Nothing.

In pole class right now I’m trying to learn how to slow down.

That’s not entirely true, more like, I’m trying to learn how to do nothing. And not just for a brief, sexy pause or something, like… nothing. Then more nothing. Then more nothing…In front of people. 

Apparently, my body wants it. 

Uch! Am I even allowed to do that? To just gorge on laziness? Waiting, waiting, holding while everyone watches me? Isn’t that like, selfish? Or boring? Or selfish and boring? Doing nothing when I know how good I am at doing a lot? That sounds annoying. 

I mean, S-Factor, is this perfect place. Where my body is supposedly allowed to do absolutely anything for absolutely any amount of time, and everyone has a responsibility to lose their minds over it. Joining the studio was effortless. Most of my three years there have been effortless. But there is this one color that emerges out of me like, 15% of the time, that I flat-out cannot make room for. It’s the, “I’m tired.” The “come to ME. I’m not going to you.” 

Which is different than the “come to me because I demand it!!” or the “come to me because you know you’re dying to!!” Those are fun.

This is: ”Come to me, because I feel so fucking good exactly where I fucking am and I will not allow myself to move just because you’re watching me.”

Yeah, it’s terrifying.

I am TERRIBLE at saying yes to it. 

And I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse. I mean, if I can’t demand space for nothing now, how will I ever do it later when I have a socially-mandated responsibility to never chose nothing again? Like… when my someday maybe hypothetical child wants for anything!? I mean, Motherhood is out there! Somewhere! Just waiting, for me to be ready to never have “nothing” again!

After class, I went on a walk to Trader Joe’s to mull this all over/pick up some food for lunch/linger a little longer in the drunken, nothing-buzz I always leave class with, and I noticed, as I tripped along rather quicker than I wanted to, that the world was just so quiet. So quiet on a Wednesday afternoon. Just so unbelievably quiet and full. Like, this insane, buzzing, immoveable force. You know those moments when you swear you can actually hear the Earth moving? Like that. It was screaming.

It’s like I forget to remember that all my crazy doesn’t extend past my skin most of the time. I’m so in it, that I forget the world just continues. Slow. …Lingering. Waiting, waiting, holding. Grinding forward, waiting for me to notice that it’s always been this slow, and I’m the one whose been running so quickly. On the sidewalk I slowed down to try to join it, but felt that same quiet panic. Is it allowed? Is it okay? Am I going to die here if I stop and just listen?

I wonder if we always feel thrust into action when attention is turned to us, like I do in class that 15% of the time. My sister tells me she is so exhausted sometimes by human interaction that she only really feels herself when she is absolutely alone. She needs it every couple days, or she’ll be crazy. She needs to be alone just so that she can do nothing. 

The hardest part of any acting job is when the camera is pointed to you and you’re only supposed to listen. It feels like there’s no possible way you’re interesting enough, staring at someone and not moving your face. It’s just like crouching on the ground in front of a class and not moving your body while a song plays in the background. I don’t want to be caught dead doing either. 

But when I remember about the Earth turning and everything, then I realize that I probably have to be caught dead, since I’m willing to bet that there is no way to make myself want to go faster when deep down I want to go slower. Those feeings tend to stick around until we finally listen to them, right?

So now I get to say:

"Welcome. I have room for you here, boring, tired, Sascha. There is space for you to claim a spot on the floor and sit in it until you are ready. We will watch you sit in it. We will not complain. We will watch you do nothing, until you are ready to do something else, and we will cheer."

Yeah, that sounds pretty terrible. But gloriously, this decision isn’t mine to make, only mine to accept. Oh, life. But at least it’s simple, even if it’s icky. There’s only one thing to do. Get out of the goddamn way and go be boring. 

I wish I understood why this part of me is in here. Maybe to connect me to the Earth that just keeps grinding forward in suspension, when I want to trip around 10 feet above it. Maybe to show me that there’s a rebel underneath there, who wants to bring this all to a screeching halt just because she can. The point is, I don’t know, but at least I’m learning now (28 years old!!) that discomfort is usually a huge signifier for work to be done. And as we’ve discussed, I love work.  

But even with perspective, It’s hard to leave the studio after a “so-so” dance like that. It feels icky, and un-solveable, and I start doing that projection thing where all the “beautiful!”s and “yummy!”s i heard from my classmates sorta fade into a blur I thrust aside out of stubbornness and all the “helpful” (“constructive” most call it) criticism (ughhhhhh) I hear is what I wear close to me like a big… heinous… criticism… sweater. I hear it, repeat it, agree, feel helpless, then after rolling around in the sweater for a while to somehow cathartically whip myself up into a frenzy about my own inadequacy, I become impotent to return to the good things they all said first. (Betrayed by the sweater. It happens every time). But my teacher did squeeze me at the end of today and say “I love you,” and even though the stupid part of me want to grumble that she’s obligated, I’m going to choose to believe that she really did mean it. I’m willing to bet she gives me feedback not because I’m disappointing and need fixing, but because I’m trying, and that makes people want to get in there and try with me. 

Yesterday, on set for a movie, and I met a priest named Father Mike. As we waited for “Action!” in the foyer of his church, we spoke about his parish. And during the two hours I spent chatting with him, the thing that struck me the most, was the massive, still, terrifying quality of his attention. He just watched me, and listened. Each time I spoke he waited, very still, for me to finish. He didn’t look away, or fidget, or think about himself, then when I was done, he considered, took a moment, and spoke when he was ready. And he when was suspicious that there was more for me to say, he waited for it. Left some air, and invited me to fill it. It’s what Marie Forleo calls the Intentional Awkward Pause. Making room for someone to continue, to answer their own questions, to fill in the blanks. Is there more? Are you sure? Are you not sure? I’ll watch that, too.  

I don’t know if I’m ready yet to do that for my body. I’m clearly afraid of what is inside all that nothing. (What does it mean, that heavy yearning to wait? Why do I so desperately want a captive audience to kneel on all fours in front of, and receive patience from?) Or maybe I’m not afraid of what it means, I’m just afraid of being seen in such an obvious state of question mark about the whole goddamn thing.

The real leap of faith is probably believing that my classmates have it in them to wait it out with me. Like Father Mike. Because if that’s true then maybe I can find that patience, too, to keep showing up and turning my attention to the nothing.

Leaving some air…and waiting for my body to fill it.