Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Technology Trouble

I've come to realize something as technology has started taking over the world. It is destroying communication, people, and relationships. Most of you are probably thinking that I am a hypocrite. After all, don't I use cell phones, iPads, laptops, "apps," and search engines on a regular basis? Don't I prefer to text people rather than call them on the phone? You bet! And that is the problem.

For those of you who know me, you know I've never been much of a phone-talker. I generally get flustered, forget my words, or interrupt the other person awkwardly because I'm never sure when he/she is finished. One of my best friends is like this, too. We've talked about the fact that we prefer to text each other to avoid the awkward talking dance that encompasses us when we are trying to figure out how to make a conversation flow naturally. Texting has become one of my main forms of communication. I am better on paper than I am out loud and I always have been. Unfortunately, I feel like this is kind of destroying me as a person. Allow me to elaborate.

When I try to remember life before texting and the social media, it is hard to remember how I got by. How did I invite my friends places? How did I get asked on dates (well wait a minute, that never happened so I guess that's why I don't remember it)? How did I communicate with my friends? How did it feel to never worry about Facebook notifications or how many messages I had in my inbox? Honestly, it's getting harder and harder to remember a time when I actually had to communicate face to face with anyone. I rarely call my own mother on the phone. We text. And my sister? Texty texterson. My friends? Well, I can just get in touch with them via Facebook! No need to sit down and have an actual conversation!

Do you see my point a little bit?

Let me go a little bit further with this.

I was talking to my cousin, Ashley, yesterday about love and relationships. We were discussing our "troubles" and commenting on the woes of our good friends and family. When I got home last night, it occurred to me that perhaps the reason so many relationships go down the toilet these days is because there is no mystery anymore. Think about it. Girl likes boy. Girl finds boy's Facebook profile. Girl requests to be friends with boy and boy accepts. Girl frantically clicks through every photo of boy on his profile to check, rather than ask him, for potential girlfriends. Girl instantly loathes any female in the presence of boy in Facebook photos. Girl starts a story in her head about how boy led her on and probably doesn't even like her. Girl gets furrowed brow and decides she doesn't need boy and rather than talking to him, she will stalk his Facebook and see who he communicates with. Boy, meanwhile, has no idea any of this is happening since girl is going through a mental breakdown over a few harmless photos. Girl and boy may date, but it never works out because girl is so absurdly jealous by everything put up on Facebook. Because girl can communicate with boy via text message at any point during the day, she flips out when boy does not return messages in a split second and jumps to all the wrong conclusions. He must be with another girl. He must not want to talk to her. He must not actually want to date her. Screw 'im! Boy and girl get in fight later about "lack of communication" (how ironic) and boy walks away wondering how he could have done something wrong when he really did nothing at all.

You know this sounds familiar.

Think about when our grandparents courted (yes, courted) each other. What life must have been like to not have a permanent and instantaneous connection to a potential lover. If a boy liked a girl, he asked her on a date. The girl would have to go through the process of getting ready for the date without speaking to the boy until the moment he picked her up. How exciting that must have been! Getting ready for a date, allowing your heart to race in anticipation for what you might discover about the other person. After going on a date, the boy (or girl) would have to decide if another date was in order. Right then and there. Or they would have to call one another to set up another one. During the day, neither one would be communicating constantly. Boy and girl would have no idea what the other had been up to (scary and exciting all at once), so if there were a second date, there would be plenty to discuss at the dinner table. What did they do that day? Where did they go? Who did they meet? I can't imagine this type of interaction ever occurring anymore. Why? Because technological advances make it almost impossible. Unless you and your partner make a conscious decision not to use technology with one another during the day, this scenario can never exist.

I'm not saying technology isn't great or that it isn't fun to post photos on Facebook or to "check in" when you've arrived somewhere spectacular (I'm guilty of it just as much as you are), but there was a time when people had to rely solely on the art of face-to-face interaction to decide how they felt about one another. Marriages are ending left and right these days and I'm sure part of the reason is due to a lack of good and true communication. You can't say you communicate with your significant other if you are watching Facebook throughout the day. You can't say you know how he/she is feeling just because you got a few texts every couple of hours. You can't get jealous about pictures that have been posted if you haven't asked the person any questions about his/her life.

