This past week, our class took a day trip to Brigantine Beach. Though fall is here and city life is getting chilly in Philadelphia, it was incredibly gorgeous that day in Atlantic City with its clear blue skies, bird formations, white sands and ocean waves lapping rhythmically against the shore.
Upon arrival to the beach, my movement teacher Sarah immediately raced me to the ocean and I ran joyously with as much recklessness and abandon that I thought I had, that I haven’t had in a long time.
But of course, I was wrong about that—Pig Iron always pushes the limits of what you thought was possible a lot further.
As a class exercise, we all partnered up and in each partnering, one person would escort the other blindfolded anywhere on the beach.
When it was my turn to close my eyes, I immediately experienced largeness as my perceived constraints of space disappeared. My eardrums suddenly boomed with crashing ocean waves. I felt the sloppy wet sand alongside seashells and stray pebbles, which my feet pressed gingerly against. Most revealingly, I discovered my breath again and again as I have so many times in class and in life, but with the addition of having lungs that expanded ten times larger its original size in response, I think, to the vastness of the ocean, to the endless supply of salty breezes engulfing everyone nearby.
It was then I learned that the ocean, in its vastness, invites bigness.
It makes the compulsion to just run, dance, leap and splash absolutely natural here. And so we did. Michael even threw Francesca into the ocean!
Yet the ocean brought to my conscious awareness a greater sensitivity to my surroundings as well. It was surprisingly easy, for example, to recognize my classmates apart without sight—from Ilse’s laugh to Nick’s hands to Michael’s kiss on my forehead.
I felt largely at ease too. Adeline took watch for me as I blindly walked along the shorelines. Strangely enough, the more I trusted my partner, the more curious I was for the space around me and the more exploratory I became. It was quite freeing. I then concluded that what I’m learning from this exercise is the importance of human connection. That within companionship, there exists an affirmation of the self, a greater realization of yourself and more fun risk-taking.
Quinn, our school’s director, came along and coaxed me into another run towards the ocean. I had the lucky chance of doing this before with Sarah eyes opened, but now with eyes closed, I felt even a greater, more complete freedom. I swear I never ran that fast in my life. In fact, I think I have been too careful for most of my life. Careful of knocking things over, of intruding other people’s personal spaces, of taking appropriate cues within varied social circles. Yet for once, I didn’t have to worry. I didn’t have to doubt. There was no restraint, only great abandon. My heart leapt and I ran with it.
And boy, does the heart run fast.