Creating Light in the Darkness
Days grow shorter, and colder. I sleep later, snuggled warm under my down comforter. Drink more tea, unwittingly participate in a ritual older than time as we reckon it in the western world. The art of making tea. The choosing, the heating of water, the waiting for steeping, for transformation. And just as the flame under the kettle warms the water that joins with the leaf to create a magical combination or warmth and comfort. Of healing and nourishment, I too can be that warmth, that light in the darkness for another.
These are the things I think about at this time of year. A time when we can feel isolated. When the darkness outlasts the light, we tend to turn inward. For some that is a welcome respite from a busy world and the demands we face every day. For others such solitude is loneliness, and isolation. The darkness can be overwhelming. We focus on our shortcomings and weaknesses. Especially when the cold is accompanied by aches reminding us of old wounds, and places that didn't heal quite right. Whether it's an old sports injury or an unresolved conflict with a loved one, this time of cold and dark brings it forth. Sometimes we aren't even aware of what is causing our distress. But we know it's there.
At the same time, we are bombarded with CHEER! Smile! Buy this! Do that! Jingle jangle, smile for the family photo that will be the one image sent out to the masses that don't see your faces any other time except on that holiday card that has to be PERFECT.
There is a danger in perfection. You see perfection isn't human. It's not how we are built, yet somehow we strive for it. It makes for dark times.
Moshe Feldenkrais said, "Find your true weakness and surrender to it. Therein lies the path to genius. Most people spend their lives using their strengths to overcome or cover up their weaknesses. Those few who use their strengths to incorporate their weaknesses, who don’t divide themselves, those people...lead their generation."
Could it be that incorporating the places we are weak and broken will lead to genius? Following his philosophy, in working with the Feldenkrais Method, we work on awareness. Awareness of both our strengths and weaknesses. Both the light and the dark. So that we have more choices. More and increasingly varied ways to move our bodies, more creative ways to think and problem solve. In the process, we are encouraged to make mistakes. Lots of them. And the more we strive for perfection, to do it right, to avoid the mistake, the more we are limiting ourselves and our human potential.
And as Maya Angelou so famously said, we will learn to do better. But we don't forget the old pattern, the old habit. We incorporate it, and use it to strengthen us, to enrich our experience. Because the light and the darkness exist together. As we do. In our families, in our communities, we have the potential to incorporate the parts that appear as weaknesses in order to strengthen the whole. While this time of long dark days can feel lonely and isolating, there is a light. Sometimes we are the light. Sometimes we need the light of another to help anchor us. No matter what role we are in, we are both the weakness and the strength. I believe these two things can and do exist side by side.