17 December 2012

Me and Tina Turner

One of the first people to cross my mind this morning was Tina Turner. Today is my birthday and a residual feature of my former enthusiasm for the astrological zodiac is a short mental list of famous people born under "my" sign:  Beethoven, Walt Disney, Frank Zappa, William Blake, John Malkovich, Brad Pitt, Sinead O'Connor, Tina Turner and a few others.

I saw Tina in concert back in the 90s. What a performer! It's annoying to pay big money for tickets to a show and walk out thinking "What's the big deal? I'm as good at that as (s)he is."

No such annoyance after Tina's show. High high high energy! Non-stop intense engagement with audience. Slow song, fast song, didn't matter. She was "on" for the entirety of the show. Present.

When she danced like a wild woman
When she walked toward us and stood still
You felt her heart, her life force.
She was Present.

Presence is the bottom line and the first stop in much of my performance work. I design the playshops allowing lots of opportunities for participants to explore "presence". 

Presence is also central to most of the spiritual disciplines and traditions that have resonated with me over the years. I brand my work under the registered "Staying Awake" whenever I can. 

The breeze at dawn has a secret for you. Don't go back to sleep...don't go back to sleep.

When I sing that song, it is a meditation on "presence."


I passed through the kitchen earlier tonight. As my eyes fell on the the sink of dirty dishes, a yammering set up in my head immediately:  I don't feel like washing dishes! It's my birthday. I can do whatever I want. I don't have to wash them now. ..."

My attention shifted, without actually deciding to shift my attention, and I found myself walking to the sink and rolling up my sleeves. I was not thinking. When thinking resumed, it sounded like this:  Whoa! What just happened?! It's like I was sleepwalking. How did I get from over there to over here? How long was I out?

My attention shifted again. Away from observing my thoughts to the sound of the water running from the tap, and the feel of the scratchy side of the sponge on my palm, and my other hand searching underwater for the silverware...finding...a knife, the feel of the knife in my hand, the gleam of the knife when I pulled it out of the water...

I'd moved from compulsively thinking thoughts that had nothing to do with the real world (I was fighting against an imagined entity that demanded I do the dishes);

to thinking nothing while moving without awareness of my body;

to compulsive thinking with some body awareness;

to not thinking, with full attention on body and motion. I was awake and present to what I was doing without thinking about what I was doing. 

I felt more intensely, fully present than I ever remember feeling before. 

...At least I think that's what happened.

Or maybe I'm losing my mind.

When I thought about Tina this morning I wondered what she's up to these days. I looked her up on Wiki and saw that she is 73 years old. 

I haven't seen or heard anything about her in awhile. I like to think that at 73 she's pursuing other interests and relaxing, enjoying life outside the limelight. I'd love to meet her and hang out. Talk some and just be quiet some.