Friday, March 25th, 2022
As I reflect on our greeting with rope, I can’t help but think about the contradictions of human needs and desires. It is our nature to seek safety and security through routine and predictability. Humans are creatures of habit. We flee from anxiety, discomfort, pain and the unknown. We will sacrifice other basic needs because the natural response to avoid anxiety and fear evades reason.
And yet, part of us is fueled by the anticipation of the unknown, feels drawn to uncertainty, and willingly exposes ourselves physically and emotionally to people we barely know! As with every first encounter, I did not know for certain what I would be experiencing in our greeting. I had an idea of what the rope form would be like based on your workshop in NYC a few years ago, video clips, and my experiences in Sarah’s and Dom’s rope. But I could not predict what kind of connection I would feel, what kind of story would be told, what kind of dynamic would organically form, who I am in relation to you. All those unknowns contribute to anxiety and insecurity. At the same time, they fill me with wonder and curiosity.
To speak metaphorically, greetings are like dipping my toe in the ocean. I know it will be wet, but I don’t know the temperature of the water, the strength of the waves, or what other life occupies space there. Will the water be too cold to swim in? Will it feel comfortable? Will I want to slowly submerge myself further, or jump in immediately? Will I want to explore even more the depths of the ocean to see what other possibilities live there? The first time being tied feels like an exploration of my mind, my body, my wants and needs, as well as your mind, your body, your wants and needs. I wondered how well we would communicate non-verbally. Would I be able to accurately read you, your intentions, your emotional and psychological state? Would I feel attuned to you?
Looking back, I think I was overly concerned with what kind of impression I would leave on you. This kept me in my head more than I would have liked. Whenever I noticed that I was worrying about what you were feeling, what you perceived about me, your opinions and/or judgments, I tried to re-focus on the sensations in my body. I think that the first meeting is always a balance of caution and risk-taking. It is an experiment of action and reaction.
When I think about what I will remember from our greeting, I do not think of the rope itself or the pain or the positions. The moments I treasure most are feeling your hand stroking my face and hair as I processed discomfort and pain, feeling the rhythm and synchronicity of our breaths together, and your laughter as you said you like my smile. I like hearing you laugh. I will also remember the tinge of sadness in your voice after untying, as you shared about how tension in other areas of your life limited how much emotional capacity you were able to give with rope. In that moment, I wished I could somehow free you from the pain that weighs you down. I also felt extremely grateful that you could share parts of your story with me, and share an experience with rope with me.
I believe that every person we meet, every connection, situation, and experience changes us in some way. I certainly feel that meeting you, getting to know you, and connecting with you through rope has added value to my life. I feel appreciative and honored to have participated in your project.