Saturday, November 8, 2014

Memory and sensory awareness

It's time to leave NDEO 2014. #ndeo2014. The hashtag became a poignant piece at the conference, but this isn't a post about virtual space... more on that later. This is about reflecting and remembering and trying to hold fast to the memories and the moments and quickly file them into my tool box of teaching and learning and growing.

I want to remember the amazing conversation about Service Learning that I had with a new friend right outside of my presentation room. In order to do that, I remember my somewhat-bland-and-difficult-to-eat-with-a-plastic-fork salad. I remember shifting my space (defined by my things - my bags, my coat, my "lunch") closer to hers after a feeling of awkwardness and an acknowledgement that I wanted to connect but didn't want to invade her space. I go back to that feeling of slight insecurity. I am sitting and am at a low level - we both are - against the glass barrier that lets in the light through from the high windows. People walking are passing us by. But at this low level, I'm able to pull out my notebook and jot down her tidbits and suggestions for organizations to research.

I remember being excited and nervous and a bit flustered for my own presentation because someone else was excited about Service Learning.

I remember the strangeness of the chic couches - their deep backs with not quiet enough space to sit with both legs folded on the base, but deep enough not to allow me to sit up straight. You know - the kind of couch that forces one to slouch - especially painful for one whose body is trained to allow all of the curves of the spine to exist naturally.

I remember the darkness of the room around me and the three people standing in the front of the room. I remember my heart caving in my chest listening to the stories of the veterans they interviewed. I remember the emptiness of the room, yet the fullness with which the story of the presentation gripped me.

I remember my body feeling heavy, but my energy lifted in David Leventhal's workshop on Dance for PD. I remember the grip of the two hands that held mine in the reverance circle that closes every class. I remember the excitement of moving and the connection that the Dance for PD classes always brought me.

I remember the well-worn and walked carpet in the hallways between presentation sites. I remember the 15 ft ceilings and glass walls that opened up to the outside world - protecting me from the Chicago chill, but allowing me the space to think and feel that anything was possible, especially in this microcosm of Changing the World through Dance.

I remember the faces after our presentation on mindfulness and the kinesthetic gestures that performed what the dance teacher actually did in class as opposed to what she might do as she reflected on our suggestions.

As I shift in literal time and space, it's these memories of place, sight, feeling, sensation, and taste that will bring me back to the moments of the conference.

The airport is surprisingly empty for a weekend. As I travel to PA, the air quality changes. As I write this, the air feels more dense. Thick. Heavier. As it should - the Chicago air was dry and the PA air is full of moisture. What's more interesting to me is that my body notices the changes and is returning to sensory memory to process the events of NDEO.

These physical memories will allow me to return again, and reflect more critically on what I've gathered and learned. But, in this moment, my body is telling me that she needs some rest. Although I can't honor that request for too long, I do need to take the time. Thanks for taking some time with me.

What does your body remember?


  1. Conferences always offer the opportunity to connect, learn and grow. It goes by fast, and I love your thoughts about how you are trying to hang on to it all. :) I too am interested in service learning and have worked on several projects that involved this concept. It's a wonderful thing.

    So lovely to meet you. To connect. Looking forward to more!

  2. Thank YOU, Catherine! Yes, the conference will take some time and space to process and apply. I'm so grateful to have connected with you and look forward to more conversations and exploration about dance, service learning (!), and how it all intersects! Thanks for taking the time to read and respond!