The first week of June 2020 has broken us.
Maybe like me your heart is in pieces, maybe like me you are aware that fixing it is not an option.
Words are not my native language, but I try. The day on which I wrote this was a “national day of stopping” business as usual. Stopping to look at what we have become, where we are as a culture, a country, a gathering of human beings.
This is a new level of stopping I wouldn’t have come to on my own, if not for the public health crisis brought on by COVID and the senseless murders of black people in this country: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others that I don’t, yet, know by name. Memory is embodied in language as “knowing something by heart.” There are so many that we have never even collectively heard of, whose names are known only to their families and friends. Every day now as I write this new unknown murders of innocent black people are coming to light – all of them happening since January of this year. It’s too big for my mind, but not my heart.
Without my heart my mind is useless.
What saved me this morning was picking up bell hook’s book “All About Love.”
It helped me to remember that I can look at everything that’s happening right now as if it was all about love. My fear, pain, anger, even hatred of Trump when it comes, is all about the loss of love and the need for love, the profound effort to return, over and over again, to love of life in all things. The risk that young people are taking in the streets is a return to love. The smashing of stores is painful and often senseless, but the refusal to put profit over life is not. It makes deep sense. We have let hate become a way of life and we have to stop it.
All the work we have done to get in touch with our bodies is going to come in handy now. Your body, your true home, is so vulnerable. It has everything you need to know about racism contained in it. Your body knows what it means to feel free, to move as you wish, to have space to breath. Your body knows what it really means when you forget about how important that is for other human beings.
Your body knows what it feels like to not be free to move even an inch, to breath, to speak. George Floyds last words were words of love. If you watch the video, you don’t just hear that love. You feel it in your whole body as his precious life is taken from him. Your heart knows what it is to be stomped on, enslaved, imprisoned for profit, brutalized, and beaten. Our sensitized bodies feel the violence done to others as if it was happening to us.
Because it is.
Our body instantly recognizes the complete disassociation expressed in the calm, cruel demeanor of policeman Derek Chauvin as he took George Floyd’s precious life away. I’m grateful to feel broken, to feel angry, to feel outrage, to feel grief, to feel hope. I’m grateful to be a mess today. Today, these are the fruits of embodiment.
I’m not scared of these feelings.
I’m more scared about what will happen to us if we can no longer feel them. And that gives me courage to keep doing what I’m doing.
Get close to what you love. Hold, touch, and share it. Help each other to get close and stay close to it, whatever it is. Trust it and let it be your guide.
I want to thank the students who came to class this week and helped me to stay in touch with my body, heart, and mind in motion. And that’s what we need to do – move forward in a new way. Let the old broken way go and stumble on, not knowing how we are going to end racism but knowing that we must if we love life.
There is something very important about a dance class – it’s a collective revivification of ourselves in each other’s presence that energizes us in a way that we cannot do on our own. Even online, this magic always visits us.
We move forward together and reconstitute our broken hearts into something new.