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The Edge of Art

I grew up dancing. I wasn’t very good at it, but I was head over heels for the artistry of somatic expression, even then.

I used to spend hours each day in the studio. My favorite class was stretch, jump, turns. I was good at the jump part, because of my unusually long legs.

There is one jump in particular that we practiced thousands of times - you do a little shuffle and then leap up and find the middle splits in the air, land gracefully, and carry on. At least some of us do.

For the first thousand times I tried it, I could only get my legs about 70% to 80% of the way up. Then for the following year, I stayed stuck at 80%, which appeared to be my destiny.

Then one summer afternoon, we were running across the rubber floor in the “jump” part of class. I did the little shuffle and leaped. To my shock, my legs flew all the way up, hitting a perfect middle splits. I couldn’t stop smiling.

So what happened?

Why had I spent the last year hitting 80%, and then suddenly shot to the real deal in one day?

What I see this as now is: the edge of the art.

There is a point when mechanics become useless. I had learned all I could learn from the mechanics of training alone, and reached a plateau.

My external experience showed no signs of progress, but behind the scenes, deeper layers of self were conspiring together, skillfully rearranging patterns in my tissues.

Every attempt to leap was a confirmation of my commitment to the path. And over time, I acquired enough energy to lift myself from the plateau to the next breathtaking mountaintop.

The experience of this kind of art is irreplicable. It is unique because the individual is unique.

The problem is that the plateau stops most people. It’s riddled with dissuasion; nothing appears to be happening; effort appears futile.

But the wise one knows: every action creates an effect.

Every time we show up for ourselves, we are proving our quiet, internal dedication to our innermost truth.

It is in these murky, exasperated moments of struggle that our resolve crystallizes. It is a commitment between the individual and herself. Only she knows when she’s giving her all. Only she knows how far she wants to go and why. And the results is 100% dependent on her belief & commitment.

These are the lonely spaces where the next level is conceived, where mechanics become art.

If I could give myself one piece of advice from past me to future me it would be this: Keep going. The plateau is not your destiny; it’s your launchpad.

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