I’ve Got Rhythm!
In the words of the great bard, “ a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” and Oregon Shakespeare Festival Theatre is a rose that could use another name: what a mouthful! My daughters were inspired to take me there for my birthday to see STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, Tennessee Williams’ tour de force from post WWII New Orleans.
The OSF was true to the original, directed by Christopher Liam Moore, with a lovely set by Christopher Acebo which evoked the french quarter through expressive use of pretend rod iron balconies & real rain that fell in one dramatic scene. The ensemble did an excellent job with each other; the justifications for the choices they made to get by were personal, felt genuine. It (as I’m sure t’was meant to do) awakened in me a desire to think about desire. My own desires have shaped my life, for good & better (or bad & worse), causing change & upheaval, destiny shaping decisions & raw acceptance of who I am & what I want. How important is desire? We use it as an excuse for indescretion, we give in to a multitude of temptations from eating junk food to fighting at sports events, we write poems, novels, plays & tv series about it…
I have followed my desires; wouldn’t be the me I be if I hadn’t, and yet, t’were I to do again knowing what I know? Yes. My daughters asked me over supper that night, what would I tell myself at 30 from the vantage of being 58? I think I said to trust your heart & listen to your intuition & eat more meat. Of course, since then, I have thought about what I might say with the experiences I’ve gained. I would top my list with buy land and build a house on it, for choosing a place & settling right on into it, a homeplace to leave & come back to or stay & simply live.
I wish I’d figured out more about how I feel best with food rather than doing what I thought was right: juicing & fasting even though I didn’t like it, not recognizing my lack of energy & depression as lack of basic nutrition.
Along with investing in dirt & trees, I would look at my money, keep track of it, perhaps divide it among categories,always adding to my financial freedom fund, as well as necessities, travel, education & the all important LTSS (long-term savings for spending for emergencies).
Another thing I learned along my way, which has taken years to integrate, is to find my authority within, not in a teacher, preacher, or guru from without. It was the main truth I took from my time at the ashram in India when my daughters were 7 & 4. It was the main teaching I got from being raised Methodist; John Wesley’s premise of a personal relationship with God.
You ask, what would I do with them? I would make them virtuous and happy, easy in themselves, and useful to others. Whither would I lead them? To heaven, to God the judge, the lover of all, and to Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant. What religion do I preach? The religion of love. John Wesley
I believe that God resides in my heart: I Am That, That I Am, and, as such, my decisions, even my choices, are rightfully based on what I hear from the sacred lotus at the center of my heart. In order that we all are well able to listen & share our heart’s desires with one another, it would be useful to learn how to communicate. Simple tools in cross purpose sharing as well as personal relationship could change how our nation, our world, gets along in the future.
If schools would take on the curriculum to include Re-evaluation Counseling or Compassionate/Non-Violent Communication or other proven methods of mediation & emotional expression, just imagine how people might begin to communicate & understand! Other than that, just the obvious: keep dancing, keep reading & writing, keep creating new things in art, community, clothing, food, music, everything!
As I pondered the things I wish I’d known, I saw a fundamental truth: a teaching from Rudolph Steiner, the early 20th century scientist & seer; the word rhythm. Rudolph said, “Study rhythm. Rhythm is the carrier of life.”
He didn’t mean dance & drum, though both are joyous healers; he meant the rhythms of our planet’s movement through the heavens, all the reflections of the universal rhythm: the light & dark of each day as well as how light changes through the year, the heat & cold of the seasons, the seed to bud to leaf to flower to fruit, the rhythms of our lives, the births, graduations, weddings, deaths, celebrated in grand traditional styles.
