“. . . Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. It’s all about taking in as much of what’s out there as you can, and not letting the excuses and the dreariness of some of [life’s] obligations…. narrow your lives. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.”~Susan Sontag
Nowhere has this wise statement rung more true for me than it did on Friday night when I danced in the crosswalks, sidewalks and an outdoor plaza of New Haven, CT with the gorgeous Lindsey Bauer and Samantha Russell from Elm City Dance Collective . Yowza!
While I cultivate a practice of presence, it’s a work in progress :). I keep at it because I know that when we notice the worlds around and within us, we can dive into the river of miracles that flows through our lives.
Our 90- minute improvisational dance on Friday helped me take my awareness to a new level and highlighted the bounty that paying attention yields. Not only were we creating movement with each other on the spot, but also we had to stay within the crosswalk and within the 12- second or so length of the walk sign each time it appeared.
Especially since we aimed to bring awareness to safety, there was no lagging behind or veering out of the crosswalk or obstructing other pedestrians’ paths. The uneven terrain, signposts, hydrants, concrete planters, and countless moving human types, also needed to be factored in as we danced with each other on the 360-degree “stage” that covered a constantly changing half a city block.
Paying attention, big time!
It was hard to believe that I couldn’t sleep that night. After driving 75 minutes each way to a strenuous dance class earlier in the day and then another 50 minutes to and from the public art show, my body was exhausted.
Yet, true to Susan Sontag’s insight, my mind and soul were still aflame; my awareness ratcheted up to a whole new level. The skin tingling sense of aliveness continued long after my fatigued body was prone.
My experience on Friday was an extreme case, but it served to demonstrate how essential to verve paying attention is. Using heightened awareness, we dancers were able to make all kinds of synchronistic connections: with each other, with passersby, with the changing environment. We could riff off of all of those sources of inspiration AND do it without injury to ourselves or someone or something else. The talented and peripatetic photographer, Rich Davis, provides further evidence of the power of paying attention through his beautiful photos. (All photos in this post by Rich Davis, http://davisphoto.smugmug.com )
Noticing so many catalysts for my dancing has just primed my pump for seeking more. More awareness. More connection. And ultimately more life.
So, if you are seeking refreshment of your spirit, body, mind and soul here’s my suggestion: Pay attention. Then go for broke.