When I was young I spent more time around animals than people. Animals are interested in movement and I don’t know if I started out being as interested or learned from them – doesn’t really matter, I credit the cats and dogs and horses of my youth as well as the turkeys, geese, chickens and even the animals who preyed on them who were so still until they were in motion.
I learned to trust play, to look for the confidence it took to concentrate and respond. Now I have names like improvisation, but as a child I watched the cat, the fox in their concentration, the birds in the river banks making nests and feeding young. They had a concentration and purpose I found lacking in the adults around me.
Our dog Jules is a very large greyhound. When he runs within an enclosed space he looks awkward, legs all agaggle, tail and shoulders at angles. But when he has the chance to stretch out, he works through the awkward to the astonishing. As he runs his body stretches out into the most graceful arcs, he covers enormous ground.
In my youth I challenged my friends to stretch out, to jump – into the river, over hurdles set up in the halls of my parents house. Racing on foot or on a horse, as long as I am outside boundaries I am graceful, I feel graceful. Inside boundaries awkwardness takes over, rules don’t bend the way my body/mind bends, clarity gives way to restriction.
So it is in every moment. My relationship to boundaries defines my grace.