Life in motion…

turtle on sandcats dancing





A few months ago, i wrote a post about movement

Its theme was how we experience movement through time, and i said i would write a further post on the subject. Here it is…

As i noted in the earlier piece, i got to thinking about movement when i became able to return to it after a period of stagnancy and lack of control.
Movement, to put it simply, feels good.

When i think of enjoying movement, i think first of bodily motion. The visceral elation of being on a swing as a child and going as high as i could, for example. Or the excitement of driving a fast car or being on a roller coaster. Thrilling physical motion feels as though we can almost be taken out of time for a moment.

A second notion of movement (which i focused on before) makes me think of time passing, and why there’s a sense of satisfaction in noting our relationship to it.
We like checking things off to-do lists and finding shortcuts that help us move through tasks more efficiently.
When we don’t sense progress we say we are spinning our wheels or treading water — not very positive images.

A third aspect of movement has to do with our emotional experiences.
I acknowledge a subtle shift in meaning between these usages, but i think there’s a relevance between time passing and being moved in our sentiments.

We say we are moved by a piece of art, or we find someone’s words moving.
Motivational speakers and advertisers aim to move us to make a change or make a purchase.
(The word ‘motive’ derives from the same root as ‘to move’.)
Inspirational writers wish to move us to embrace an idea or take an action.

We connect with great literature because it moves us to contemplate and gain understanding about humanity and ourselves. The more deeply we identify with the characters and ideas, the more emotionally moved we are.

An insightful way to describe someone is to point out what moves them.

Music ties together two of these meanings — movement through time and the effect on our feelings.
(The word ‘motif’ in music or literature also traces its etymology to movement.)
Anyone conversant with classical music may already have noted that sections of music are themselves called ‘movements’.

Just as experiencing motion and emotion in music is satisfying, so is experiencing momentum toward achieving goals.
In contrast, inertia often suggests something must be wrong.

When we are grieving the passing of a loved one, or the demise of a relationship, it feels as though forward motion stops while we begin to cope.
Conversely, healing is signified not only by life’s momentum returning to some normalcy, but also by no longer being as quickly moved to tears when that person comes to mind.

When my sons were little, i relished each birthday as a marker of their movement toward maturity, at the same time being moved to a tinge of melancholy, witnessing their childhood delights becoming part of the past.
Even now, both of them well into adulthood, this still strikes me as the epitome of how the passage of time itself moves me emotionally.

Many might readily suggest this is attributable to our underlying and uniquely human awareness of our own ultimate physical end.
That awareness can bring a clarity of purpose to how we decide to spend what time we have.

Meanwhile, our sense of being pleased by movement may explain why it can be difficult to simply pause, to deliberately choose restorative stillness from time to time.

So as we are moved to both delight in and lament life’s curiosities, here’s to finding harmony too between motion and stillness.

On the move…

wave splashing on rocks Tyler Feld 07142018

(Tyler Feld Photography)

I composed some of this post while i was walking this morning, and some while i was knitting. The movements got me thinking about life from the perspective of motion…

As creatures bound by time, we experience our existence as movement through time. 

We measure our days and our years by what we get done, and by when. 

We wish our favorite moments could last forever.

When something shattering happens we say it was like time stood still.

When we accomplish or survive something significant, we feel good about having gotten from then to now, from there to here. 

‘Making progress’ feels important to us. We mine satisfaction from a sense of forward motion.

This is on my mind as i consider why i’ve felt rather contented over the past few months. Some of it comes with stepping out into the clearing after having been in the woods for a while. Some has to do with uplifting connections with family and friends. But it isn’t due to any major achievement, or to writing more posts (obviously). 

I do always feel a sense of having gotten somewhere after i’ve written. But i haven’t posted anything of length in a while, and it occurs to me that i’m getting some of the sense of movement i need from another source, namely, knitting and crocheting… 

When i write an essay or a fable, i love seeing the beginning, middle and end take shape. 

The ‘fiber arts’ projects also provide a beginning, middle and end that i am directing. 

A crucial distinction is that with the yarn-based endeavors, i’m following someone else’s pattern, rather than creating something original. Composing demands more strenuous thought and is therefore rewarding in a different way. 

But enjoying the fiber arts (which i only recently returned to after decades away) strikes a happy medium between passivity and more deeply engaged effort. And while doing the finger-work, i am often mentally stimulated to get on to the writing.

Relishing both activities, i hear a whisper inside: “Lots looks different now, but you made it through, you’re ok.”  

Reflecting on tougher times, it hits me that they were characterized by either very little perceived forward movement, or by a swirl of motion involving me that i was not directing and had little influence over. 

But even when all is well, we live in a culture that prizes busyness, and we need to cultivate composure, make time for down time, elicit equanimity. 

The momentum of a too-busy life can get the better of us, like losing one’s balance running down a hill. 

For some, meditation and mindfulness are key to countering the imbalance. They do so not through escapism, but through re-orienting.   [*Be* the purring kitten.]

Momentum does not equal purpose. We can feel adrift doing too little or too much.

Peaceful direction seems the best balance. 

We can get a certain amount of this just from getting little chores done. Paying bills or doing dishes –they’re still movement [sideways oxymoron alert].

And spending time with others doesn’t get in the way of goals — when it is one of the goals. 

An idea which guides my thinking about almost everything is connectedness. Our deepest satisfactions as well as our most disruptive challenges have to do with our interrelations with others; the investment can be hefty but is rarely wasted.

I’ll have more to say in a future post about other kinds of movement. 

But if you’ll excuse me for now… that scarf isn’t going to knit itself.