Rhythms of Change
Imagine a horse that desperately wants to swim like a fish, or a sloth that longs to move through the trees like a lemur. Sometimes I feel like that.
These past two days I have been at prison abolition and reform events. I am meeting a lot of wonderful people and find myself enjoying a lot of forward-moving energy. I want to write, go to more meetings, and start more projects than I could ever have time and attention for.
Then, I get a strange idea that things should be a certain way all of the time, like wishing I would be this excited and productive every day. But, I am feeling bolstered at the moment by an awareness of the rhythms of change work. There is a natural forward and backward movement that I appreciate discretely from the outcomes. These same rhythms exist in both personal and social change.
In fact, they exist in all of nature. One thing I’ve learned from the Taoists over several years of training in Chinese Medicine is how to notice patterns in nature, and how those same patterns repeat on every level.
The rhythms of life remind me a lot of dancing. There are forward steps and back steps, spins and lunges, little tweaks and massive changes in orientation, all happening with a certain kind of unconscious intelligence and beauty. Each swing is different than the last. Some go better than others, but each one shares much in terms of its intention, its purpose, and its taste.
In the winter seeds freeze under the earth, in the spring they suddenly sprout and grow at immense speed, in summer plants expand, flower, and mate, later on they fruit, and relax, until finally they release their energy back into the earth, or draw it deeply into themselves, for another winter.
Likewise, I am sometimes moving at great speed, other times dancing and playing with others. On another day I am receding, and every now and then I hibernate. Sometimes the rhythms pick up and I move through several states in a single day. At other times, and on other levels, I move through my internal seasons with a kind of tidal determination. You might not notice the change happening moment to moment, but the difference between a high tide and a low tide is irrefutable, severe.
Just as in dancing, there’s a kind of basic beauty to this rhythm. Everybody finds their downbeat. Sometimes it is a smooth and easy downbeat, and sometimes it is terrifying or difficult. The dance goes on either way.
I find it helpful now and then to check in on where I am in my rhythm, allowing myself a moment of gratitude for the cycles of highs and lows, outward focus and inward focus, that I know by now I go through with a certain sort of predictability. This practice helps get my mind off the specific content of whatever I am concerned about, and places me in a more zoomed out and clear relationship with the movement happening in my life.
When I rest in the rhythm of change, I can more easily drop the thought that I should always be this happy and engaged. I can see how I’d never be here if I didn’t just come from somewhere else.
Deep squats lead to long leaps;. sweet moves end in repose; and mistakes lead the way to rebalancing.