As a Dr. Hauschka aesthetician, I give a facial based on rhythm, I offer a body treatment that is rhythmical, the products I use are processed rhythmically and grown to the rhythms of the seasons. This biodynamic skin care line is based on Steiner’s suggestion to study rhythm. WALA Heilmittel, the parent company, makes remedies based on rhythmic processes & the skin care is based on these remedies, skin care that honors the natural rhythms of the skin, another way to bring more rhythm to your day. I am not saying this as an advertisement for Dr. Hauschka skin care (though I do offer the treatments & products!) but to illustrate that I have been thinking about rhythm for a long time. (It takes a long time to think about rhythm: something actually has to happen over & over again to take on the regularity of a rhythm.) This is true of creating a good (or a bad) habit; it must be done again & again over time to become a habit (for good or bad!) and this is true of all the things we do. My body is so much happier at zumba when I am regular in my attendance; when it is woven into the basic rhythms of my life. It is easier for me to get to class on time with all the things I need, ready & willing & with energy to last all class when I am doing it regularly, rhythmically. In Waldorf schools (a Steiner philosophy based education), the children honor the seasons with various songs, skits & creative activities to enhance rhythm in their young & impressionable lives. Having regular rhythms to their sleep & eating times helps children with ADD type behaviors and the opposite is true for children who have erratic & disrupted eating & sleeping schedules: they tend to act out, behave inappropriately, or show signs of listlessness & disinterest.
It is physically obvious with things like exercise, where when one falls out of regularity one will find it easier to self-injure and overdo, falling exhausted into bed following a class that just two weeks ago you were bouncing out of, “I swear it’s only been two weeks!” It is less obvious with internal issues of stress & emotion and probably even more important. Getting to your yoga class regularly gives you more than just the work-out, muscle stretching & balance improving you signed up for; it also releases the stress hormones & fills you up with the happy hormones, improving your mood & overall health & well-being in unquantifiable (as well as quantifiable) ways.
“Everything in the Universe has a rhythm, everything dances.” Maya Angelou
As I sat yesterday, watching the ebb & flow of the mighty Pacific, from the comfortable warmth of Mary’s living room & giant windows, I pondered that infinite movement, that tireless flow of water onto shore, the breathing of our planet as she turns through the darkness of space. That basic rhythm of wave onto shore, of breathing in & out, of sun from behind a cloud & the beat of my own heart; this is to be alive, to be here, to be physical, present for this moment in the larger rhythms of our earthly home. As noted by the examples of ocean wave & breath, rhythms do not remain the same all the time. They are regular without being same; as each snowflake is unique, we each find our own rhythms. Perhaps going to church one day a week is enough social for you & you pursue that rhythm all the days of your life. Or maybe you are into ‘knit, chat & sew’ or book or bridge groups, or you volunteer, because you just love to hang out with others in communion and purpose. Either rhythm is fine, both people are supported by this knowledge of themselves & what they like in their life rhythms, what is in harmony with their individual soul. What is difficult & dis-ease inducing is when one person is going along with another’s rhythm just to be nice, just to share in their partner’s interest or because they feel coerced, or to fulfill a work commitment or an ideal they harbor of themselves. This is not a healthful choice for to operate at rhythms counter to your nature creates disharmony which can then blow up in chaos in any number of emotional or physical ways from eczema to heart disease. Instead, take advantage of rhythm, supporting the rhythmic system of your body; heart beating, lungs breathing, lymph flowing, by breathing. By coming back to yourself & taking a deep breath…
I calm my body.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.
Thich Nhat Hahn
Just as the dentist wants teeth brushing to be developed into a beneficial habit or a new dance move requires extra practice, so too, the rhythm of creativity in our lives; of seeing the sun everyday, or following the moon through her monthly phases, honoring sunset with a surya namaskar or a cocktail, writing every morning & walking everyday, enjoying that once a year thanksgiving dinner or celebrating a birth, anniversary, harvest, or evergreens for the dark time of the year, requires our intention. You get to dance to your own rhythm if you let yourself follow it, listening to your heart & following its lead. We mirror the harmony of the universe when we enjoy the beauty of each time, each place, each way of being.
As the Bible says,“To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the heaven.”