I rock climb, and today I was at the gym traversing around the routes and I felt like I was wading through mud, pushing, sluggish. This is not a familiar feeling though it is one I have had before.
It’s not like I had forgotten how to move, nor that there were barriers there, it was simply that every attempt to move was an effort. And I don’t mean a physical effort, not by itself anyway. There was something happening in mind and body. Individually everything was working. I could grip the holds, feet weren’t slipping, I could see the next move, but it just didn’t go there.
Once out of the gym and back into the day that existed, the same feeling persisted. It didn’t matter what I was doing, whether it was a task, an errand, a household chore, or something for myself. Reading was labored, I couldn’t write a word, I tried to study up on the language I am learning, but nothing, nothing moved.
In the evening, I went with our two children to the skating rink and sat in the bleachers to watch all the children in their class on the ice. The music blared over the loudspeaker and the lack of synchronicity between the songs and the childrens’ movement struck me. Some moved awkwardly – stumbling, arms all over the place as they slid here and there, as they tried to twist and twirl. Others flowed with a grace but one that must have come from inside. There was no connection to the sounds that were in the air, at least not to my eyes and ears.
I closed my eyes and, almost immediately, Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” started to play. And as it did, I began to feel a change, my foot started bobbing, my fingers lightly tapping. Ever so gradually the rhythm started to infuse until I felt as if my whole body was swaying. This may well have been in my mind, but it was there.
And I wondered. What is it about the stimuli that exist around us? Why is it that it sometimes takes a certain something, a something that we cannot know beforehand to unlock the motion that exists within us?
And I thought about this in the contexts that I have known, where motion was all that existed, where there was a total immersion with the world that was there in those times, those moments. And I thought about this in the circumstances in which that motion, that all encompassing freedom to let go and just be, occurred again and again and again. Every time.
There is a subtlety here that is important to recognise. Such motion, and the exhilaration that accompanies it is overwhelmingly beautiful. But it is not just confined to the physical, for our minds can also “move” in ways where everything just seems to unite. And so, as someone whose life’s work has been focused on helping children learn, I can’t help but wonder what it is that can bring on such harmony of thought, where we see light where there might otherwise be grey. Where things that may be otherwise rationally or deliberately dismissed are recognised as something else.
I can never know, of course, for everyone’s “Rolling in the Deep” is different, and may vary depending on time and space, but it is there. And when we find it, we find something beyond our common experience, and if we embrace that and recognise what is gives us, that is something that changes us as people.