When it’s dark in the early morning, much as it is as I write this right now, and I am alone with my thoughts for a peaceful minute, it’s then that I write. And it may be my age, or my need for solidity in what is a constantly changing world, but I enjoy the feel of a weighted pen on paper but right now I am in a hotel room with my teenager snoring occasionally in the next bed and it is pitch black except for the low light of this phone as I text-type. Having set this stage, pen and paper will wait and all my grammar critics can bear with my run-on sentences.
Yesterday I met a woman for coffee. She is, as is true for all people, so much more than she appears from the outside. She is intelligent, funny, supremely capable, driven, and kind. She is so kind. And hiding somewhere is silliness that I look forward to seeing more of because her laugh is like cascading bells that turns heads. She really has the most wonderful disruptive laugh. It’s the kind that will make others smile in a room full of strangers.
After those stolen minutes for coffee, I returned to my work in a chair in a room that has known my behind for almost 13 years. This chair and I are well acquainted. It’s too tall, too wide, and too deep. My feet don’t touch the floor so I have a stool to prop them on. It’s an upside-down garbage can. Beside my feet is a small heater. It’s on most of the time. Every 15 minutes, someone comes in to pepper me with questions. Mostly I have answers but the work in front of me on the screen (where there are deeper and constant questions whose answers are hiding in the data and worse, hiding in social constructs) is where the real problem solving happens. Either problem-solving interaction makes me both happy and exhausted. This is because I am plagued with doubt. I am doubtful that I can truly solve the deeper questions and I am keenly aware that my time here is limited.
I often wish I had more time. More time to really see my coworkers and dig into what is needed. Instead, we problem solve and move on and I have to trust that if there were something deeper needed, that they would know I would make space for that. I’m afraid that they are overly aware and respectful of what pulls me away and in fact, they keep so much to themselves… as do I out of respect for their time and energy and also, spending 13 years with people has allowed us to deepen our relationships over time. We have celebrated and mourned and shared life in much of its mundane workaday world. We have seen parents pass away, children born, marriages formed and relationships dissolve - and simply sat in chairs beside one another or met each other… for coffee.
Time. It’s part of space.
As I travel from one place to another it feels as though I am leaving and entering worlds. All are fairly predictable. Until they aren’t. And even that is predictable. Right? Each tiny cosmos revolves and here I am, in the smallest of parts in the evolution of the beloved people revolving beside me. We are in and out of one another’s orbits. It’s absolutely mind-numbingly amazing that worlds collide and that stars form.
Oula is a cosmic collision course.We create and process the discovering of our own inner stardust. Too esoteric? Bear with me.
In Oula, each of us takes time… We enter a space held in which we experience a dance - a movement through time and space that brings to surface the robust experience of being human: It’s not about how it looks. It’s about how it feels. If you have danced Oula for any amount of time, you will know that all the feelings are allowed to be felt and simultaneously, the body is moved at varied rates - and new feelings surface.
All that to say that we get sweaty together and share a space in which we may have very different experiences while moving to the same choreography. And to prevent actual collisions.. instructors have “cleared the space” for safety.
In fact, instructors of Oula clear the space, and then… they hold it. They. Hold. Space.
If that’s not a superpower, I don’t know what is!
In addition to clearing and holding space, instructors teach others how to do the same for one another and… for themselves.
It’s just one more beautiful truth in Oula. We. Hold. Space.
One last beautiful truth: The holding of space is not a confinement nor a constraint. It doesn’t limit anyone to a defined experience nor does it place judgment or value on those experiences. In Oula, our space holding is creative. It is open and flowing through. It’s natural to want to predict, restrict, define, or limit what future paths hold, but that is in-the-box existence and it is each of our own personal challenges to hold enough space for what is essentially unknowable and simply move through this dance creating and trusting the space around us. It’s part of growth to feel uncomfortable and uncertain. Our space holding embraces the safety of our space - we trust our movement. We trust our bodies in orbit. We trust this cosmos in which we happily occasionally collide.
'I Hold Space.' This is a daily affirmation for me. It’s been two hours since I started this writing. It is now 5am and I will soon wake this teenager and we will begin the day. Before I do, I wanted to reach across this space and acknowledge you. We are here. Dancing together! I am so grateful for your presence in this space and for the creative stardust energy you bring to Oula.
Please forgive any too-early-rambling and no small stretch of waxing philosophic. Feel free to wax philosophic right back and share how you hold space for yourself, your community or the natural world. Share! It gets us into each others’ orbits.
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