Joy is when another writer puts into words what you’ve not quite been able to grasp. A yoga student loaned me Putting Movement into Your Life by dancer and scholar Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, a nothing-fancy self-published book with piles of gems inside.
Lines are clearly spatial entities, whether actually drawn on paper and perceived or whether imaginatively constituted and followed. When imaginatively brought to life, however that is, when experienced as a linear design or pattern created by movement, they are not purely and solely spatial entities. When we apprehend any moving body–our own or that of another person–as creating linear design and pattern, whether in stirring a cake batter, hammering a nail, kicking a ball, or zigzagging to avoid colliding with someone, we temporize a spatial dimension of movement in the course of imaginatively spatializing the directional line or lines themselves. In other words, being essentially kinetic spatial phenomena, the lines created by moving bodies are inherently temporal in character.
Experience this. Put movement into your life right now.
Sit in a chair, toward the front edge of the bottom. Lift a foot. Gently point the toes. With the foot, write the alphabet in the air, toes leading. Try cursive, capital letters or lower case. Move through both feet.
In so doing, we experience the imaginatively drawn line as a temporal as well as spatial phenomenon, a temporal phenomenon not simply in terms of its duration, but in terms of its pauses, quicknesses, attenuations, and so on. Indeed, lines have an intricate dynamic structure.
Sheets-Johnstone points out the impermanence of movement.
This is why I love teaching yoga, one-on-one and in small groups: How we move, what I say–the very action of my breath and lips in speaking–is unrecorded. We glide through moments in time, tracing imaginary lines, even stealing into imagined spaces in the body and the room and it’s all impermanent.
We are fully present for what is until what is becomes what was and we’re in the is. Union.
This is the magic of live performance. The sublimity of a kiss. This is what I was getting at with my collage postcards. Ephemerality. Letting be and letting go.
Sheets-Johnstone quotes the poet Antonio Machado as describing us as “wayfarers” and “wanderers.”
…the source of our path is unknown or not remembered and has no goal….What humans do to make up for the impermanence of their movement through life as a whole is draw figuratively on their imaginative consciousness of movement. We humans indeed dynamically recreate lines along which we have travelled, the paths of our lives once followed; and we dynamically create the paths along which we are now moving and might move in the future, the path of the moment and the paths along which life might take us.
In a recent workshop, a student commented, “I wish I were a movement person, but I’m not.” We paused the discussion and moved the palms of the hands with the breath like this.
“We’re all movement people,” I told her afterward. “We’re alive.”