This is not so much about me, but about us, a particular, strangely anonymous us.
Certain Sunday mornings, instead of church, I go to an ecstatic dance gathering. Here a DJ plays space music, international spirit music, with an occasional “Stairway to Heaven” elongated and elevated mix. Usually the music starts slowly and builds to an eventual frenzy.
Most dance barefoot. Many are solo, but others pair with old friends or sudden new friends. Triads are not uncommon. Puppy piles happen too, childlike adults writhing on the wooden floor, all arms and legs and buttocks.
I am resistant to these couplings and joinings. I have no desire to slosh around in this human soup. My joints refuse to join with your joints, in this dance joint, this new age juke joint. I am a wallflower who will not cross-pollinate.
At these gatherings, I do not gather. I almost always dance alone. This is my opportunity to scatter the pieces of myself, and gather them up again differently. Periodically, I rush off the dance floor to my notebook.
But I have been astonished here, more than once, by a rising need to cry. I have had to sit on the floor in the corner, wallflower-style, to weep and even to sob. I do not know why. Sometimes I face the wall, but sometimes I face the crowd. I am generally left alone, as these enlightened spiritual folks know not to violate another’s personal space.
So, thankfully, people don’t bother me while I am having these surprising and quite private e-motions. But once not long ago, a small grey man slowly approached me, on all fours. He squatted near me, head cocked, grey eyes looking deep into my weeping eyes. A curious and caring animal, more ancient than simian, sub-verbal, he was simply concerned about another of his species.
The animal I was took a look at the animal he was. And, there we were. Here we were.
My eyes dove deep into his. There in that shared intimacy, I somehow found it safe to weep freely. This crying had no label whatsoever. Hot tears poured down my cheeks. He crouched nearby and shared this wordless trip into the dark core of who we are, and how we do not know who we are, and how our solitary wondering, at rare moments, can join with another’s solitary wondering. There, we wonder together.
My crying subsided. He crawled slowly away. I stood up and glided, swimming into the crowd.
Another morning I arrive and see, in the growing crowd, a small trim man standing on his head. He is perfectly vertical, upright, but upside down. His shirt has slid down to his chin. His ribcage is exposed. His privates have surrendered to gravity; there is a perky bulge in his velvet pants. He is so still and so centered that he can slowly swivel his hips and flex his feet. I marvel.
When he lowers his legs and rights himself, I see he is the small man I had been nonverbal animals with.
I notice him, and I dance away. The room fills with the glee and bliss of others. I step and slog solo, reaching my tentative limbs into the big space, marching in virtual combat boots towards my freedom. I scramble to scribble notes; my pen runs out of ink. I take this as a sign to just Be.
Then he appears before me again. Though I am so careful not to connect or interact with anybody else, to stay in my own little poet’s bubble, my eyes easily meet his. Immediately, the wet feelings rise up: I find myself, again, weeping into his eyes.
Head cocked, he moves a bit closer. He witnesses me, wet with sweat and tears and all-too-human fluidity. Almost motionlessly, we move closer. I am extremely tentative. All of this happens very very slowly.
We are closer than close. This almost-touching is richer, more articulate than actual contact.
Finally, we come temple to temple. My sweat becomes his sweat. I breathe his body odor and mine. I smell his vegetable breath. We are that close.
He emits gentle little primitive whimpers. His slight panting reminds me over and over that I am still containing myself, not breathing at all. Temple pressing temple, my hard head tries to hear what is going on in his hard head. Our temples are touching, sharing a pulse. Strands of his thin grey hair, escaped from his ponytail, cling to my face. I let this happen. We are so still that a fly lands on my wrist, my knee, his neck, and we do not shoo it away.
We stand like this for a long time. My eyes are either closed or filled with tears or filled with his eyes. I do not notice the wildly whirling clumps of dancers who, as they pass, must see this phenomenon we are. I care about nothing but being, being in this proximity with him.
After a while of time suspended and discarded, we slowly draw apart, turn, and I move into my own direction once again.