Commusings: The Water’s Course by Jeff KrasnoMar 05, 2022
However, from time to time, moments of satori spring forth like a lotus out of the logistical mud puddle of parenthood. Today’s missive distills one of those moments.
Send me a smoke signal at [email protected] or step into the river of my IG @jeffkrasno.
In love, include me,
• • •
The Water’s Course
I furtively watch my daughter pirouette from outside the window. All of the other burgeoning ballerinas have packed up their bags and Ondine is alone in the studio dancing to Debussy’s Reverie. Although I am running late, I hold back and spy.
She’s yoked with the music, carrying its profound wistfulness in the lilt of her hands. Her arms unfurl, plaintively, almost lazily and without concern. She floats with each sauté and ascends effortlessly with each relevé, instinctively aware of her body in space.
She moves with the water’s course, filling the closest empty space, gently rounding the hard edges of the studio walls. She knows without knowing where to go. She in the river’s current, applying the rudder just so, directing its energy. She is as dancing – no past, no future — just simultaneous intention and action.
And there’s something imperfectly perfect to it — a mole on the upper lip, a precious scar across a finger, an antique doll stitched back together. Life, with all its brokenness, is remembered, reassembled in her arabesque.
A curtain drapes down the back half of the studio. For moments at a time, she disappears behind it like a heron flying behind a gauzy cloud. My mind is left to fill in the absence.
I am lost in her lostness, in her vacant gaze. I don’t even know my daughter. I don’t know her longing. And this lack of familiarity is enchanting, as if I am in her chant.
We connect behind our respective loneliness. Love doesn’t visit me. I visit it. Love is not an emotion. It is a state of being. And she is there, too.
But, like a moth, I flutter too close to the light. She catches my eye like a virus.
Seeing her see me, I recoil, stepping out of view. But the geometry of our tryst has shifted. We are both roused from a shared but separate dream. Still, surreptitiously, we strike a deal – a collusion in pretense – both of us feigning unawareness of the other.
But what was once flow becomes a show. Under observation, she dances like a particle and not a wave, like matter and not energy. Her claw hands stiffen ever so. Her leaps more muscular. The way of arms distinctly performative. Her aspiration to impress me, to make me proud, to generate no faux pas, is heart-wrenching.
My gaze has taken her off purpose by putting her on one. The goal of dancing is to dance, not to complete the routine. The goal of music is to play, not to finish the song. Once art becomes a product and not a process, it reeks of the ego.
When expressing potential vocations around the dinner table, your curmudgeonly grandparents may grumble, “There’s no future in dance.” They’re right. That’s what makes it so epiphanous.
The musicians and the dancers are the great Buddhas for they inhabit utter presence. It’s off the stage where they become problematic — susceptible to vice as inappropriate substitutes for the desire to be at one with source. They’ve tasted the relief of cognitive absence and desire not to desire.
With the ebb of the final refrain, I enter the studio and take a seat on the bench. She swaps out her pointe shoes for Air Force 1’s and collects her affairs.
“You’re a beautiful dancer, Ondine.”
“Thanks Dad,” she replies almost dismissively.
We walk out the door and are headed toward the car, when a woman, likely a dance mom, gently grabs my forearm. I turn to her.
“You must love your daughter,” she said.
“How do you mean?” I rejoin.
“I was watching you watch her. I’ve never seen someone so utterly transfixed.”
“Well, of course, I love her,” I stammer, blushing and imagining how awkward I must have appeared.
To dance as if you had no audience. To love without requirement. To flow like a river.
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