Wayne C. Allen's "Works in Progress"
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Bass Notes, and Life with Rhythm

legs

As I noted last week, the Quartet model for life is a simple construct around balance and flexibility. Another way, in other words, to describe what it means to walk through a day with verve and style.

The Bass notes, (which I also equated with the pelvis down), are the underpinning of a Quartet's song. In a sense, the bass notes "anchor" the rest of the Quartet. There is a ton of vibration down there; that's why home theatre systems have a separate output for the base notes. That speaker doesn't send out particularly recognizable notes - it just vibrates and puts that vibration into the floor, so that the "shake" can be felt by the listeners. In other words, while there is some audible noise that the ears pick up, the Bass notes are actually felt more than heard.

Which also fits with the location of the Bass section of the body, if you will. Not to unnecessarily repeat myself, but remember - this is a metaphor. The legs and the pelvis might be thought of as a sort of triangle with the apex at the pelvis and the base where the feet meet the ground. The legs and the pelvis interact with the ground through the pulley and rope system we call muscles and joints, and this interaction is called balance or stability. Rock solid, with deep vibration. And that deep vibration is passion.

From a psychological framework, this matches with Maslow's hierarchy of needs. At the base of his triangle are: security, food, shelter, and the sense that one belongs.

Groundedness is precisely this - that emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically I know that I belong here, have a right to be here, have a right to occupy space and use resources. Many people are not sure of this, and in that, they are unbalanced.

Groundedness and balance are a function of both belief (above paragraph) and form. (The way in which something is enacted.)

** Please note! -- Recurring Phoenix Theme!
It's not enough to know this stuff and believe this stuff.
You actually have to do it!! **

You can't be balanced if your weight is not distributed accurately. Notice I didn’t say "evenly." Balance occurs as my weight distribution matches the terrain I'm standing on. If I'm heading down a steep downhill slope, my weight is most likely on the downside foot's inner edge. Nothing "even" about it. I am, however, in balance.

The point is this: many people confuse stability or rigidity or "evenness" (or fairness) as the only way one can be in balance. It's like someone learning to walk on a flat surface, as we all did, and then assuming the same rules apply to stairs and mountain climbing.

We learn, by falling down, that different approaches are required by changing circumstances.

When we change locales from walking to the intra and interpersonal realm, please note how often people don't get this. The don't change with circumstances - they desperately repeat what doesn't work, or repeatedly do in relationship "b" what worked in relationship "a." To them we say: one must create balance and groundedness in response to the actual ground upon which one is standing - the circumstances.

Balance, in walking and in relating, is a continual shifting and accommodation of the terrain. It is "based" upon my sense that I belong here, and have every right in the world to be here, not as others want me to be, but as me.

Pelvis energy and 1st Chakra energy is passionate energy. Also, the pelvis has long been considered "home" to the power or energy source for martial arts. Flexibility in this lower region is necessary to kick, and groundedness is required to punch. The lower dan tien, 2 inches below the navel (Chakra 2) is considered one of the places where chi is "burned" to make power, and is also considered the body's centre of gravity.

If we take a step back from the body and into the metaphoric realm, passion is a misunderstood thing. There is a mis-perception in the West that passion "should" be about specific, limited things.

While we all give lip service to the idea of living life with passion and verve, most people get pretty uncomfortable around those who are actually doing it.

I find that most people seem to be waiting around for permission to be passionate. Or, they are passionate about politically correct things.

*Crunch!* (The sound of Wayne shifting gears.)

Ever since I was 9 or 10 and saw, in Buffalo, a van Gogh exhibit at the art gallery, I've been in love with impressionist and post-impressionist art. While I'd be hard pressed to name my favourite van Gogh or impressionist painting when I was 10 it was "The Potato Eaters."

potato eaters

I mention the Impressionists because of my resonance with them. The major shift proposed by the Impressionists was the use of light and colour to convey an "impression." In other words, they were fighting against the Romanticists, who were, in a sense, literalists who simply recorded scenes. The Impressionists attempted to create a felt sense of the subject -thus, their subjective feeling was caught on canvas. What stands out in Impressionist and Post Impressionist art is the sense of balance, passion and flow, yet without hyper-detail.

This, believe it or not, was not an excursus. Last week, I mentioned the Three Bears Metaphor - too hot, too cold, and just right. We might see the Impressionists as being the antithesis of the Romanticists. Thus, while "Romanticist" sounds "hot," it might be actually cold - sterile, predictable, a technical recording of a subject. And while Impressionist art might be seen as cold - merely colour slathered on canvas or board, it is actually hot - as it encompasses the passion and the interior landscape of the person doing the painting. In a sense, then, Romanticists painted for the audience and had to be politically correct (they painted what sold.) The Impressionists painted as a way of capturing on canvas their interior landscape. The paintings were therefore personal, intense and quite "chargy." Passionate, in other words.

The danger of "too hot" is burnout. The danger of "too cold" is lethargy moving toward apathy. In our society, as I wrote above, "too hot" is scary to the masses. People disturb themselves over what are considered excessive displays of passion, whether in music, the arts or in lifestyle choices. Society attempts to stop over-zealousness, because society makes this uncomfortable. Because people want to fit in, they reign themselves in.

If you look around, you won't see an over-abundance of passionate excess these days. We see it in our artists, and that's about it. No, mostly we see flatness, and a lot of unmotivated, bored, stuck people. This is so, I believe, because people fear their passion. Or maybe better, they fear expressing themselves passionately because they imagine that they have been rejected for their passions. One sentence I hear repeatedly is, "I can't do that. What will people think?"

The "just right" posture is the place of balance. I have to live and function in the world. I have to know how to communicate, to earn a living and to get by. And I may need to engage in functional behaviour at work and out on the streets. I don't, however, have to surrender my self in the process. In Christianity, there is the idea, "be in but not of the world." In Zen, "Chop Wood, Carry Water."

This means that we all must fit in, unless we want to live in a cave. On the other hand, the way I choose to express myself and live my personal (as opposed to my political) life, is totally up to me. Who I relate to, who I am in relationship with, who I choose to be sensual, sexual, erotic with, how I choose to play out my passions, is totally my choice. I might want to push my boundaries, expand my container, in the personal realm.

To do this, I have to choose (as the Impressionists, other than van Gogh, who killed himself, learned),  to "paint for painting's sake." If I live my personal life with one eye on the opinions of everyone else, I am doomed. The list of people I choose to listen to as they comment on my life needs to be short. (In my case, it's 4.) Otherwise, I am doomed to limit my experience or torture myself over the comments of all of those around me.

The beat of life is contained in the bass notes, and is all about passion, and movement and "just right" expression. It, like everything we talk about in Into the Centre, is an individual walk, enacted in the presence of the rest of the world, evaluated by my closest intimates and myself. It is a walk for the sake of the walk, and for the sake of the ever-increasing flow of energy. I want to live my life out in the real world, through real actions and encounters, not in my head in my imagination.

Because passion is not passion if it is not expressed. Plain and simple.




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