Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Vermont, and I drove down to Brattleboro to have lunch with friends. I arrived at the restaurant quite early and got too hot listening to the radio in the car, so I found a shady step to sit on and commenced enjoying the surroundings. Almost immediately I noticed a little green wormy bug flying down, probably from the tree I was sitting under, on an invisible thread. I watched it blowing back and forth in the wind for a while, until it finally landed on the pavement. To my delight, it started doing a very rhythmic dance that looked quite a bit like some of the moves from Friday's Zumba class, dipping first in one direction and then the other. It was amazing to watch, and to my anthropomorphic eyes it seemed as though that little bug was having a wonderful time.
I know that creatures on the lower tiers of the biological ladder usually have some survival or reproductive reason for everything they do, but I didn't see it eating anything, and there were no other little green worms around to be impressed by my little guy's prowess. I couldn't think of a single reason why it would be dancing except that it felt good.
This observation naturally started me thinking about how here at Green Mountain we are learning that what works best is to find physical activities that give us pleasure, that we want to do, and to enjoy moving our bodies more, as they were designed to move. And that got me remembering a dance center in Cambridge in the early 80s that was called the Joy of Movement Center. Apart from biking, there is no more joyous activity, for me and many others, than dancing. Any kind of dancing. Moving rhythmically in response to music seems to be a basic human drive. This little worm was telling me, or so I thought, that maybe that impulse went beyond humans. When humpback whales leap out of the water or slap their pectoral fins or tails, it looks to humans as though they are playing, and in fact, nobody has been able to figure out any more scientific reason for those behaviors.
During this past week, as I've been getting back to strength training and becoming generally more active, I've also become much more mindful of my body and how it feels in any given moment. Mindfulness is a key aspect of the program here, in all the spheres: eating behavior, physical activity, and all the psychological elements we deal with. I think I now understand more than before how being mindful of how I feel, even when that involves noticing aches and pains, is actually a powerful way of living in the moment and being/accepting who I am. I welcome that insight, and I think it will help me as I move forward.
I was feeling pretty happy about all these thoughts, as I sat there in the comfortable shade waiting for my friends, when I noticed that my little green friend was no longer on the pavement. I looked around and saw the worm back in the air, flying again on its invisible thread. It tried to land a few times, but never found a place to settle, until it finally came to rest and again began its interesting dance. As I watched, I suddenly realized that it was probably trying to get free of the thread so it could go off and conduct worm business. The dance that I had been interpreting as an expression of joy was also a technique for bursting out of bondage.
And I thought, yes, that's exactly what we are doing, too.
A hui hou.