Anatomy of listening: Grey – Like the Moon

A man sits up in his bed. He looks over the bay, I nod gently twice, to communicate that I see him. He nods back in the same rhythm. The space between us now is alive with something weaved by simply acknowledging each other. He lays in bed, almost swaddled, with the bed sheets up to his neck and a towel draped around his head, shaping and framing his face, halo like. He looks like a holy man.

His eyes glow with a light grey, deep presence. He watches us intently, eyes following the movement, moving toward and away from him. His eyes seem to just drink in the dance. He, in his presence, is shaping the dance. We move towards him and see that his curiosity sustains and grows, we move closer, and the smile grows slightly. We are playing, and in some sense, he is too. 

He is a witness here. The role he seems to know somehow, in a way, in this witnessing, he is making the dance happen. His presence calls the dance up in us, his particular presence affects the way in which our bodies move. We are responding to his response, in this mutual looping of resonance of being together. 

We gesture hands closer to him and I whisper to Louise ‘bring the outside in’ this is one of our ‘scores’ (a series of instructions that we follow) that encourage a widening field of perception of that which is is outside, the wind in the trees we see through the window. 

We invite in a change of something within us, and in that moment, something shifts. Small perceptual shifts and changes of attention open up a different quality to what we do, and how we inhabit our bodies in space. I trust these changes, in some way, are felt by another who may be close to us. 

Towards the end of the dance we wait. 

We shapeshift presence. If we go with the idea that presence is like texture. As if I could reach into the space and feel the quality of it. I liken this to the moment the conductor of an orchestra lifts up the baton and gently breathes, and the whole audience of thousands of people in the theatre quiet everything and the field of attention shifts like a murmuration of starlings.

Everything comes into coherence, on the tip of that baton, in just that moment, a synchronisation, a precious moment which can be felt felt deeply by all. A suspended present.

Whatever has happened has happened today in the dancing. There has been an exchange, in some way, in each of these small improvisations there is a willingness to be changed by each other. Deeply. This tenderness of shared being together – if only for a moment – is what makes the dancing happen, I think.

To let each other in so much so, that what is created is unique to this meeting at this very day and time and season. The sounds across the ward, the nurse half dancing as she passes. The other nurse patiently waiting to take blood pressure, just there, watching. The woman half asleep conjuring a tissue from her sleeve. The woman shouting across the room to another patient: ’you’re back?’ And she replies:  ‘God didn’t want me yet, I am still here..’

There is something so alive about this, and so hard at times knowing the fleeting nature of all of this.

I feel that the thing I am left with is these inner traces of people. After all these years of dancing. Thousands and thousands of glances and gestures traced inside me. Thousands of hands reaching into the air, of yearning eyes seeking horizons, and the soft and tender ‘thank you’ that is exchanged at the end of dancing. 

Last night I couldn’t sleep, looking at the moon, it was so fucking huge. So bright that I just couldn’t fathom the whole thing, how small we are, how wonderful we are, how little time we actually have here. 

I phoned my partner to say that looking out the window last night and being lost in wonder for that time was so precious. I said, “I hope I remember that moment, I’d like to remember that” I knew in some way that a memory had been made, and that it was shared.

This man today in the hospital made the moon make sense. The same eyes last night lost in wonder looking up at the moon, today were meeting this man’s deep light grey eyes in a busy ward of a London hospital. I’m full of the same awe, still the same wonder, knowing that a memory had been made.

A whole other beautiful universe right there, looking out, sitting up in bed.

His eyes said something about being here. One day I might know what that is.

Leave a Reply