Curiosity and Courage

Dear Ones,

I am currently captivated by the book THE SPLENDID AND THE VILE by Erik Larson. It’s all about Winston Churchill and England’s defiance during the Blitz of WWII. Tonight we watched the film, THE DARKEST HOUR, which features Gary Oldman as Churchill during that same period of the war (roughly spring and early summer of 1940). Here’s what strikes me about Churchill: his utter fearlessness. In the book, you see him climb out on the roof of buildings during air raids to get a better view, for example. When the bombs started hitting London, after the Luftwaffe had cleared the airspace above, he walked around the neighborhoods that had suffered the worst of the destruction until the wee hours of the night, wanting to see the people, to comfort them and to kindle their courage. It should be noted that he was also sobbing openly. He was not a man afraid to express emotion. London, his beloved and historic city, was bombed for 57 consecutive nights. Can you even imagine the horror? This from Churchill, “We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.”

Friends, we’re at a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. The current political crisis is crazy and yet somehow, in the strangest way, I am comforted by reading this book. I spoke with a friend who brought additional comfort this week when she provided a new perspective on fear. She pointed out that curiosity is negatively correlated to fear. The part of the brain most responsible for our sense of curiosity is the dentate gyrus, a part of the brain’s hippocampus. Whereas fear originates in the amygdala. The hippocampus is involved in higher-level processing, so we can conclude that curiosity diminishes fear. Surely we’ve all felt this in our bodies at some subtle level, yes? Remember the felt sensation of fear or anxiety and then the shift that comes with getting really curious? Perhaps we’re well served by curiosity right now. How did our country get here? How did the people who stormed the capitol on Wednesday come to be motivated to do so? Where do we go from here? How can we help one another through these difficult times? What’s called for? How do we heal?

I have some recollection of a workshop with Kathy Altman years ago wherein we were encouraged to simply get curious about the dance; our body’s response to the music. No judgment. No hesitation. No resistance. Just curiosity. We danced the dance of curiosity and it felt divine. There’s a lot that’s “up” right now and, for me, the best way to get grounded is to move my body, to dance. Yes, ideally, I’d be dancing in person with you, but right now, I’m incredibly grateful to at least be able to see you and dance with you via zoom. All the stuck emotions in my body get loosened when I dance, which makes room for clarity of being, which makes room for calm, which makes room for contentment. Yes, my beautiful dancing friends, we can reach for some level of comfort & contentment together. . . .even in these troubled times. . . . .with the dance.

I give thanks that tomorrow morning we’ll find ourselves on the dance floor in the very loving and capable hands of Davida Taurek. She’ll surely weave a soundscape that will soothe and support. Her words will be wise. And we can let go and be renewed in the dance.

Here's the link:

I found this on Facebook (thank you for posting, Julia Weaver, our fellow dancer) and wanted to share it with you:

The ancient Irish had a saying: 'You don't give a man a weapon until you've taught him how to dance.' In other words, a different kind of learning is required before someone can be truly trusted with social power and potent things like weapons. If a man does not know the wounds of his own soul, he can deny not just his own pain, but also be unmoved by the suffering of other people. More than that, he will tend to put his wound onto others. He may only be able to see the wound that secretly troubles him when he forcefully projects it into someone else, in forms of abuse or violence.

So in the old culture-making idea, in order to properly bear arms a person must first become disarmed, as in becoming vulnerable and connected to something meaningful and supportive of life. The idea of forging the temperament of young men took precedence over the idea of simply giving them weapons at a certain age. The tempering of the souls involved discovering what kind of anger each might carry and learning about the inner line where anger turned into blind rage. Becoming tempered also meant immersing in the sorrow of one's life and thereby being in touch with the grief of the world."

- Michael Meade

I’m hoping one of the three poems below speaks to you. We know Neruda for his love poems, but this one is much different in style and tone. Somehow, it bolstered my spirits. And I needed that tonight. Maybe you do too. If not, there are two other poems that might appeal.

Never Blame Anyone by Pablo Neruda

Never complain about anyone, nor anything, because basically you have done what you wanted in your life.

Accept the difficulty of improving yourself and the courage to start changing yourself. The triumph of the true man emerges from the ashes of his mistake.

Never complain about your loneliness or your luck, face it with courage and accept it. In one way or another it is the outcome of your acts and the thought that you always have to win.

Don’t be embittered by your own failure or blame it on another, accept yourself now or you’ll keep making excuses for yourself like a child. Remember that any time is a good time to begin and that nobody is so horrible that they should give up.

Don’t forget that the cause of your present is your past, as well as the cause of your future will be your present.

Learn from the bold, the strong, those who don’t accept situations, who will live in spite of everything. Think less in your problems and more in your work and your problems, without eliminating them, will die.

Learn how to grow from the pain and to be greater than the greatest of those obstacles. Look at yourself in the mirror and you will be free and strong and you will stop being a puppet of circumstances because you yourself are your own destiny.

Arise and look at the sun in the mornings and breathe the light of the dawn. You are part of the force of your life; now wake up, fight, get going, be decisive and you will triumph in life. Never think about luck because luck is the pretext of losers.

Capturing the Wild Horse of Courage

Tell me how to overcome this fear And I will listen and memorise every word. Point to me the easy solution But remind me that all great things need courage. I am afraid of rejection, Please say that I might be missing True love And that access to happiness is not given with out a struggle. Convince me to hear the weak voice inside me And not the loud one that is always there, Help me to become a better listener of myself. Protect me from comments that I really don’t need to hear, Teach me not to be influenced By people that are more willing to judge Than understand, Take my hand and lead me to the pathway That deep inside I know I should follow. Blow courage into my face Until I open my eyes..

Ivy Christou

Hope” is the thing with feathers - (314)

By Emily Dickinson

“ Hope” is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -

And sore must be the storm -

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -

And on the strangest Sea -

Yet - never - in Extremity,

It asked a crumb - of me.

Sweet Dancers, “blow courage into my face until I open my eyes”. . . .oh, but that is a beautiful line and a wonderful invitation. I hope you find peace and comfort in the dance.

I send you love and the wish for healing of this troubled country.



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