, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Posted in Margins Fade

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