Thursday, October 4, 2012

Elder Dancer Wisdomosity: The Purpose of Witness


One of my Elder Dancers came back from a trip that included a family sort of celebration.

When she returned, she told me that she walked into this large room filled with people who are "supposed to" love her and she didn't feel like a single person really looked at her or really saw her for even a moment.

She sat at a table with these people and tried to talk to them about her love of dancing, and she said they all just stared but didn't respond and then went right back to what they had been talking about.

She was invisible and she felt it profoundly.

Women in this culture become more and more invisible as we age.  I feel it happening already.  (Do you have experiences with this?)

But a lot of us, especially women over 65, have lived almost their whole lives with some level of invisibility.

"Women's work" is not "important work."

Motherhood, rather than creating large communities of helpers, now tends to create isolation.

We are a 51% minority: our voices, for the most part, unheard in the political arena. (The number of laws being passed right now that prove disdain for and downright hatred of women takes my breath away, and that is why the studio will be participating in this event in February.)

And worst of all, we are each others' worst enemies most of the time, doing the hate work ourselves: bullying, belittling, berating each other for our weight, our hair color, our choices as if we are all still 13 and battling for Queen of the Clique.

But there is always hope.

My Elder Dancer told me that when she comes to class, she is looked at.  She is seen.  She FEELS seen.  She feels REAL.

She is witnessed.

And this is such a large part of WHY Girl on Fire exists and it is totally why it is a space for women only.

If you want to see what I get to see every day on people's faces as they are truly, deeply, lovingly looked at by another human being, go to this flickr stream from the Museum of Modern Art where this artist sat in a chair opposite an empty chair, where strangers could sit for as long as they wanted and just been seen.  A photographer took a picture of every single one of them, and this time, my breath was taken away from the love and not the hate.