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I guess I was born in the wrong era. If you don't give yourself a chance to truly miss someone, you might miss out on an opportunity. Spending too much time with one person can often be maddening; everyone needs a break. So why do we refuse to take one?

And is it hypocritical that I am posting my thoughts about this issue on a blog, which is a tool given to me by the power of technology? Of course. Unfortunately, it's the only way I felt anyone would "listen."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Music Makes Me Make Sense

There are a few things you need to know about me if we're going to get along. First, I am extremely passionate about teaching (as previous posts have probably shown). Second, I am stubborn and impatient (to a fault). I have made so many mistakes because of my inability to delay gratification, but I won't get into that right now. Finally, music and movement are the only two things in the world that make sense to me.

I have been a dancer all my life. I used to think it was dance alone that defined my existence and controlled my emotions, but now that I have gotten older and no longer dance every day, I see that I was wrong. Being able to move my body and to control the softness, sharpness, pace, and precision of each movement has given me ownership of my complicated emotions throughout my life. Going through my formative years without my gift and love of dance would have shaped me into an entirely different person. Dance was my discipline, my passion, my responsibility, my integrity, my empathy, my perfectionism, my obsession, my flexibility, my control, and, above all, my existence. Now that I am unable to move as fluidly as I once was, I feel a bit lost. When I think of dance, I think of love; but until recently, I never realized that my love for dance was enhanced by another art form that stole my heart long ago: music. 

I have a memory I think of often. It was a Saturday and I was at my dance studio rehearsing a contemporary ballet piece. Saturdays were often the longest days of the week for me. After a week of going to school, doing homework, and having three hours or more of dance classes each night, Saturday would come and we would work for six hours or more rehearsing for an upcoming performance. To some, this may sound brutal. To us, it was heaven. I would give anything to have those Saturdays back. 

This particular Saturday, as I mentioned, we were rehearsing a contemporary ballet piece. My dance teacher, Heather, selected a romantic Josh Groban song for us and explained her vision. She wanted the movement to match the beauty of the music. Although all of us felt we were working extremely hard, our teacher was not satisfied. In fact, she was clearly upset at our blatant disrespect for the music. She expressed how she had felt the first time she heard this piece of music. She emphasized that we clearly were not listening to it because the movement we portrayed lacked integrity. At first, we were unsure of how to take this news; after all, we had been working hard all day. How could she tell us we weren't really listening? We had heard the song a million times in rehearsals! 

Heather had us run the piece from the top again and again, but we were leaving her dissatisfied every time. No amount of lecturing was changing how we were moving across the floor. Finally, Heather stopped us. She told us we needed to take a break to really hear the music we were dancing to. She turned off all the lights in the studio and told us to lie down with our eyes closed. We did as we were told and that was the first time I truly heard the piece of music.

The music moved from the tips of my toes up through my beating heart. I felt tingles everywhere. I heard the melodic layers in the background and realized this was the first time I was really listening to the beauty of the music. The next time we ran the piece, I felt completely different and so my body moved differently, too. From then on, every time I heard that particular piece of music, I was reminded of the moment during a typical Saturday dance rehearsal that music spoke to me.

I have always had a special relationship with music. My style is eclectic (it ranges from The Beatles to Wicked to Justin Timberlake and Adele) and I like to think I have pretty good taste. However, what I love about music is how it makes me feel about life. Music has a specific quality where, like dance, it can take you away from your life for a while. How many times have you put on a Pandora radio station and completely forgotten what you were working on? Music can take you away and remind you of where you have been. It affects your mood, your demeanor, and the choices you make on a daily basis. On a rainy day, I may choose John Mayer or Coldplay as I'm driving down the street. If it's bright and sunny, I'll be listening to surf tunes from The Beach Boys or the uplifting songs of Jack Johnson. Music defines me. I always thought of myself as a dancer, but what is a dancer without music as inspiration? 

I love being able to feel so many emotions as I listen to music. I am reminded of who I was, where I've gone, and who I am starting to become. I am reminded of the choices I have made, of mistakes I have tried desperately to fix, and of relationships that simply needed to end. Music makes me sad, happy, excited, ecstatic, somber, brave, and independent. Music makes me make sense.