Jo is an artist, performer, maker, and a gardener.
We have one body.
I’ve always been a physical person – dancing, moving, gesturing and expressing myself through and with my body has been my first language and later from the age of 19, a livelihood. Now aged 50 it’s changed again and I’m trying to be a friend to this new version of me.
As a female professional dancer there’s been a sense that my body doesn’t always belong to me. It might belong to choreography, a choreographer, oftentimes a man, so to learn to move, take ownership of my body and dance for myself feels radical. So here it is, trying to shift from “because someone’s told me to do it” or “I’m supposed to do this” or “I want to improve my waistline” – to something light, effortless, in its own time and the impact is instantaneous.
I’m not a “gratitude” kind of person but I’ve noticed how I’ve now put my health and happiness further up the list of stuff to do. Then everything else becomes more possible. Pain can diminish how we feel; it can stop us from even beginning to get a handle on how to get through the day. Pain is bandied around as something that has currency, “no pain, no gain”. Who are we competing with? I disagree.
I move and dance for pleasure, but even before that it’s about making time and space to hang out with our bodies, ourselves, put on some music, be in the moment, look at the sky…close our eyes and imagine…..
Is it a kind of daydreaming? What I realise is if I take off the pressure of how this should look or what I’m supposed to be achieving, I achieve so much more. To begin a journey of power over pain makes our day, it makes our week, it makes our life.
Some of it is so simple: sleep, water, nature, learning, making, creative problem solving, social occasions, food that isn’t simply about balancing carbohydrates, fats, proteins…what if the food we put in our bodies inspires us and makes us feel alive?
I realise none of this actually is simple, there are barriers to everything. Yet reigniting our patience…what would it take to become more compassionate with ourselves? What would the outcome of working on our relationship with our body be? Giving energy and soft attention to what’s possible rather than what’s problematic?
Rotating our wrists, putting on a timer for 15 mins of breathing where the arms can get involved, and ribs are allowed to expand or sigh…does this sound all too crazy that rotating our wrists or massaging our hands has meaning? Maybe this is about a state of mind Stress is everywhere. Often we’re not even aware of the things that put fuel to the fire of stress. Stress doesn’t even have to look stressful these days; it could be just there all the time.
What are the solutions?
Some kind of positive selfishness?
Finding people, we like to be with?
Remembering what we are passionate about?
I know for me it’s the sun. Spring helps a great deal, gardens, the sea, wise and lived-in people, lunch, dinner, singing, sharing…. I’m so interested in changing how we are schooled to serve a system that doesn’t really consider that humans need so much more than the basics.
A question I’ve been hanging out with for a while is:
What do I need?
Probably at first glance most of us are all in the global chase for security, food, warmth, shelter… world peace. When people talk about care it’s so bereft of what real care looks like.
So, what do I need?
Friendship? Trust? Space? Trees? Beauty? Inspiration? To pretend? Dancing doesn’t need to look like dancing.
Dancing is like the brain pretending to the point that it becomes real.
Jo Fong is a Creative Associate at the Wales Millennium Centre
Find out more about Jo www.jofong.com/news