I don’t mean something you’d like to have happen to you, like ‘win a million dollars.’ I’m thinking about something in the realm of action – a desire that you might actively pursue. What do you really want out of life?
If you’re like me, you’re probably getting ready to roll your eyes right now. Is this going to be one of those motivational messages, “law of attraction” nonsense? Fear not. I’m not interested in spiritual ideas unless they hold some tangible reality for me. And the truth is, we all have strong desires, which affect our lives in a variety of ways (not all of them beneficial), and it’s worth your while to pay attention to your desires and how they affect you.
Desire is the origin of creativity. This feeling of wanting to do something. This is chesed, the first of the seven mystical atributes which I am taking on (in a hopefully demistifying way) in this series of blog-posts. Usually translated as “lovingkindness,” for my purposes here it is perhaps better described as the outpouring of passion.
Passover begins tonight, and I, like most Jews around the world, will be sitting down with family and guests to discuss the mythic liberation of our people from slavery. We’ll use ritual and conversation to explore the idea of liberation in the text before us, in the world around us, and even in our own lives. Amid the joys of food and family, song and conversation, I am always struck by the way in which the central theme of the holiday mirrors the work I do every day as a Feldenkrais teacher, as I help my students free themselves from the compulsions of their habits and the limitations of their own self-images.
This year, the student I am thinking of most is me.
Have I lost you yet? Don’t I teach some sort of movement-improvement method? What does this Jewish holiday and these abstract ideas of freedom and self-image have to do with learning to move better?
We musicians tend to think of making music as inherently strenuous. That the way to musical mastery is paved with hard work.
We train through countless hours of solitary practice. We drive ourselves to do better, never accepting ‘good enough.’ We know we should be relaxed as we play or sing, but our tight shoulders, sore necks and tired backs tell a different story, even if our fingers or lips seem as nimble as can be. Like athletes, we drive our bodies to the limits of our ability, to do essentially unnatural things. We hold our breath and grimace with the emotion of the music we are expressing, because otherwise, why bother? How can I express sorrow or suffering if I don’t feel it myself?