Relationships, Part Four: Peers
Part Four in a four-part series of relational examinations.
Part One: Parents
Part Two: Pets
Part Three: Students
The definition of peer that I most relate to is “looking at”. The people who were supposed to be ‘like me’, were never like me. They might have been of similar age or geographical region, but we were never, ever the same. I don’t think I’ve ever had peers of the same interests and abilities, even when I played sports. That unifying umbrella of a game and trying to win and get better was a flimsy, superficial skeleton of rip-ready material. The slightest wind or resistance would shatter it. Most of the time I was the force seeking separation.
I wore a jersey that others wore so I could play and know who was on my team. I needed to quickly recognize what I was working with and who was working against me. I wanted to know what needed to be done and how to do it well. I also wanted to recognize when to do it before anyone else. The speed of seeing and recognizing patterns was an asset not many were paying attention to. Reacting came after. I wanted to manipulate before.
This is how you learn to run things.
This is how you can be both a ghost and a presence.
Things are not the same when you aren’t there.
I’ve had my moments of trying to fit in. My ‘WNBA Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue’ moment happened in the sixth grade. I decided to try out for the pom squad because I had rhythm and I wanted to prove that I could do girly things. It was a routine set to Madonna’s Vogue. The choreography was simple enough. I got it pretty quick. On the day of the tryout they lined us up in the field and hit play on the boombox. Right from the initial strings hold, I was locked in. Several beats in, I noticed that the gals to the left of me were a count off. I glanced to the right, and they were a count off too! Are these squad leaders seeing that EVERYONE was off except me?!?!?
I didn’t make the team (which freed me up to play more basketball), but it pretty much sums up how I choose to exist in this world.
It also demonstrates how I do not let others influence how I feel about me.
Me believing that I am good and special has never waivered. Even when I was made fun of. Even when I was made fun of by people who were supposed to love and care for me. Different is what made me exceptional. I won’t say better because that requires a comparison. I never needed someone else to tell me who I am and what I had to offer. I knew. I was sure because I trusted me.
I have never let myself down.
To be clear, I have failed at things. A lot. But all the failure did was point me in a more correct direction. Knowing what to do and where to go is a skill those used to relying on themselves have had the practice to master.
We’re not headed in a straight line. We’re not trying to ‘get’ anywhere. We’re trying to make ‘here’ a more enjoyable place.
Once you have accumulated enough knowledge-insight-stuff, however, you have to find something to do with it. You have to give it use. Students don’t quite fill the need. There is too much they are figuring out (while you are trying to figure them out). You need different others to nerd out about the stuff you find interesting.
Putting that stuff out on this blog (and its social media tendrils) was akin to putting out a signal. I had assembled a body of work that others could appreciate, hate, or be indifferent to. People started to contact me – a minimally risky effort that I acknowledged was still an act of engagement — a desire to get in touch.
After enough positive interactions, I wondered what a group of people with more questions than answers might create together. The ‘work’ was a guise of safety we could all be confident in. Becoming better teachers, learners, and practitioners was the lure to get people to say yes. I hoped to market their ideas through the act of publicizing their personal pieces (akin to hanging their picture on the wall).
Essentially, I used the internet to knock on someone’s door and ask if they wanted to come out and play. I identified which doors might be open and hospitable by the content they put out.
My pitch was basically this: ” Hey. I like your stuff. I have this idea to give stuff away. Are you interested in becoming part of this group share?”
Before long, thinkmovement was born.
The digital library became an ‘in real life’ meetup in August of 2019. It was an opportunity to present concepts, findings, and methods to a group of similarly curious and interested movement teachers, trainers, and coaches. We met up at a movement farm and gathered and prepared our first meal, chatted and hung out, then spent the next two days teaching and learning from one another. I borrowed a friend’s giant SUV to drive us around. People I had never met stayed at my house. I don’t know if the magic of that first encounter could ever happen again. The experience, though, has fueled every effort ever since.
When the pandemic hit, it seemed natural to simply put being together at the forefront, so I started planning social tours where I came to visit them. It felt tremendous and powerful again. People needing people and then people showing up. We talked deeply about deep things, met families, and exposed and explained the human behind the work. We had become friends.
The East Coast social tour is happening at the end of July. I am excited for it.
I am excited for what happens next.
I am excited to experience what that might be.
Part One: Parents
Part Two: Pets
Part Three: Students