If you are ever able to go a gaga workshop; a week or more dedicated to deeper investigation of the concepts of gaga as well as the chance to learn material from Batsheva’s repertory, you are able to purchase a t-shirt. On the front of the t-shirt is the word, boldly spelled out, “Available.” This could be particularly engaging for many men, who upon seeing a young female dancer advertising her status, may search the back of the t-shirt for a price list and menu of services. But for those in the know, it suggests that you are available for movement.
But what a great philosophy to adopt daily. Available. Open for communication, open to discovery, open to changes and differences of opinion, available to the world. It is a simple word, and we tend to use it in myriad ways, more often than not, to suggest our eagerness or ability to give ourselves over to someone else, but how about being available TO ourselves? Listening and unapologetically giving voice to the thoughts and ideas that lay dormant because they aren’t called upon by others, who need us to be available in different ways.
My last two days in Tel Aviv were sad, as predicted, but surprisingly, I felt ready to return. I had done what I wanted to do and I was eager to see whether or not my new state of mind could endure the pressures of wedding planning, rehearsals, additional commitments, the stresses of everyday life that take their toll on the availability of peace. Regardless, I find myself feeling resolute, determined to not allow this and a newfound sense of ownership to be chipped away by my need to make myself über available to others. Appropriately, this happens to be my 21st post on this blog, and consequently, my last one for now. I had no quantity in mind when I began this thing and I find it rather fitting that this is the magic number with regard to drinking, and more importantly, adulthood. Clearly I have been an adult for a loooong time, but now, I feel like I graduated from a different university and feel grown up in a different way. I will cling to this “diploma” with the tenaciousness of a pit bull.
I decided that no experience worth its weight, will leave you with all the answers and so the questions I bring back center around me and my work, and my interactions with others:
Will I continue to consider my needs more regularly? How does one balance that and being available to others?
What do I have to say as a choreographer? How is it different from what others are saying? Does it have to be that different or can I say the same thing with my own accent? People love accents, right? How unique does one’s vision have to be? How different is Mark Morris from Lar Lubovitch? How different is Maroon 5 from Train from The Foo Fighters? There seems to be plenty of room for all of those voices and accents, is there enough room for mine? If so, how will I define my accent?
Can I give Kathleen everything she needs, without expectations, with full commitment, indulge the effort and find pleasure in the work of the relationship? Will she forgive all the missteps?
Can I live each day in the present and not as though it is already tomorrow? Can I be in my kickboxing class and not worry about my next appointment while I am trying to remember “jab, cross, kick, jab, cross, jab,jab?”
Can I learn to say “no” and take time to make decisions with Kathleen and myself in mind?
What happens the next 5 years?
We all have these issues and concerns and I am in no way even trying to suggest that this is different from any other human thought that has existed over the last 4,000 years. I only iterate all of the above to signify the preciousness of what has been discovered, and illuminate the delicate act of preserving it. We bury ourselves in the elusive notion of the ”American Dream” we find comfort in the phrase”Everything Happens for a Reason” and by doing so, are we simply avoiding responsibility? Fate is a powerful thing, but can we pre-empt her programming and just grab someone’s or something’s horns ourselves? Can we find what we are looking for without looking so hard? Can we catch a snowflake, admire its beauty and keep it forever? How do I prevent it from melting? Is it so bad if it melts?
I used to think I could no more control any of that or enjoy any jurisdiction over anything so complicated as I could security efforts at an airport. But I can try. By the way:
Leaving Tel Aviv was more complicated than entering. I was 2nd in line to go through the security check dedicated exclusively to my flight home. Out of 400 hundred people who were going to be traveling the 12 hours to JFK on a flight that departed at 12:05 A.M.! Yes, A.M.! I was 2nd in line. When it was my turn to submit my passport, similar questions to the ones I answered five weeks ago were asked, my passport was taken away, brought back, I then became a powerless observer as the security people unpacked E V E R Y T H I N G from each of my 4 bags.Some were larger than others of course. I watched them unwrap all of the pottery that was meticulously bubble-wrapped and placed into a small suitcase with the precision of a watch mechanism, unpack 5 weeks worth of clothes and laundry, go through every piece of paper, each book, my laptop, toiletries, etc. etc. Two hours later, I was escorted to the metal screening room, felt-up in a way that normally follows dinner and drinks, taken back to my bags, and personally escorted through passport control. All the while I was told this happens to everyone – bullshit – because after being 2nd in line, I was the only person left in the main entry terminal when I was finally allowed to leave. I had outlasted 399 other people.
I am home now, enjoying my dog, eagerly waiting for Kathleen to come back from Asheville, and am confronted with a schedule that is just as full as it was before I left. No gentle denouement into my previous life. I hit the ground running and hold on to my unwillingness to go back to the way I used to exist – being available to all people at all times. I refuse to allow myself to get caught up in saying yes, just to please others and make myself miserable. I am available and will be available—usually.
For some reason, I am reminded of how my sister used to help me develop my career as a magician when we were kids. She would let me try out my magic tricks on her and would provide courteous feedback from time to time. I was never happy with the simple card tricks and coin disappearing acts. I wanted to go big! When my parents supplied me with a rather large cardboard box, I asked Rosalind to tuck herself into the box. I closed the box, taped it shut, then retrieved a dozen of my mother’s 24 inch shish kebab skewers. I would then run each skewer through the box, one side through to the other, and try to avoid her fragile, 8-year-old flesh. Never with success, never without a blood-curdling yelp from inside the box. Even when I tried to make pathways and align the skewers in a way that would avoid important body parts, I couldn’t quite make it work consistently. And never with all 12 skewers, the pathways were like a plate of spaghetti. Yet, I was always able to convince her to hop into the box time and again so that we could develop all the skills necessary to turn ourselves into, what we truly believed, would be the next Donny and Marie.
She availed herself to torture, I connected to sinister pleasure. Together we were forging pathways to stardom. I would have fewer cuts and puncture marks, however.
Available, hmm…….. I really am.