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¿Just Follow?

“Stop embellishing! Just follow me,” he said.

There's no “just” about it, buddy! Rewiring a response-oriented system to an awareness-oriented one is serious business. And although I want to do this nondoing stuff as hard and as much as I doesn't work like that.

It is possible people might say I am a relentless embellisher. I don't think I ever embellish, but you know how music is: it goes here, then it goes there, and then it goes boop-boop-boop and you go boop-boop-boop right along with it! Or it sweeps through the leader and then it sweeps through you and draws out its phrase, and it would be a crime against nature to do anything but stay with that music until its phrase is completed. So what if the guy has to stand there waiting.

Is that embellishing? Why is it that when the guy does something it's called “leading” and when the chick does something its called “adorning”?

Do nothing, says Pablo Verón. It's true...the minute you do, you disengage from whatever awesome thing is happening. You ruin it. But sometimes it's hard to know whether you're embodying the moment the way it must be, or if you're doing an adorno.

And I don't know about you, but I've had plenty of conversations with people who have nothing to say. Plenty of dinners opposite well-meaning people who run out of steam after “and I'll have the linguini.” By now I expect to be the only one talking. It's My Job to ask questions, provide anecdotes, present topics for exploration. If someone pleasantly surprises me by upholding their end of the conversation, fantastic! What could be more wonderful than a back-and-forth?

But the new thought that a dance is not, “you say something, then I say something back, then you say something else, then I say something in response,” but is potentially something more, is unsettling. If we step past the idea of conversational back-and-forth, there is new scary territory. What if I...let feelings get put in me by outside forces, instead of deciding how things will be and then making them happen? What if the possibility exists that if, instead of working hard to get MY word in edgewise, and I go with someone else, I could feel things that are even nicer than what's programmed for Channel Me?

Cecilia Gonzalez told me that when men ask her to dance, she says, “why? You know I'm not going to follow you!” And then she smiles and shakes her head and says, “well, ok, just this once. To make you happy.”

Until now I had an artificial division in my head: “following” is what I do to make the man happy. “Adornos” are what I do to make me happy.  This is because making people happy gratifies me, and because I assume no man could ever be a better diviner of what would bring me real pleasure than I am myself. But what if, just this once, I not do that thing I was going to do, even though it's really, really cool and explains the music perfectly? What would happen? Oh, we do that? Well, I confess...that is a lot more fun. Um, even...better. Who knew.

Who am I without my word in edgewise? Am I not defined by my actions and words? Am I just as present and just as me? Will you know who I am if I keep my mouth shut? Will I know who I am? Is my space in the universe defined perhaps more profoundly by my ability to listen and embody than my ability to flicker between the idea of “us” and the idea of “me”? Is a dance for two AC or DC?

And...isn't it My Job to entertain you? To sing and dance and put bells on my toes and tell jokes? If I don't entertain you, won't you get bored? And if you get bored...won't you go away? And then I will be all alone. Is it not safer to occasionally draw back into Channel Me, say some clever little thing, and hope that perhaps it will be so superficially charming, you will stick around for the remaining seven minutes of the tanda before going away? It is certainly easier than the alternative, which is to be present as one's real self, listening, holding space, and not making anything up.

I spent a year at Quaker school (and became a Quaker, hey, why not). We had Meeting for Worship on a regular basis. Quaker church is when everybody meets in a circle in a big empty room and sits in silence, present for themselves and for everybody else. And once in a while someone gets up and says something. And everyone else...listens. Period. Maybe once in a blue moon somebody is motivated to respond. But that's icing on the cake. It took me twenty-four years but I just got it: celebrate God not by having to do something about something, but by nondoingly being with his different forms of energy, providing a space of awareness for that energy to happen. Manifest by being like a guitar string, a physical thing that energy passes through, thus creating reality.

Both Cecilia and Santiago say, with exactly the same words, that the man's job is to provide the wave of energy. The woman's job is to surf the ride. Until now I thought, well, that provides plenty of leeway, look at those surfers, they can do Anything They Want on those waves! But when you think about it more, real surfing is like real horseback riding—if you're really doing it, your job is to be completely engaged with the wave on every level, to have as much peace and ease in your own self as possible so that you're one thing with the energy, and then you go...together. (There's that word again.) If you're really surfing, you're not making anything up. You're not doing anything. The minute you draw back from the wave to bring it a charming message from Channel Me, it's over and you fall off the surfboard.

“You see? I can make you have a good time—if you just let me!”

How do we open ourselves up to trust someone else to provide wave energy? People let us down, in small and in large, when it doesn't matter and when it does. We trust, and trust gets betrayed, crushed, and smooshed against the windshield of life. Over time we learn to provide our own impulses, to dance on our own, and that's great, at least we are moving around and it feels good and it's fun. But is it dancing? Is it not even more impressive to, despite a lifetime of experience, open ourselves up and trust someone else to make a wave for us that has the potential to be even nicer than our own self-operated machinations? Is it not more of a dance?

And then what happens afterward?