Continuum: Be Still

the absence of movement or sound.

I hear the pounding of my heart, the raspiness of my breath, the saliva I swallow in a desperate bid to get some moisture in my parched throat. I hear the air around me move in my ears, its sound changing everytime I move. I cant help but be aware of the rustle of my clothes, the tinny beat of the music forming a rhythmical background and my body moves through space and time, of its own accord.
 “Dear god, cant that child sit still for two minutes.”
“What do you feed her, she has so much energy?”
“You are supremely hyperactive aren’t you?”
“You are constantly bouncing off the walls!”
“God, the inside of your head must be a technicolour movie.”
For as long as I can remember, I have been moving. And moving fast, running, jumping, leaping, turning, ducking, somersaulting, rolling.
Imagine one of those fast moving chase sequences from an action film, where the hero and the villain are “parkouring ( is that a legit word?)” their way, through a beautifully set montage, aesthetically captured by an ace cinematographer. That’s ME, moving through life except, the montage is not always beautiful, nor is it always aesthetically captured in my mind. I guess most of you can relate.
I have always had a deathly fear of stillness. Of not doing anything with my hands, legs, mind, body. I used to equate stillness with death and death is one of my biggest fears. What if my time comes to a close before I do everything that I want to do, see the world, experience life to the fullest?

By chance, I happened upon the Tao Te Ching and started reading it. I saw this quote, “Be still, Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity” by LaoTzu and was intrigued. Now, here was this ancient philosopher, whose very existence is half myth, and constantly debated upon, who had written/compiled all these words about the self, our inherent nature, awareness of the self etc. But these were all paradoxical, unconventional, left to the reader’s perception.
I read the Tao as much as I could, and then it receded to one particular corner of my mind, as life took over. Yet this particular quote stayed with me.
I decided to try it with what I know best – dance.
A fast-moving routine – running and jumping and melting and falling an turning and sliding, then a sudden slow down (this in itself was hard), and then complete stillness – in the middle of a piece.
I still heard my heart pounding, my breath rasping, air whooshing, the rustle of my clothes, the music rhythmically challenging me to get moving. But as I struggled mentally to stop my limbs from twitching, I felt my blood and my energy distribute slowly through my body like one of those alien takeovers, where the substance just slowly encompasses the whole being. One of the final scenes from the movie, LUCY, comes to mind.
In that moment, I knew how powerful stillness was. Because without that moment of stillness, when everything reduces to that pinprick of light inside us, we lose our momentum to start again. Stillness gives us that perspective, that control, a moment to catch your breath and that practical ability to pace yourself before you move again.
Its like that moment when you are on stage, in the darkness, right before the lights come on, and the music starts playing. You take your place, your heart is pounding, there are butterflies in your stomach, your mouth is dry, and your legs feel wobbly. Then the stillness overtakes you, brings your intention into sharp focus. You close your eyes, take a deep breath and start moving.