Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why I Love My Elder Dancers

A phone photo but it's still powerful...

Though I may still have more realizations lined up at the back of my brain waiting their tun to reveal themselves, this little bit is the last of my official "list" from my trip to Kripalu.

As part of the training for working with special populations, we had to do practice teaches, of course. For this, some local elders were brought in to play.

After each practice teach, we would get my favorite sort of critique -- positive reinforcement notes.  One of the women in my group mentioned that she loved watching me take care of the elders, that I was different with them, more smiles.

I thought about this all day and that night we had a session where we sat around talking about what we learned, and it hit me that I had learned WHY I love my elder dancers so much.

Besides the obvious stuff -- they are adorable; they are brave; they are totally open; they are total inspirations to the max times one billion.

Besides all of that.

When I look at them, I also feel seen.

When I am with them, I do not feel like they need anything from me.  That we are there just being together.

I feel cared for.

Now, as the teacher, this is not my goal and it should not be the reason I walk into a classroom.

Far from it.  I should walk into the classroom ready to see my students, ready to give, ready to care for. That is my roll.  I love and accept that roll.

But with my elder dancers, including that lovely 80 year old woman in the photo, I get all this extra frosting on the cake.  And sparkling candles.  And balloons.

It certainly is a most amazing thing for the heart to hear a woman who is just, for the first time, truly connecting to her body, say to you, "Chris," (that's what older women call me...), "Chris...YOU are my priestess."

Indeed.

As someone said when they saw a photo of one of my Elders, "this is sacred work."

Yes, it is, and these women honor me by allowing me to do it.

POSTSCRIPT:  I wrote this post and scheduled it, and after it went up, I realized I hadn't really made my main point. Not blatantly.

As an aspie, looking people directly in the eyes can be a painful experience.  For neurotypicals, this may be extra hard to understand.

I am not usually looking people directly in the eyes even when they think I am. I cheat.

Even Marcy.  About a week before I left for Kripalu, we were sitting and talking and suddenly she said, "You are looking RIGHT in my eyes!"  And it was a treat for her.  Poor thing.

The issue is this:  For many aspies, looking people straight in the eyes overloads us.  It gives us too damn much information to process.  It is enough to try to keep track of our surroundings -- all the stimuli that is attacking us at any given moment -- AND the words coming out of someone's mouth AND their gestures AND...so much more.

Add the eyes to that and many of us reach an extraordinarily uncomfortable tipping point.

BUT ...

It is different with my elders, and I figured out at Kripalu that they have SOFT EYES.  Eyes filled with nothing but seeing me when they look at me.  Eyes not sending me too much information because they are simply, as I said above, BEING with me.