One sentence from a poem written by Jack Gilbert keeps resonating: “I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, but just coming to the end of his triumph.”
I visualize him flying higher and higher into the vast blue sky towards the bright shining sun. His wings, huge and strong, reflecting the golden light. He is full of himself and convinced that he will reach the sun. There is a power rising from a depth within himself. The longing to reach that height had haunted him all his life. He has conquered the earth, and now he wants to conquer the universe – the ultimate challenge of flying with the stars and the moon and the sun. He has practised for many years; has grown in his body and mind; has gained knowledge of how the winds carry him without using too much effort; he has found out when is the right moment to take action and when to simply let go and let himself being carried by the currents. To reach the sun isn’t an easy task, but since he was very young the golden rays of the sun have fascinated him and attracted him like a moth to the flame. He couldn’t stay away – as soon as the sun was rising, he was the first one out there practising his skills: ascending, spreading his wings, letting himself fall through the air and in the next moment catching himself with an elegant loop which carried him right up into the sky again. When one observed him from below one could see his feather coat lighting up in golden brown tones like amber.
To see his fall from the perspective that he didn’t fail but was just coming to the end of his triumph, reminded me of the day when I walked out of a dance training one morning on a cloudy grey day in the city of Amsterdam, feeling that this is it – that I had reached the end of an era. For a year – or maybe two or even more, I don’t remember so clearly now – I had been very dedicated, every morning following the dance technique training for advanced and professional dancers. Some of the locations where they took place were stunningly beautiful, an oasis in the middle of the city, a place where my soul could breathe. Especially one studio I loved very much. It was a healing experience just to walk into this space. The floor was white and it had a high ceiling which rose up into a dome. It felt like a temple; the light came in from above as well as through the big windows opening the whole front towards the canals. In the left hand corner next to the entrance stood a shining black grand piano.
I felt privileged to be able to join these classes; they were the highlight of my day and at the same time an ultimate challenge. One had to be able to pick up the combinations and exercises in no time. The lessons were given by one of my favourite dancers, a former member of the famous Batsheva dance company. I loved the style. It fascinated me to be able to change from a quality of determination and clear direction in the body and space, to letting go into softness, flow and melting into the earth, to flying through the space and in the next moment being suspended in the air spinning around my own centre. For a split second I could experience these highlights which lasted as long as a shooting star, giving me a glimpse of hope that I could maintain the speed and brilliance of these movements. Soon enough I came back to reality and found myself struggling to keep up with the group. But those moments of success kept me going day after day, month after month. I was addicted; I needed to feel my body moving, being inspired by the music and the rhythm and feeling that I am part of a group of like-minded people. And somehow I had to follow this longing to accomplish an impossible task: to perfect my technical skill as a dancer.
One day after being dedicated to this mission for all this time, something happened. It was like a switch turned off inside me or a string of my precious instrument snapped and I could not hear the tune anymore. I left the studio and never went back. That’s it, I have done it. A deep acceptance started to spread within myself like water silently overflowing the edge of the shore, pouring itself into the landscape of my soul. I had come this far and now I felt strongly that it wasn’t what truly made me happy anymore. It was a moment of revelation, a moment of facing the truth.
So I can ask myself the question: did I fail or was it just the end of this chapter, and a new one was about to start? A new quest which would bring me closer to my heart and let the dancer I am be and share her dance with others, letting her shine and trust that many dances will arise in the right moment – dances of joy, of healing, dances of love and passion, dances of her soul.