David Sibbet | Leaning In
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Leaning In

My weekly poetry writing is influencing my prose. Here is what might be called a prose poem. It arose from a prompt that is its title.

LEANING IN

“It’s about trusting. Just lean in, stay connected to your partner,” the leader instructed. She was facilitating a trust activity where partners stand opposite, hands joined in an arc over open space. “Move back slowly and lean in. Go as far as you can.”

I know we will fall. We’ve passed the point of having control and balance. Only the strength of connection keeps us up, and the leaning in.

But my muse doesn’t have such steady hands. When she appears it’s a feeling in my chest, or fascination with some little figurine on my desk. And if I lean in too quickly. the feeling disappears. I fall into thinking. I fall into trying.

When my partner comes to the table with upset in her eyes, masked by comments about the weather or what she wants to eat, can I trust my seeing, and lean into the edges of something I cannot yet see? And when the conversation turns to feelings of being discounted and dismissed, can I stay leaning into listening, just listening, and just feeling the weight and push of it for a while?

There is a certain thrill that comes when the leaning in spans a long reach, well beyond what is possible alone, when the listening tiptoes past my pain and defensiveness and begins to soften the edges of a brittle heart. Breath in pain. Breath out compassion. Tonglen—taking and sending as leaning in. Staying connected beyond one’s own stability.

In the exercise we collapse on the floor laughing when we go too far. “Okay do it again; focus on your connection; move back slowly, together. You will go farther this time.”

Can I lean in without a facilitator? Can I lean into my own faint callings? Can I laugh when I fall on the floor of my unknowing?  It’s about trusting, I know, this leaning in, and listening, and feeling the leaning come back my way.

Perhaps a steady leaning in can be strong enough for dancing.

David Sibbet. 10-26-21

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