Wednesday, May 4, 2016

the self / the body and Nietzsche

Nietzsche writes a lot about how there is no difference between self and body, and as soon as you attempt to differentiate the two, you sever the understanding of each. Our spirit, the formation of self, is never outside of our human experience. Ten years ago, one of my favorite meditations was on the why of Nietzsche. Why did Nietzsche force himself to write, when writing was a major torment of his extreme neurological illness? I guess the only answer, probably, is that he knew he was doing something that mattered, despite the risk. I go back and forth on the idea of it mattering to him, or him knowing that it would matter to the world. But in the end, those details are not the catalyst. The catalyst is his confidence in the task itself; that's the proof of action. That's the action without hesitation, no matter the risk. 

Last May, I started an intense study of the body because I wanted to be a better writer. I thought that if, for a while, I could meditate on the relationship between mind-body-spirit, using myself as a test subject, then I would write the self differently, and possibly understand the relationship between other encompassing trinities.

Yesterday afternoon, after living on a plateau for months, I finally figured out the language for what I was doing, which lead to the gained knowledge of how to execute a sissonne fermée. It isn't so much the jump, but the transition from meditation to action that taught me a lot about the relationship between self and body. It's taken me a year to even name this jump, differentiate it from movements that seem incredibly similar (the glissade, for example), and then gain the ability to execute it. But this whole year, it's been the one movement that's taken me out of allegro combinations with the rest of my class.

As a kid, I would take on the most ominous stunts in gymnastics without ever thinking beyond how many steps I needed to take before beginning a pass; I only ever considered if I had enough physical space between where I stood, and where the cinder block wall stood. Maybe, possibly, my coach would describe the action, pulling her shoulders and arms around, pretending to be upside down. As a kid, that was enough. I totally fell a lot and landed on my head a decent amount of times, but never anything more serious than a sprain. 

And it's because I always knew that the girls who really got hurt were the ones who hesitated, the ones who were scared.

I really forgot that, until yesterday. As a kid, I did the same thing I do now: I obsessively studied gymnastics; I attended meets most every weekend, and I read biographies on Marie Lou Retton and Nadia Comaneci, nonstop. And then I'd write about all of it. I'd write plays where Mary Lou Retton and I were best friends, and we would just rotate who got the gold, and we would always be happy. And whenever I was in the gym, I always thought about going to the Olympics, and how neat that would be. 

My whole life was the action between study, fantasy, and reality. Much like it is now. Exactly like it is now. There are very few differences between these selves; there are no selves. There are no past selves. This emphasis on not being who I was before, and tomorrow's a new day is the real destructive force. I'm still that same eight year old with the same strong legs and ink marks all over my left hand, running full force in one direction. And what progression could possibly ever be more natural than that?

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