The Path Taken
Though many years have gone since I began creating a physical technique through which our bodies connect us more fully to the world around us, I have finally become a person for whom his own teachings have happened to the teacher. I am stunned.
In the middle 1990's, I came to the North Country and the Tamarack Lodge. I am now realizing that I was beginning a journey. Even at the outset of my life here, I sensed that no one was going to travel with me. Though I did not know at the time, my travels were taking me into the mysteries of solitude. I have come to understand that, if your willingness to be alone is total, you eventually will discover that your world has suddenly become simple and complete. No person, or event, or possession, or profession can catapult you out of your present. Nothing can seduce you into grasping for realities that are not yet realized. Many people seem to waste the achievements of each day on an anticipated life. Living in the future makes the present a lie. And that is the greatest mystery of solitude: nothing can destroy the present.
After ten years, the path on which I have been traveling has reached its fulfillment. The room where I live is beautiful. I call it a loft, but it is only the attic of the pointed roof above the second story of the Tamarack Lodge. The Lodge is one hundred feet long, and my part of the attic, my room, is sixty feet of that. The end of my room is all glass, windows that rest on the old attic floor, and rise to the peak of the roof. My desk---it is a college student's from a hundred years ago---sits at an angle to this glass. When I am at my desk writing in my journal, I see the field, and woods, and paths that I have built in those woods. I am sitting three stories high with nothing to censor my sight of the land. Further back in the attic is my cedar bed built for me by a friend who is a wood artist. Each of its four cedar posts are powerful square columns, which were the center of a single tree grown on our land. I can feel the life that was in that tree as I fall asleep. Between the columns at the foot of the bed, my friend carved a winter view of the Lodge.
Last week, I woke just as the morning was beginning to light the land. I got out of bed and went to my desk. I looked out through my windows, and saw the land that I have loved, and nurtured for hundreds of hours. I suddenly realized that I had never been there before. As I looked out across this land, every one of the paths that I had carefully built were now new. I turned back to see the loft itself. Each piece of furniture, Gus, my chocolate lab, and the long wooden stripes of my enameled ceiling---brilliant at my desk and fading into shadow at the end of my loft---all were as though I had never seen them before. My world was being reborn for me. I went down the stairs of my discovered home, and out on to the land. The life under me--- the grass, and the roots of trees that I had planted years ago, and the life in the limbs, trunks, roots of the kingly giant pines that surround the house and the land---this life flowed into me, and I into it. I had never known fullness as complete as that moment. It was as though the deepest chord of the greatest symphony resounded into every cell of me. Rilke describes the experience saying, "What a monstrous lie his brain would have to invent to explain the state of his senses. So for him who becomes solitary all distances change, all measures change; of these changes many take place suddenly, and then, as with the man of the mountain top, extraordinary imagines and singular sensations arise that seem to grow beyond all bearing."
The joy of discovering everything being new made me quiet, made me laugh, made me run in the field dancing with Gus. I had begun to be a part of each element of the world around me and they a part of me. I saw, heard, touched, and smelled. As I looked at Gus---him in me and me in him--- I realized that this becoming a part of was simple, clear, love. "With you I leave a remembrance of miracles. They are for someone who can love, and who can be continually reborn, a human being." I have ended hundreds of classes with these words of e.e.Cummings. I was both humbled and grateful that now they were coming alive in my life.
In the Movement Technique, years ago I had described, and taught to my students "the physical process of connection" with their world. A rather academic document called THE CHART was an outline of the process, printed below. My personal discovery of my Chart opened into this morning's sunrise, in the miracle of light flooding across my land. This life-changing moment, plunged me into connections with every living being, I knew no moment but the immediate. I wanted for nothing. Through my senses, I had discovered the present. Possessions, victories, failures, none of these had any life beyond me in this present. Behavior flowed from me, instinctive, clear, and true. I knew no judgment or fear. My shouting, flying leaps, and dance, and my quiet were all diagramed in THE CHART: sensory connection to our world gives us the present---its contact, its experiences. and its expressions. That is complete.
Concurrently, I have been making discoveries in the technique that have amazed even me. I have been in my own classes for an hour and half each day, and the connection that I have with music---all forms of music from Sinatra to Bach, from Motown to Mahler, and yes even rap (though rap is static)---sends me flying into motion, and moving in the vocabulary of our movement variations. But I have never moved as now. The strength and freedom is greater than I have ever had. Remember the old variations that were a part of the technique? I have gone back, and incorporated them into a seamless flow of the current open choreography including the standing variations. It becomes akin to a Zen experience, working, stretching, strengthening every muscle group of the body, and it produces a wonderful balance and length of the spine. It is the stuff of a true master class, for people who have completed all their training with each of the faculty who guided their students in a mastery of the basics of the technique.
All of this enriched movement vocabulary and deeper experience of connection could have an awesome effect on the connection between actors, or on the connection with any form of human communication.
These experiences led me into contemplating the origins out of which this movement technique grew---the beginnings of this life long journey. I've always known that it predated my New York acting training.