What you seek is seeking you. -Rumi
Photo / Dana Cristea
Dancing the World into Salvation: An Ode to the Blue Monkey
I have the privilege of bearing witness to the divine child in action every week when I’m a part time dance teacher at a local elementary school. It’s there that I lead kids into a big, open space where they are allowed to coil their bodies around rhythm and explore the limitless menagerie of movement creatures that stalk their wild, wide imaginations. The inhibition that stokes their wonder is something I revere. It allows them to be risk taking. It allows them to discover essential truths and ancient myths through the vehicle of their bodies.
We enjoy a game, my students and I, that we’ve come to refer to as the Tell Me A Story game. It is simple in concept and profound in practice. I ask them to tell me a story about something specific, using movement and no sound. Straightforward examples I use to begin are things like, “Tell me the story of planting a garden. Tell me the story of why the sun sets. Tell me the story of your favorite pet.”
They throw themselves head first into these exercises. They want nothing more than opportunities to tell stories kinesthetically. Our kinesthetic synthesis of mind and emotion is, after all, one of our greatest human capabilities.
We soon enter more complex and layered story scenarios. Things like, “Tell me the story of loneliness.”
One child goes to the corner of the room, sits down and tilts his head toward the floor. Another child crawls on his hands and knees toward his friend and reaches out for her. A third child lays down on the ground and looks up at the ceiling as if the ceiling were a universe of endless stars.
It always quakes me - their willingness to tap into their own human vulnerability and the collective vulnerability of their parents, their siblings, their teachers and the world.
Kids are perceptive as fuck, I’m reminded, time and time again.
We then delve into magical story territory. Things like, “Tell me the story of when rainbow warriors ruled the earth and the moon was made of dolphins.”
It’s abstract as hell, yet they are fully able to inhabit abstract places. They are not worried how other students do it. They are curious about the interpretations of their peers, but they don’t look to their peers to set the template. They trust their own imagination. They trust their own creative instinct - limitlessly. Why, as we grow, do we disconnect from the medicine of our divine, inner child? Why do we block an untamed trust in the wisdom of our non-linear instincts? Why do we stop harvesting the beauty of a flexible mind?
Because society values clear divisions between children and adults. Because we become wounded and afraid. Because we do not want to be rejected.
We end with, “Tell me the story of how to save the planet.”
I ask this often when I teach. I ask this often because every time they dance the answer, I learn something new that gives me faith.
Here is where I’ll make a confession. There are times when I disavow my sense of wonder and magic and enter into a dark underworld in which everything appears hopelessly beyond salvation. So I store these dancing moments with my students up and I reach for them when I am drowning in my own cynicism or despair.
Their saving-the-world-stories look like one girl gathering a circle of her friends and linking hands. A boy smoothing his palms over the ground with loving attention. Two children jumping up and down as they face each other and giggle. A student cradling something invisible and humming softly. Two kids slamming their bodies into the mat against the wall, over and over and over.
There is a deep value in the kind of courageous play my students show me when they dance the world into salvation. Truths that allude our serious, adult examinations of the planet, they surface like sacred shadows on the water. I believe the power of the Blue Monkey archetype lies in our ability to dissolve rigidity and apply the medicine of magical thinking. To access our unruly, creative potential we must forget everything we know that divides our world into yes and no, good and bad, this or that. We must be uninhibited in the exploration of our imagination. We must be ceaselessly dedicated to the delight of the task at hand. Exceedingly present. Righteously mischievous. Wondrously enraptured.
We must be our first selves again. The selves we knew before anyone ever shamed our dancing into stillness. The selves we knew before our fear of being outcast - when community was foundation, hearts were trusting and imaginations were free.