I’m sitting in my petite hotel room in Turin as I write this. Soon, I’m leaving on the train to visit a friend in Nimes. It has been an interesting week. I’ve been stuck in my motel, sick with a stomach virus, I’ve danced tango with friends I haven’t seen in months, and I’m in Turin where I spent a fair amount of time with my ex-wife more than 5 years ago. I have memories but they are all a bit vague. To me, it’s obvious I’m a different person than the one I remember.
Just before Christmas, while I was in Brussels, I moved this website, which was deleted last year, from wordpress to jekyll. In the process I’ve been cleaning house. I still have a ways to go. Videos are not working yet, and I still have some editing to do. The transfer is not fully seamless and automatic. I decided to start with my first post and go chronologically through each post.
A window with a view of a harmonious past with a tumultuous end
These posts are an interesting window with a view of the harmonious life I had then, it’s been more than 8 years now. Life was good. It was full, everything was harmonious and happy. Love, Work, and life in general were all in balance. Our tango classes were popular and full. The tango community was growing. I was practicing yoga, mountain unicycling and hiking several times a week, and I was in love. Life was full and positive.
It didn’t last. The last posts here are from 2014, when day to day life was taking more than it was giving. Rock bottom for me was 2 years ago, Christmas Eve. 24-12-2016. How I got there is not all that important. The past is past, learn what you can and keep moving forward. I embraced my studies in french and went. That was 2 years ago.
As I rewatched Hedy’s video from my first post. I was reminded about the things we accumulate in our being, our memories, our emotions, our learned reactions. This is the stuff that makes us who we are right now, in this moment.
An ill fitting suit, a polluted essence.
I had exchanged my “good suit” for an ill fitting one. I had accumulated a pile of negative things in my being, as Hedy puts it in her video The Power of Connection, my essence had become polluted. This new suit of mine was more like a straight jacket, my outlook was bleak.
I could still dance tango well, that was a different suit I used for dancing. At least I had that. But my daily life essence was not healthy at all. I would argue that even my tango suffered.
I’m doing well now, and I accept the uncertainty of my plans, I even embrace them. As I write this, my plans are changing, given another day or two I’m sure they will change again. But my direction is forward.
My life now is completely different and yet the same, I still hold the same values I always have, I still unicycle, do yoga, hike, dance and create. If anything I am more inline with my core values than I have ever been in my adult life.
My past is past, but depending on how we look at it the past and our perception or memory of it changes. It might seem a little Orwellian to rewrite the past a little, not to truly change history, but to change our point of view of it so that we can let it bring us positive emotions and memories if the way we remember our past is unhealthy for our well being.
I prefer to think of it in terms of quantum physics, I think Heisenberg would approve. Our memories are not exactly true anyway, they are only what we now percieve of what we percieved in the first place. Schrödinger’s cat is dead, err, maybe, it depends on how you look at it.
What we remember and what we don’t and how we remember it is always changing. We might as well see, remember and tell our story from a point of view that benefits us.
I have no illusions that my life is as uncertain as it always was. I’m en voyage a majority of my time, I still teach and dance tango, I’m still a systems developer, I’m a sculptor, and I’m always a student. Additionaly I now speak french, I’ve ridden my unicycle and my fixed gear bicycle in Paris, Bruxelles, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lyon and many other interesting places. Now I’m starting to learn other languages as I continue on this path that is taking me to places unknown. I accept that long term plans are an illusion to let us be more comfortable.
Use neuroscince to be happy.
There are a few basic things I think can help anyone rise from depression and to create a positive direction in day to day life. 8 years ago these practices were a natural part of my being and I’m happy to have them back. As always, these apply to tango as much as everything else.
There are a few things that neuroscience has proven to actually work.
- Be grateful and show it. Express your gratefulness to others anytime you feel it.
- Name bad emotions and feelings no matter how small, call them out, recognize them.
- Make more decisions! Don’t let your decisions be made for you. Choose!
- Touch people. physically, nicely, affectionately. Tango is good for that.
That might be all you really need, but I’m going to add a couple more.
- Take more risks. This is what lucky people do, it’s why they are lucky. Be lucky too.
And here’s another one that Hedy talks about. It’s also something that tango requires of us, without it tango would not be tango.
- Be present! In the moment and with others.
- meditate - it’s how to learn to be present.
Being Present can bring peace and joy.
Yesterday I had a fantastic morning walk around Turin just because I was completely in the moment. I didn’t have a thought in my head. I have a lot of memories here. I glimpsed a few of them, but the present was where I stayed. It was as if I was dancing a tanda with everything around me as my partner. The light was fantastic, the sounds, the smells, the sights, the feeling of the cobblestones beneath my feet. It was a magnificent morning by the grace of being present.
I’m ready for the next steps. My next immediate step, well, it’s a train ride through the Alps and across the Rhône to Nîmes, another beautiful city that I already a know a little. I’m not quite certain what exactly will happen after that. Although I have some ideas.
And now, because it’s such a nice video, here is the TED talk about relationships by Hedy Schleifer, The Power of Connection. It was the topic of my first post here on this website, The space between us and I think it’s appropriate that it is a part of my first post on this new website as I refind the peace I once had and take new directions in life, wearing my nicely fitted suit. One last thing, I am truly grateful for tango and the people that it has brought into my life. Thank you all.
The Power of Connection - Hedy Schleifer