Friday, February 26, 2010

Evolutionary Dance

I've pointed readers to Heron Dance often since beginning this blog. I love the publication because it underscores the impossibility of life without art.  Or,  if not the impossibility, certainly the tragedy of attempting to live life without the power, emotion and soul of art.  I'm learning that all worthy endeavors result from a place best understood by the canons and dimensions of the artistic.  Whether building a building, crafting a healthy organization, organizing a community or working on an essential relationship, the spirit of art must be present for success to be realized. 

What follows is lifted from the December 2009 issue of Heron Dance:  A Pause of Beauty:

The one universal ever-operating law throughout has been the law of change. Nature never stands still and never duplicates herself. Life is always in the process of becoming something else.
- Laurence M. Gould

Bob Dylan, in the documentary Martin Scorsese made of his life and music (No Direction Home), says that an artist always has to be in the process of becoming. Once an artist has arrived, is no longer evolving, he or she has run out of the juice that makes their art worthwhile. An artist needs to be exploring change, exploring the edges of his or her comfort zone, the edges of some imaginary world where dark confronts light, where scariness and beauty mingle, where demons and gods dance.

I don’t do HERON DANCE to shake people up, to upset people. I’d rather be controversial than boring, but I’m not controversial for the sake of being controversial. I’ve embarked on this journey in life. I’ve taken risks—hopefully not too many foolish ones—but I know that I’m going to stumble and get shaken up and hurt. I don’t do it with the intention of getting hurt, but I know I will. It’s a given. People who come along with me might bump up against things they’d rather not bump up against, but that’s just the way it is when you explore the possibilities of life.

A full, alive, adventurous life is a life lived as a creative endeavor. Creative endeavors evolve. HERON DANCE was different fifteen years ago than it was ten years ago, and was different a year ago than it is now, and will be different again a year from now. It has gone through brief periods of homeostasis—generally periods when I was overwhelmed by the administrative aspects of what we do here—but they’ve tended to be brief and followed by periods of dramatic change. If HERON DANCE goes through a prolonged period of sameness, I hope I’ll have the courage to dig a hole and bury it.

I offer these thoughts partly in response to the emails and phone calls we’ve received from people who don’t like our recent changes. I’ve gotten letters like that ever since I started HERON DANCE. We’ve lost some subscribers as a result of our changes over the last fifteen years, but I’ve not let it bother me. On some journeys there are advantages to traveling fast and light, and there are advantages to not getting too bogged down with what others think. People who want to live safe, secure lives within narrowly defined limits have got a huge array of books, TV shows and commercials and other places to turn to that will reassure them that they’ve made the right decisions in life. The places and people and bureaucracies and groups and organizations, and all others who see the world in black and white, who have all the answers, who are afraid of life, don’t need HERON DANCE. Or if they do, they are not aware of it and I’m not in the conversion business.

I’d rather offer support and encouragement to those who do decide to embark on the journey, on the lonely exploration of inner worlds, on the trek out along the scary boundaries of life. The people—the seekers I meet on the trail whom I’ve never met before and may not ever meet again—together we build a fire and share a meal and a bottle of wine, and tell of what we’ve learned in life. Some of those impressions are shared, and some are divergent, and when we hug and part, it is the divergent views that we’re both richer for.

And sometimes, just sometimes, we don’t part ways, but stay in each other’s lives, and if we come to love each other, we add a whole new understanding of what it means to be truly alive.

I sing the body electric,

The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,

They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,

And disrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.

Dear comerado! I confess I have urged

you onward with me, and still urge you,

without the least idea what is our destination,

Or whether we shall be victorious, or utterly quell'd and defeated.

- Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

In celebration of the Great Dance of Life,


Anonymous said...

What changes have you made that have caused you to lose subscribers?

Larry James said...

Actually, if you read again, you'll note that this essay was written by the editor of Heron Dance and not me. I've not made any changes on my blog. I think he may be referring to his commitment to be more exploratory and more honest in view of the journey of life that he's currently pursuing.