(Disclaimer: the term “movility” here is used tongue in cheek, and is definitely not intended as a lexical solution.)
Evolution doesn’t stop as you go from flexibility to mobility.
The ability to actually move into, out of and around a position, not just in one or two scenarios but within a variety of scenarios, from a variety of other positions, across a variety of speeds, etc, is a higher level yet (shall we say… “movility”).
This perspective is less about the position itself, and more about what it connects to. You don’t get there by hyper-focusing on the element itself, by sitting and precisely articulating a single joint or pattern over and over… instead, you need to actually connect the pieces, and with variety.
You need to attack the position not as a “bridge” (a stretch of territory between two other territories), or God-forbid, as an “island”, but as a flexible “nexus”, capable of closing and opening in any direction, at any time, for any purpose. In a way, this de-emphasizes the position, and puts the attention on the system as a whole.
This is uncomfortable for us. We’re so attentive to the party tricks that we’ve become accustomed to looking for the obvious, and what’s more obvious than a snapshot in time? What’s easier to see than the position held? To see the contortionist achieve a position and hold it just long enough that our eyes can digest the most easily digestible of movement characteristics, and then move on, before the banality of position-fetishism rises to the surface of our consciousness.
The higher level is to blend…
not just to toss some ingredients together into a salad, but to homogenize a mixture, so that nothing seems separate. By destroying the acting philosophy of the party trick, and instead looking after the quality of the connectiveness. Here, we don’t see contortionism, but instead breakdancers, capoeiristas and traceurs. (But as Guatarri/Deleuze point out regarding any evolved form, these are quick to calcify and devolve).
While mobility work can be great for addressing weak links, often the weak link (from the perspective of the big picture) isn’t the mobility itself, but the connecting of the pieces. Because this sits one-plus conceptual level(s) above mobility work, it’s a bit more complex and ends up neglected – there are too many gray zones. It’s easy to create one or two connections to a position, but how do we OWN the position- connecting it to everything else?
This idea means we need to go beyond the muscular and connective tissue components; it’s not enough to think in terms of the chassis here. Instead, we go to the wet-ware – the basal ganglia and cerebellum, to the movement pattern processing functions, where context defines what we look for, and what opportunities we can carve out from the scenario.
And then, when you’ve gotten to this layer, it’s necessary to make the jump again. To integrate one level above…
This kind of approach shows up in a movement practice, but NOT in a mobility practice. Don’t get stuck combining a “mobility” practice and a “strength” practice and an “acrobatic” practice… Become the unified field phenomenon – evolve into a movement practice.
(And then, when you’ve gotten to this layer, it’s necessary to make the jump again. To integrate one level above… And no, I’m not repeating myself here.)
I find my way past the tourists, to where the locals gather – where children engage in the purest kind of play as mothers watch, and the men work on boats and other contraptions.
As I sit before the water, as it laps against the sand, it doesn’t feel real. Rather, it seems behind a curtain. This isn’t a new feeling; whenever I try to turn to the sensory world it seems inaccessible, especially the shore with it’s shimmering. Inevitably separated…
But I think I found the brick. I dig my hands into the sand, and let it brush my nails in the way that usually disturbs me. And for a moment, it makes sense, the visual is virtual and the tactile is real, and I’m inside my body for half the half of a half of a moment.
Why? The first question, the last question. Maybe the worst question, or the best.
Sometimes we turn the gun on movement – “why move?” “why a movement practice?”
That meaninglessness we tremble before… it’s a bogeyman, an illusion. Like phantom pain, a confluence of inputs misinterpreted. A self-induced vertigo, you spin yourself around, then curse at a dizzying world.
A semantic mistake at times – we ask “why” on one level, but the answer we’re looking for exists at another level of analysis. Like trying to ask “why” we exist – there is a layer of evolution, of psychology, of astronomy, of chemistry, of physiology… All contribute, from a different angle.
Sometimes, “why” is best answered by getting more specific, by approaching the problem more closely. Like when it’s time to get down to research, of movement or scientific or otherwise, but you didn’t narrow the field of inquiry, and you’re left battling vertigo. Inevitably, you confront a sense of simultaneous bigness and smallness that you want to run from. But… it’s a bogeyman. Get a little closer, shine the flashlight from the right angle, and you see it’s a mirror reflecting your own emptiness.
And sometimes, it’s best to answer “why” with more work. You’ve asked enough, and the truth doesn’t need more answers. We don’t always need to get closer and closer to some holy grail of an idea, to just the right conceptualization. In all probability, the ideas evoked today to protect yourself from the “why”-monster won’t even serve the same function…
I can’t answer “why”. But… I do know that if I were stuck in a cave with a book for the rest of my life, I would read it over and over again. And we have something infinitely more complex than a book, with infinite more possibilities – our bodies. A small group of humans stuck in the cave would find inside a movement practice a great sense of meaning, in the form of something to keep growing around, to keep struggling with, to keep developing through. It would be a reason to organize yourself as a community.
Guess what… we ARE a small group of humans stuck in a cave.
The toys we outgrow,
Until we’re left with the one
That will outgrow us
Ideas come and go
As we grasp rung after rung
In pursuit of some common denominator
The thing that doesn’t change
We hammer and chip away,
to reveal ourselves
The statue shrinks
And as dust
We are blown in the wind.
In adolescence, I put a lot of time and effort into trying to peek behind a particular curtain. Obsessed with the impression that something lies “behind” the world as we see it, beneath our every day perception, I sought through various means to pierce the curtain.
Many of these efforts caused me to stumble into the curtain, wrapping myself up in a messy tangle of fabric, grabbing this way and that for sure footing, but never quite. I began to experience regular episodes of de-realization and de-personalization. These pseudo-psychotic experiences grew in magnitude to the point of overwhelming normal functioning when they occurred.
I would stare into this curtain until it would be willed away, but instead, my eyes would cross and I would panic. Despite the efforts, it remained, this sense that something sits between me and truth.
And it was in this protracted dark night of the soul that I began a long journey into my body. I thought I was pursuing one thing, but soon I realized… I was going after something else. In this body, I found a gate to the physical world.
I began to develop a different relationship to the world, one that felt… certain. Slowly, my eyes cleared up, and I saw…
there is no curtain. There is nothing between me and the world. There is just me, and the world.
and, of course… a curtain. An ever-present shimmer. I am it, and it is you, and we are beneath it, and on the other side as well. Like a half-sleeping being who stumbles upon a mirror and doesn’t realize, reaching our fingers to our own reflection…