This video is my first attempt at explaining publicly something Quakers call a spiritual "Leading" that was first shared at Brooklyn Meeting last Sunday. I consider it a Leading because it's still working itself out inside of me, and feels like there's a lot more there to be revealed over time.
One of the things I struggle with as I explain it to other people is the performative aspect of sharing the Leading with others. (i.e. I kind of messed up the hand stand freeze in the video and felt like doing that part over, but in retrospect decided to leave it.)
Anyway, I hope you understand and can take something away from this Leading as it currently stands. A work-in-progress, obviously.
Full transcript after the jump…
So for the past few months, there has been a Leading that has been working in me, that I think I'm feeling ready to share with other people.
It's this idea of your Center. Which you can think of from many different perspectives.
I think of it a lot as a dancer. For those that don't know, I'm a amateur swing dancer and hip-hop dancer, a b-boy. So a lot of what I do is think about where my body is, where my center of gravity is.
When I'm trying to explain what it is about social dancing, like swing dancing or ballroom or salsa or tango, where there is two people who are sharing the space together, using each other's bodies to do things in response to the music. I realize that a lot of what is so compelling about social dance is this sense of sharing the center with another person.
It's really hard to explain to somebody who has never done it. Even someone who is a regular "dancer dancer", i.e. a non-partner dancer. Or just anybody.
So when you think about dancing, and I guess should just show you) you are trying to stay over your center. If you are not over your center you fall over. Which you can do intentionally, but you want to do it intentionally. You want to everything intentionally, you want to fall down intentionally, you want to fumble intentionally.
You are thinking a lot about this space around here, where my body is, and how I manipulate it to a charleston or do a b-boy move. Or even when you are spinning you are thinking of staying over your center. Or even if you are doing something acrobatic, I am thinking about where my center is and manipulate it, which seems fantastic but is really just moving my weight around and changing my body configuration.
And that's what you do as a human being. Just walking across the street, you are trying to stay over your center. When you are running you are pushing your center out there and trying to stay ahead of it. Someone said that walking is really just a fall and a recovery, over and over.
Social dancing is different.
So there's another person involved, and you are holding each other. That person and you are sharing the center. The center is no longer just yours. When you have a connection with another person you are using that's person's weight and their center, and they are using yours, to do things that you normally couldn't do by yourself.
So I can manipulate someone's center and have him or her reach incredible heights that she couldn't reach by herself. I can push my center over, and that person can support me and I can do a spin very very fast, or a whole lot of spins using that person's weight.
It's really empowering, that feeling of being able to things that you normally couldn't do by yourself by sharing that core energy that you both have, that when combined is much more than the sum of it's parts.
It's kind of addicting. Once you feel it, you want to feel it again, and you want to share it with other people. That's essentially what a lot of social dancing is about, it's this connection between another person that is profound and is always interesting and always creative.
So center… dance… okay. How does that connect to your spirituality?
So I was sitting in Quaker Meeting a couple of weeks ago, and this idea of my center and sharing someone else's center just wouldn't leave me.
And as I looked around the room at the 50 or so people there, I realized that all of them had their own centers. Coming together as a spiritual community, what we were doing was sharing in the middle of the room — I could really feel it — our shared center, our shared balance. And that together as a community we were able to do things that individually we couldn't do. And that there is something inherently compelling and energizing about that.
That we were in this dance together. And as a long as we were holding each other, and sharing that energy, that there are incredible things that we can do together for each other.
So that's the beginning of the Leading that I'm following.