As my relationship with the future, also known as the floor, improves, my ability to see it in my mind's eye improves. It's like I was afraid to look at it before, because it was scary and unknown and probably had monsters. But since I was stepping blindly into it, my journey felt uncertain, anxious, and vague. Where am I stepping? Who knows? It can't be good. But if I go without looking, I will be spared the worst of the tribulations.
Now I'm adjusting to a sexy new world where I can't wait to hang out with the bit of floor in front of me, because we're going to...well, I can't tell you what we're going to do with each other! We'll have to find out when we get there! But the floor and I both know it will be lots of fun for everyone involved. And I'm noticing the more time I spend blushing and smiling and thinking about how tenderly, yet solidly, the floor touched me the last time, the more clearly I see my steps' destinations in my mind's eye. I want to open my inside eyes. I want to “see” the exact spot fourteen inches behind my second left metatarsal where my foot is going to land. Because I'm happy for the chance to put it there!
What this means is that for the first time in my dancing life, I'm actually walking in straight lines. I used to cross over, waver, flop all over the place. It's because my inside eyes were closed tight to the scary and ugly future that threatened them. But we love to look at our lovers. They are, after all, beautiful. And the better we love them, the more we see the details that make them them, and not some other floor-board. Of course we can see them with our outside eyes closed!
We echolocate our lovers with pinpoint accuracy even if they're all the way across a crowded milonga and our back is turned and we're talking to someone else. If we're in a room full of people and they walk in, we know as soon as it happens, no matter who's standing in the way of whom. If they move, we hear them moving. We don't have to use our outside eyes. We know where they are in the room, whether we want to or not. (Sometimes especially when we don't want to know!) And the longer our shared histories are, the more automatic, constant, and precise our echolocating is.
It's the same with the floor. First, you're like, um, that is a floor. I am a person. I have never thought about floors in my entire life, they are all the same, and I am no more connected with any of them than I am with a florist in Taiwan. And then time goes by and you see good dancers swimming along looking great and people tell you to walk “like a cat on rose petals” and instead you walk like an elephant with pianos tied to its legs, and you think, that damned floor, I just don't get it. And then a lot more time goes by, you get frustrated, you have that one step per million that comes out great, you do things you know are wrong, you experiment, you go through phases. And the floor sticks with you, patiently, through all of it. Waiting for you to see it.
And still you don't see it. Although gradually you realize that previously alien notions that sounded high-maintenance and Princess and the Pea, like “fast floor,” “slow floor,” “hard floor,” “soft floor,” “sticky floor,” and “slippery floor,” are just facts of life that you'd have to be dead not to notice.
And then one day you fall in love with the floor (about bloody time, it thinks) and suddenly you can see it whether you want to or not!
And now I can do that exercise where you side-step along a line, and your toes touch the line to exactly the same degree every step. I could never do it before, because I was relying on body mechanics, which are—gasp—not always perfect. The foot would go here, or there, or it would be pretty close but not really. I was guessing instead of seeing. Now, because I'm looking forward to wrapping myself in its lovely oak embrace, I see the floor in my mind's eye and it's almost easy to step into exactly the right spot.
This is still a work in progress. I'm not very good at it yet. But I can tell this is How Things Are Done. The precision of using my inside eyes to see where I'm going is far more exact than hoping good technique will make my body move through space correctly. It's like the difference between crossing a busy street blindfolded and doing so with open eyes. And this exactitude sets the mind at ease—in other words, it relaxes me. The mind tick-tick-ticks less, because it knows what's going to happen! It can see it!
This is all brand new and happening in real-time in the laboratory. However, I got to dance with an actual man this week and I noticed something very interesting happening: I was starting to see where he was seeing me go! And it was different! It happened ahead of when I would see the step for myself, and it was a little bigger than a step I would have made on my own. It was...more the normal-size step of someone about six inches taller than me. Go figure.
Since I could suddenly see the guy's plans for me, I realized how far short of them I had been falling until now. Sorry, world. ….I tried stepping into each spot as he chose it, without telling him about my experiment, and it worked. I could feel it being easier for him. I didn't even realize how much readjusting and how many microrecalculations he continually made to compensate for my errant and inobservant ways, until I reduced my inobservant erring!
I was doing a lot of very concerted looking, but I didn't know what I was looking for. And then in the middle of all that unguided looking, I found it by accident. And finding it made me want to look for it even more. Now that I know what to look for, who knows what more I shall find?