Thursday, May 15th, 2008

The Weight of Perfection

My boyfriend has not been afflicted, as I have, with the disease of perfectionism. He is indeed an amazing human being, with superman-sized powers in many of life's important areas; he believes in excellence, but not in perfection. I've been steeping in his wisdom as I peel apart excellence from perfectionism, as they've been melded together in my mind for most of my life.

The dance performance ( is only a week away, and boy, we sure could use another week, which is always the case with performances. Regardless, I wake up each morning with a surge of adrenaline, out of a dream that would make both Jung and Freud proud – a dream that carries all the turmoil, doubts and vulnerabilities of each and every way I relate to dance. I am in a soup-pot, boiling off dance karma, as my boyfriend likes to say.

I think about next week, and am saddened and pained by the knowledge that it will not be perfect. I have invited openly and enthusiastically my community to this personal creation, and it is difficult to know I will not have perfection – or the pretense of perfection, or the hope of perfection – to hide behind.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be inoculated against this disease; I've been chasing after it as long as I can remember and haven't had a moment's peace or ease while doing so. I'll gladly trade up perfectionism for excellence, trade in perfectionism for rejoicing in what IS, peel off perfectionism for the simple nakedness of who I am.

Apparently the best way I could figure to wriggle my way out from underneath the oppressive weight of perfection is by burning, burning, burning.

This from a card, from my mother, wishing my luck with my dancer performance, which sets right again my relationship with dance:

Don't you
hear it?
she asked
& I shook
my head no
& then
she started to dance
& suddenly there was
music everywhere
& it went on for a very long time

& when I finally found words
all I could say was
thank you.

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Posted by LiYana at 9:35 pm  Comments Off on The Weight of Perfection

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Leave Some Room at the Table For Failure

I've been thinking a lot lately about giving failure a bit of a break.

As I mentioned in my last blog entry, I'm eyeball-deep in a creative project that has me, at each turn, face all the ways I am inexperienced, inadequate, lacking or failing. After some months of making myself wrong for not being experienced, adequate, fine and winning, I started giving some thought to why failure is such a scary concept and such a scary experience.

A friend said to me:

"Without the possibility of loss, there is no game. I am a poker player and I sure would like to win all the time. When I play no limit poker, there is always a time, often multiple times, when I have to go "all in". Sure I could lose it all. And HAVE. But, damn, it's such an incredible game. And I only have like 80-100 years to enjoy myself. I opt for a rich, full life. The only question is whether you will go for the whole pot or be deterred by your fears of loss. It's ok to be afraid. It's scary to allow yourself to be so fully vulnerable. You are doing it right and at the right speed. Trust your instincts."

And then, in a moment of clarity and brilliance, I said to another friend:

"I'd like to, in this body, in this lifetime, dance with all of it. Not worry whether am doing it right, growing, healing, or making art, or being happy; to let the sad, lonely and crimped up parts have a place at the table just like the glorious parts; to have them be welcomed and contribute to my sense of peace and rightness with my self
and my mind, not diminish it."

I'll leave it at that, and I'll leave some room at my table…

Posted by LiYana at 8:27 pm  Comments Off on Leave Some Room at the Table For Failure

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Running Uphill Backwards

Wow, I haven't written a blog entry in months! If there was an award for slackingest blogger, 'twould be mine. Somehow I just haven't felt like documenting my journey at all, and have just now made some sense of why.

I've been moonlighting with my former carreer as a modern dancer and have been working since February on creating a dance performance with four other dancers, custom-created music, set pieces on which we dance, costumes, lights, a small black-box theatre and a reception to follow. I thought it would be a fun lark, and a fun show in which I'd get to have a fun time dancing. What I created was not only the above, but another self-designed obstacle course, everywhere I turn is another former demon to face, everywhere another ghost of my dance past. I have to marvel at the intelligence, elegance and thoroughness of my design – it's been a non-stop test at every twist and turn, speckled with some quite wonderful and enjoyable moments, too.

I have a lot more to say about this, which I will in my next entry, but to explain this blog's title: a friend of mine emailed me to tell me about a dance show she created that will go up a few weeks after mine – and her title is thus: Running Uphill Backwards. Nothing could describe these last few months, except if I added in, Running Uphill Backwards In High Heels, With a backpack, Two Suitcases, Three Lunchpails and a Cellphone.

Somehow I have more of a sense of humour about it since I've named and identified the shape and scope of my hard time. It tends to work: when I know, ah! this is what's going on, this is why, this is how big and how long – then somehow I am able to relax into the painful, strange, uncomfortable and magical ride of it all.

Posted by LiYana at 7:03 pm  Comments Off on Running Uphill Backwards

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