The Final Movement and Postscript

(Not) recorded: January 19
Music: Suite Bergamasque, III: Claire de Lune
Composer: Claude Debussy

On the eve of my 45th birthday, I went into the studio to tape the final piece for Move Through It. I booked only an hour, and I spent 30 to 40 minutes of that time listening and moving to music without the camera. I had built up a sizable Move Through It "possibilities" playlist. I wanted to spend some time moving to the music I didn't select for the 12 pieces I recorded over the year.

I felt lithe and sure-footed as I moved, my body rising and falling, hastening and slowing, bending and turning with the various musical landscapes of each track. Eventually, the music I wanted to use for my final movement piece began to play: Claude Debussy's Suite Bergamusque, III: Clair de Lune.

A gorgeous composition, it begins quietly, cautiously, and then builds into something that feels liberated, limitless in its expression. As I moved to it, I felt myself going on a similar journey, starting with subtle gestures that became more emphatic and purposeful as the music built to a crescendo. When the song ended, I was surprised to feel sweat running down the back of my neck. I was breathing hard. It made me smile. I felt vibrant.

I decided it was time to make the final movement piece. I turned on the camera, started Debussy from the beginning and walked to the center of the room.

As the first notes played, I began to move. It immediately felt wrong. Contrived and stiff. I took a deep breath. Relax, I told myself.

About that time, someone entered the public restroom right outside the studio. The bathroom door elicited a long, loud squeak over Debussy's soft piano keys. I was certain the audio picked it up. Darn it. I stopped the camera, started the music over, hit record again and returned to the center of the floor.

Take two.

Maybe a minute into my second attempt, the person in the restroom made his or her timely exit. Another loud squeak from the door, this time accompanied by the residual noise of a flushing toilet. With my eyes, I threw fiery darts at the studio door and stomped back to the camera. I glanced at the clock. Six minutes left in the studio. I started the music over. I hit record for a third time.

Midway through the piece, I heard a buzzing somewhere outside. It grew louder and louder. Was it a leaf blower? Nope. An airplane flying low overhead. The noise pollution of the jet engines overrode the classical music for several seconds. I threw my hands in the air and yelled at the ceiling: "Seriously?!"

I stood there for several seconds, crestfallen. My time in the studio was up. I didn't have a final movement piece to show for it. What a waste, I thought.

But then, I had a second thought — and with it came a smile, because I recognized it as the truth: The movement piece that was meant to happen had already happened — and it happened off camera.

The final movement piece was just for me.


POSTSCRIPT written February 1, 2016

After I left the studio on January 19, I went on to celebrate my 45th birthday the following day — and the celebrating sort of turned into a week-long (rest of the month?) observation. I spent a lot of time in the sun. I wrote for pages and pages in my journal. I wrote letters of gratitude to friends and family. I took myself to dinner at Jeffrey's and ordered without looking at the prices. I went for long walks with Martha Dog. I read in bed until well after midnight. I rarely set the alarm. I reflected on this past year and this experiment in movement.

I think Movement Piece No. 10 gave me the first inkling of what moving through this year would ultimately teach me. I couldn't fully articulate it yet, but I knew it had something to do with faith. Movement Piece No. 11 brought things closer to the surface, and, after recording Movement Piece No. 12, I could clearly see how the experiment's premise of "getting out of my head and into my body" had broader applications for me beyond getting through a milestone year in my life.

I now view Move Through It not as an experiment, but as a year-long practice in learning how to listen to my intuition, trust the process and get comfortable with not knowing. Each session in the studio allowed me an opportunity to quiet the rhetoric in my head and attune to what actually is through my felt sense. The practice kept me fully embodied in the present moment, feeling my way through the situation and trusting my intuition to show me the way.

I'm not saying that after a year of doing this, my mind has miraculously stopped analyzing and critiquing my every move. I've just become less interested in listening to it. I am getting better at distinguishing between what is fearful thinking and what is truth. This practice has given me a little more patience to sit with uncertainty and wait for the answers that feel right in my bones. I am learning the richness and value of the journey itself.

These aren't new ideas to me. I have understood them intellectually for many years — and even espoused them to the women I meet when I'm volunteer-facilitating classes in prison. But moving through this year has allowed these ideas to take root in my heart. It has awakened some faith deep down inside where previously there was very little.

This experiment also has reinforced for me the power of self-expression — especially when it is shared with others and used as a tool to make peace with things I find difficult or uncomfortable in life. Throughout this experiment, there were individuals who came forward and shared with me what witnessing Move Through It had evoked in them. Their stories and perspective brought awareness and healing to me I could not have found on my own.   

In ending Move Through It the experiment, I feel myself embarking on a life-long practice of listening for, and trusting in, this deeper knowing inside me — especially when my heart is hurting or life feels overwhelming or threatening. Because this is where I will find a more empowering truth that will support and sustain me as I move about life, exploring a path that was cleared just for me.