I touch myself. The touching I am writing about is not of the sexual type. Sexual touching, that’s a given with me but it is one that I feel no need to share with you. I am checking that everything I know is as it should be. I am feeling for change. I am asking much. I am listening with my hands.
As I start to fall asleep, or am waking up, I run my hands over my body. It’s an exploration. If I find soreness or a tight muscle, I press my fingers into the spot and massage it. I push my palm flat against my ribs or my stomach and breath in and out, feeling muscles shift under my touch. I contract my muscles and play with the push and pull of what I can control.
It’s almost been a year. This time the year doesn’t mark the earthquake. It is a year since I moved deeper into my body.
Books are my religion. I open the pages and look through other eyes. Over time the overlapping perceptions, landscapes, and lives compress to form another strata of my morality and thought process. I internalize the words and combine them with my own personal experiences. This constant compression, readjustment, composting, and tectonic shifting eventually becomes expressed in my own words and writing.
I do not pray. I do not meditate. I move my body. I do this to elevate my mind and my moods beyond my words.
Dance is the zenith of my movement.
I cannot reach that peak with laying a foundation. I cannot bring forth words without my books, my ears, my life and time. I similarly cannot dance without feeding my body with food, inspiration, and exercise. I must erect a scaffolding that can support my weight before I can be weightless
My body changed more than usual over the last year. Part of my post-earthquake reality was that the economic damage to Tokyo restaurants resulted in my once/twice a week paid performances going to dancers who charged half my price. It hurt. It was an economic loss, for sure, but more than that it was the lost of a large part of how I defined myself as a dancer and an endpoint for which I had built my at-home practice toward. I carried around with me a sense of emptiness. I was simultaneously ashamed of feeling the loss because I was well aware of how minor it was in comparison to the loss of home, life, safety, income, and stability endured by those in Northern Japan.
In the first week of May, 2011, I started to add intense cardio-strength training into my routine of dance/dance practice/ and yoga. It is the difference this change made that I have felt as I run my hands along my body to check, test, explore….wonder.
I know that the workouts did more than build me physically. It was a way to stay emotionally stable. I needed to feel that I was in control of something after the trauma. The aftermath of the earthquake laid bare my vulnerability to nuclear contamination of air, water, and food as well as my lack of control over the earth I stand on. I felt my smallness in comparisons to governments, embassies, and regulations. My body seemed to be what was left to me.
I became more focused on my food and my water, for obvious reasons. I’ve been cooking for myself, with a solid grasp of nutrition and taste, for over a decade…which helped as I scanned daily government charts for cesium counts and made choices about my water and food sources.
I am thankful that I did have this body to repair within. My horrors were external. I don’t know where I would have turned if it were my body that were the source of the trauma as it must feel with a severe illness or injury. I haven't struggled with those I am thankful.
I can’t always write at my pinnacle. I can’t always dance at the zenith. To do either can be to stand naked and alone in the face of your emotions and experiences. There’s a reason it’s a peak, you can’t always be balanced on the narrowest point. It comes with dangers.
I wrote volumes in the weeks after the quake…and then I was quiet. I reduced my writing because I’d reached a point of diminishing returns where the healing rewards weren’t large enough to justify the pain of the process. I was also entering a severe depression. Still, I never stopped reading and thinking. I fed the body of my words even as I allowed my writing to go into hibernation.
I danced less. This reduction was not completely by choice yet it was tempered by the fact that I felt pre-emptive dread at what emotions dancing full-out would expose me to. I built my body through intense cardio and strength training, dance drills, yoga, seeing more shows and internalizing the inspiration and eating well. I did this all to have control over something, to be building something, with the dream of being able to feel free and vulnerable in movement.
I am writing this. There is a novel in my bag. My shoulders are sore from this morning’s workout. My desk calendar shows the dance classes I’ll teach this week. I have workshops and a show to attend this weekend and performances I am looking forward to in the near future.
It is spring again.