‘How we measure ourselves against the natural resistances we encounter everyday determines the quality of what we accomplish’. Anne Bogart.
As a woman who’s chosen to treat life as an adventure I am often confronted by resistance. Whether I am met by my own resistance to the things I come up against, a kind of Hamlet ‘whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings of outrageous fortune’; or am simply resisted by outside forces I have no control over, my personage seems often determined by the moves I make from these encounters.
‘You’re so strong’ I often hear from my woman friends, and men miraculously find a place for their hands on the curvier part of my hips.
But what is strength? How is it measured? As Anne Bogart says above, perhaps it is measured by what we have been known to accomplish from those encounters to resistance. For instance, did we resolve a conflict, symbolically ‘slay a monster’ (external or internal), did we stand up for ourselves, did we exclaim love not knowing if we will get it in return; did we hand in an assignment, get that job, promotion or award?
Or did we simply brush that strand of hair from our face when the wind blew?
Our days are always met by resistance and we make choices about their weight and value, which ones we will go into battle for and which ones we will simply brush aside, but what about the ones we ought to fall to our knees to and surrender? These moments seem never to be honored as an achievement, our society seems not to value weakness or vulnerability.
All of our super heroes have one though. One thing that brings them to their knees. For many it seems to be love for one other; and then of course there is Superman and his Kryptonite. Whatever that one thing is though we always get the chance to see them without the suit, with the glasses on and begging ‘Pleeeease’ and ‘Help me’.
This is the moment I am curious about this morning. This is the ‘meant’ in wonder I am looking for.
How resistant am I to asking for help? To revealing to the world my vulnerabilities? What am I hiding or rather, what do I want the world not to see?
For one to unravel such questions one needs to start by slowing down for sometimes ‘being strong’ has you running at the speed of light, constantly fighting so you can use your wins to further this grand idea of your strength. But when you least expect it something will arrive that brings you to your knees and slowing down earlier would have helped you see it coming.
When you slow down you start becoming more present to ‘everydayness’, you see that battles can be fought and won in simple things such as that brushing aside the strand of hair I mentioned earlier. You realise that battles don’t have to be grand ones and that they don’t need any other reward or accolade than you, content in the knowledge of your own achievements. Here you find that, although nice, you don’t need the grade, you don’t need the shaking of the hand and you don’t need the script you so desperately hold that tells people of your success.
Letting go of that script is one of the hardest things I believe, for you are having to let go of the words you use to convince people of the person you want them to see. I’ve watched this moment countless times, the moment of fear and confusion when I tell my acting students on the first day (the first week) ‘put away your scripts, in life we do not know what we are going to say’. Their fear comes from the fact that their scripts are their security blanket. They are fixated on learning the lines, the words on paper they can in fact use to mask or hide from the weight of the emotions they will need to feel if they are to do the job well.
In these classes, as we start to sink into the body, into the breath, we become aware of how little words we have that accurately convey what we feel. At the same time each of us begins to notice how much communication is happening anyway in the postures, spasms, lack of eye contact or stillness of our bodies.
When Superman loses his strength, his body crumbles and he falls to his knees. What we as an audience however miraculously find in this moment, his moment of weakness, is in fact strength. We see in his struggle that we are not alone.
A world that struggles to reveal or see value in vulnerability is a world of lonely people. It is a place where communication is anything but honest and listening an art lost.
Wonder. Meant …that perhaps to be the braver we need not resist.