Thursday, July 05, 2018

Sweet Beast

The half-formed idea is the thirteen legged beast I wrestle with everywhere these days. On trips to the supermarket I see a flash of its tail curl into aisle D, in the shower it hogs all the soap, and when I'm just drifting off to sleep it scratches me with a scaly toenail to say, "Hey, still here," as if I needed the reminder. I'm thinking of you, half-formed idea, all of the time.

It has no face. It has no name. Naming it would make it real, and it is not ready to be real yet. As un-whole (and unholy) as it is, it can be anything. All thirteen of its legs are full of potential. It may walk! It may run! It may fly! Maybe the legs are set to transform into wings. Or eggplants. Who knows? Who knows? Who knows?

I am building a one woman show with no words. I have just my body, and some props, which start to take on the feel of "visual aids" sometimes as I work, like I'm just handing these object ideas to the half-formed idea beast and it is holding them up for the class to see and wonder over. Here's an onion. It represents layers. Here's a ball of twine. It represents, I don't know, something. Ugh.

This is my creative process, and on good days I cheer myself on with the notion that having this restriction is a catalyst, not a conundrum.

I think my mother may feel the same way about her aphasia. It's kind of just right, building this show this way, a this time in my life. My mother's words are eroding, but we've developed a personal sign language for communicating. When vocabulary is evasive, movement speaks. Our pantomimes almost always end in some good laughs. Aphasia has moments of serendipity, and plenty of opportunities for creative problem solving. Sometimes she's up for that, and others, not. I get it.

Today I spent two hours rolling around on the floor of the garage, exploring Barteneiff's Fundamentals of Movement -- breath support, initiation, sequencing, alignment and connections, body organization, ground, weight shifts, spatial intent. It's great to know the terms, but I don't think of them as I move, I just move. I become more aware of how my body moves, how it changes in feeling as I walk or stand after experimenting. Today I felt a little like DaVinci's Vetruvian Man.

Then I got thirsty, distracted by heat, and my head pounded. The beast returned to drag me back to the hellscape of doubt, which I'm pretty sure is made up entirely of positive internet memes.

All functional movement is expressive. Think about that the next time you bend your neck to look at your phone, or pick up a chair and walk across a room with it. Your body is always telling a story, is always revealing your inner life, whether you like it or not. What a tattletale. What a sweet beast, the idea of the body as storyteller.