For a month, I kept banging my head. Unintentionally, or so it seemed. Suddenly everywhere I turned, I encountered a barrier. Obstacles leapt in to connect with my forehead, my temple, the top of my skull.
Cursing, but pushing on, I walked into more doors. I hit my head on the car door frame more than once. “You’d think after over forty years of driving, I’d remember to withdraw my head before standing up,” I told myself.
Finally I remembered. This had happened before in my life. It’s easy to block out klutz memories. This wasn’t just one of my “clumsy phases”. I hadn’t tripped over my carpet. I had not pratfalled down a slippery slope (although at least then the metaphor might have been clearer.) I hadn’t sliced half a finger off while cutting a bagel or a vinyl tile. I hadn’t poured the entire contents of a pot of stock into a colander with no pot underneath, nor baked an eggplant parmesan while forgetting the cheese. OK, I did perversely try to wipe some “schmutz” off of a scalding hot saucepan with my fingers. But I do that every day.
These latest klunks however, were head specific. One evening as my husband Ron and I were cleaning up after dinner, I stood up from stooping to the dishwasher and connected my head to an open cabinet door. “OW! I’m not happy!”
“I wouldn’t be either if I hit my head like that, are you OK?” Ron tried to smother his laughter with a look of anguished compassion.
“No, I mean, I just realized I’m banging my head because I’m not happy!” I said happily.
Everything was illuminated.
“Why aren’t you happy?” asked Ron. “Your practice is going well. You have friends. I love you. Everything is going wonderfully!”
“Well where’s the challenge in that?” I retorted.
I’ve been here before. Even down to the headbanging. At various points in my life, when life was going so smoothly that it seemed like I was just cruising along, an uneasiness would arise in me. The next thing I knew, I’d be snacking my head into the car’s side view mirror, walking into walls and once even getting hit with a brick. (Thank goodness it wasn’t a ton of bricks). My sister says it’s a habitual love of chaos. There’s truth to that, although I do believe that within what I perceive as chaos there is an implicit, hidden order. Some swirling world of probability that keeps bringing me back to the relationship between stability and mobility. “One must have chaos within oneself if one is to be a dancing star” said Nietszche.
Robert Pirsig, celebrated for his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, wrote another less known work, Lila. Lila was a crazy, spontaneous, unpredictable woman who introduced chaos into Pirsig’s stable, routine world. He mused on the physics of dynamics vs. stability. A dynamic society is growing, learning, expanding, often after a chaotic event, like the American or Bolshevik revolution. It is reaching toward a peak, or more realistically, a plateau of stability. Once stable, it tries to hold on to what it has accomplished. But then the laws of entropy come in and the society begins to fall apart. He proposed a way of being he called “dynamic stability.”
Years later, I encountered the same terminology in Moshe Feldenkrais’ teaching. Dynamic stability is about choice. I can be still, but ready to move. I can be moving and know that I am free to stop. So many of us get caught in one or the other. I realized that I had plateaued. Again.
I opened a magazine called Fortune Small Business. In it there was an article about a guy who was a sculptor working at the Met. He got hit in the head by a falling piece of sculpture. After months of law suits and bed rest, he discovered a new career making furniture out of scraps. Coincidence? I think not!
“But I don’t want a new career!” I said to Ron. “I love what I do.” It’s true that in the former head banging periods in my life, the dynamic tension between stability and mobility had propelled me from ad executive to street mime, from street mime to touring artist, from performer to Feldenkrais teacher, from owning my business to moving to Asheville. When I spoke to my younger and wiser sister about how I was feeling, she said, with just a hint of sarcasm, “So, what are you going to do; move, or become a physicist?” Suddenly the world of possibilities is open before me again. The only things that aren’t possible are becoming a Rockette (too short) or a soldier (I have thing about uniforms.)
I was visiting my mother in Florida last week. She’s a Luddite who still gets the morning paper delivered to her door every morning. Next thing I knew, I was reading the Comics page. In the Dennis The Menace cartoon, Mr. Wilson, the curmudgeon old neighbor is sitting on the stoop quoting Zen. (Oh how far we have come!) He tells his wife, “Don’t just do something, sit there.” Coincidence? You tell me.
It occurs to me that I’m not unhappy because of anything that’s going on outside. It’s something that’s happening inside. It’s the chemistry of discomfort and I’ve named it: unhappy. And then I need a story to go with it. But why not just call it growing pains? And this time, instead of running toward something outside myself, I choose to go in. Like the travelers in Fantastic Voyage, I’m taking a journey within to listen to the chorus of neuropeptides and amino acids that are singing the song of change. Instead of attaching a story of dissatisfaction with a wonderful life to the discomfiture whirling through my nervous system, I’m staying put and listening. Who needs to burn bridges?

Author's Bio: 

Author's Bio
For over 30 years, Lavinia Plonka has pursued the links among body,emotions and the mind. Her training and professional career have included mime, dance, yoga and the martial arts in addition to being a master teacher of The Feldenkrais Method®. She was an artist in residence for the Guggenheim Museum and movement consultant for theater and television companies around the world, from the Irish National Folk Theater to Nickelodeon. Her popular workshops have been sponsored by organizations throughout the world: from Esalen to the Feldenkrais Guild of North America, from physical therapy clinics and yoga schools in the US to learning centers in Beijing and Mexico. She is currently the director of Asheville Movement Center in Asheville, NC, offering a complete movement curriculum as well as private Feldenkrais lessons. Lavinia’s writing includes several books as well as her popular column