Time stops, when you experience something which resonates to your deepest core, beneath your physical or mental self. Time becomes motion. Our heart is what perceives this motion, physically experiencing this swirling energy. This living dance is what we experience, and how we perceive this experience sometimes tells us more about the experience than however we, individually, interpret it. (alas, perception is reality...)
When the Whirling Dervishes of Rumi first came to Pittsburgh, I believe in 2003, I had my first lucid experience of this idea. Sitting nearly on top of the stage, I had an incredible view. And, at the start of the performance, I watched these dancers twirl. I interpreted the sounds from the instruments, tried to learn about this foreign music from the notes they played. I read the messages of Sufism and the explanation of the inundated symbolism. I was quiet, and observed.
At some point in the performance, I was no longer sitting, no longer listening and observing. I understood, without the words on the screen, without the program in my hands. I became aware of the dancer's feet, the sound they made while pivoting. I became aware of their breathing, their very muscles. The glances shared, if any physical glances were shared, were another form of language. But the words they spoke were quiet, understanding, more about training and strengthening than mastering or perfecting. They were individual glances, but one that everyone on stage seemed to relate to. They were made by one person, but they were made also by the person receiving the gaze.
The dervishes danced, to be certain, but they danced to find the way they wanted to live. The lived so they could experience this dance. They shared it, not to perform, but to share. To train and strengthen us to the task of living. So that our lives could be this whole, this pure of intent and purpose.
I don't remember the show ending, though there may have been some confusion about applause, being that we are trained to applaud at things that are presented to us. Perhaps there were some applause, perhaps not. I was, again, sitting. But still I was not. The connection they forged was intact, long after they left the stage. And all I could do was continue perceiving, without action or judgment, but with the senses that I was born into.
My senses owned me, but they gave me back everything I would ever need.
And what I saw, what I heard, what I likely smelled, was people. Though people perceived as drops of ocean: people moved, they moved together, they created a crowd that then became its own being. The crowd dispersed. The smell of the crowd lingered. The sounds I was hearing was the band, still on stage in some indescribable way, mixed with mettled voices that were also still beside me. There was one man who stayed beside me, perhaps waiting for my experience to conclude, perhaps out of his own traditions. I looked at him, I believe, and I saw him.
We were the last in the house, people had begun cleaning up: a new type of ocean, this more atomic and scattered. More chaotic and sparse. More "job to be done" and less "now we discuss what we've just experienced".
I wonder if I've ever discussed this experience with people. I feel like I must tell them the moment I meet them, in some base way. It has, obviously, become a part of me.
So, when I dance, when I sing, I try to share this. Sometimes my ego, my consciousness, they get in the way. Occasionally, they help. But I find, when I get off course, a mantra: "Let the beauty you love be what you do" (also a quotation from Rumi, the Sufi mystic). Since, or perhaps due to, the dervishes: I understand that beauty. I seek it whenever I am making a conscious decision derived from the direction my heart is pulled.
Sense of time becomes an imposed moment of reflection. The world says, "Hey! Stop and think about this for a while. We'll make up the time for you." Much like the way adrenaline can change your perception to help you avoid automobile accidents. Much like the way intuition often seems to be just a thought out of time.
The Dark Knight served me with an imposition. "Think about Chaos, and Order. Think about it how you always have, but this time have some words for it. Give it a face, and a name, and understand the distinction between the two. Give it character - and understand that Chaos and Order are interchangeable."
They are, ultimately, reliant on each other to achieve their goals. One only makes a goal to superceed the other, to cling to inspiration and inclination in the first place. They can easily take the populous into this ocean, the ocean which is ultimately one or the other.
Within the Dervishes, like any production I've been a part of, is a great, and simple analogy. Work for the show, the chaotic appeal of starting with nothing. Then take this idea, for the sake of those who will eventually see it, and begin another grueling task of making decisions, sticking with schedules, ultimately making order from chaos. The show becomes all that matters, the penultimate judge for all decisions. And, the show from this angle also includes the audience. Faces, expressions, reviews, this sort of thing all get tangled up in what it means to be a successful show. And, typically, this side is looking for success.
The other side is, typically, looking for devastation. They walk into the situation with a clear grip on reality, as clear as any other day, expecting to be entertained. Sometimes expecting the unexpected, but more often than not expecting to have a similar reaction to the person who told them they should be there (or, if they're expecting to be telling other people their reactions, they are expecting to be moved. Frightened, enlightened, or at least amused.) In either case, knowingly or not, people enter with a sense of control, and leave with a perception entirely different. The more successful the show from the first category's point of view, the more changed the later category upon leaving.
Chaos, with a vision, is lead into order by our actions and decisions. Control is, by nature, always shattered by such direction.
This is, however, simply the world that I live in. Perhaps there are places where human beings experience life without a duality: Without having to decide between hero and villain. Where going with the flow is based less upon human experiences and more by the shape of the world. I think this is why I dance, why I sing. Feed from the flow, be grace to the space we are given. This is what I believe.
It is also why movies with such strong and believable characters, in this case personifying characters personifying the elements of our zeitgeist, are so devastating, so successful at portraying their message, so time-stopping and heart-pulling. These characters are simply doing what they have to do.
This is only the surface of an ice burgh that has, again, infected my soul with a knowledge of the world even I myself cannot fully comprehend. Ultimatly, it has brought out another mantra: "Be the change you wish to see in the world". Since I cannot see the world as a whole, I can only change those parts which I myself am pushing and pulling on. I only know what I want around me, what I am drawn to, which is more descriptive of myself than any other concoction of the imagination.
Any individual devastation can easily break any individual. That is part of the nature of our fragile existence. We feel these things deeper than words, deeper than what we can fix with science, organized religion, language, or other man-made things. Because the fabric that is broken is not man-made. And while these man-made things cannot fix this fabric, it can lead us to the truth, lead us to the fabric itself, which is mended at the moment of our visit. If we leave, that tear can return, as it surely does. But the more time we spend within these folds, feeling the fabric, the more at peace we can become with these personal devastations.
Perhaps the end of the human world as we know us is looming. It certainly feels like it. But is it our attachment to ourselves and our culture, or the loss itself, which causes the devastation? Is it the chaotic nature of the world or our fine-tuned reality which will receive the hardest blow? Or doesn't it always come full-circle in the end?
And how, in the name of Hollywood, can a feature film tap me into Buddha's well? Believable characters, brilliant special effects, and a superbly developed plot line. Bravo to the entire production team of The Dark Knight. 10/10.
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