Staying on Axis

Tango is a metaphor for life and I frequently find myself applying what I learn in dance to my daily living. Everything in Argentine tango revolves around the refinement of walking and staying on axis - being balanced. And so it is in life for me right now. The more uncertainty there is, the more I have to ask myself, what does it mean to keep walking, to stay balanced?

When I was first learning tango, learning to walk and keep my axis consisted of copying specific body shapes that I was observing in my teachers. I learned to place my feet a certain way, turn my torso another way, engage this part while relaxing this other part. At some point I felt like I had understood something, arrived somewhere. It was a place of comfort, pride even, as all of the little things that seemed too complicated at first, were now second nature. It was possible to run down a list of things in my mind and check things off one by one. Balance, check. Pivot, check. Turn the foot out, check. 

And then a moment came when the dance sped up, the level of the partner was much higher than previously experienced, the music was faster than before, and it was impossible to keep tabs on everything. The speed of thought felt too slow, something else had to take over. Walking and balancing meant something different as superficial technique wasn't enough anymore. The structure fell apart, pride was replaced by humility, and the only strategy was to slow down, ground, and trust. Trust in the cellular memory, trust in instinct, trust in gravity. The mind had to become a witness while everything moved in slow motion. 

And so it has been in my life. Over the past several years, little by little, I had been building, planting seeds, planning, organizing, and there was a sense of "having things under control." Complete this task, check. Eat, check. Meditate, check. Sleep, check. And then suddenly, the flow of life accelerated beyond my ability to keep tabs on it. In a few days I will be leaving Portland and embarking on an adventure in Argentina with no return ticket. There is no time to question, to check, to doubt. The only option it to slow down, ground, trust.