The past month, for me, can be characterized by two interconnected concepts: Chance and Change. Change can be defined as “making the form, nature, content, or future course of something different from what it is or from it would be if left alone." Recently, I’ve started two new jobs (which will drastically change my future course and have already changed the content of my life) as well as moved to a new apartment (altering the form and nature in which I carry on my day to day). Chance can be defined as “the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled; often associated with luck or fortune.” It is by Chance that one of these new jobs is within walking distance of my new apartment and the other allows me to work from home (the apartment came first, the jobs offers unexpectedly after). It is also by Chance that by not getting cast in a project I auditioned for, I instead was cast in Yuval Sharon’s adaptation of John Cage’s Europeras 1&2, (which is entirely composed by chance operations) and still, by Chance, that Yuval (unbeknownst of my new jobs or recent move) gifted me a book about Change as a closing night present. The serendipity of these simple yet profound instances within just a few short weeks lead me to contemplate the connection between Chance and Change. After all, anytime Chance occurs, a Change is likely to follow, and any Change we make is an invitation for Chance to step in.
So, in sitting down to write this, I began by opening the dictionary app on my phone only to first be invited to click on the word of the day. Of course, with Chance being the theme of the moment, I had to know, so I clicked:
Word of the Day: Voluptuary; a person whose life is devoted to the pursuit and enjoyment of luxury and sensual pleasure.
Cue resistance and resentment.
What could this word have to do with the entry I’m about to write? It certainly doesn’t pertain to me. A life devoted to luxury? I’m just a humble professional dancer, with only enough material belongings to fit inside of my small non-luxury car, who until only recently lived in a small guest unit with a mattress and folding card table as his own furniture. Certainly, this word will not fit into my theme.
Cue re-examination and reflection.
On the other hand, the second half of the definition might have some truth to it. A devotion to sensual pleasure could be exemplified by a body in play. The physical sensation of enjoying one’s body, and the sharing of that joy, does feel aligned with my pursuits. But does that make me a voluptuary? The definition seems to allude to self-indulgence and gluttony more than joy and play.
Cue realization and recognition.
Then it hits me: As I sit in my new 3 story Hollywood townhouse apartment, sipping my organic artisan coffee, I begin to understand that while Chance has been a welcomed participant in the makeup of my life, it is a series of very conscious choices that have lead to my recent Changes. Changes that very much include luxury and sensual pleasures. Perhaps this Chance encounter with today’s word of the day is an invitation to check in and acknowledge the many Changes I have made in the past year.
None of this is to say that a nonmaterialistic, minimalist lifestyle is in anyway better or worse than a lifestyle of comforts and pleasure-seeking. I am not trying to suggest that luxury nor simplicity should be categorized as either good or bad. However it does bring up a lesson I’ve been instilling in my dance and movement students: In order for growth, we have to know both who we are currently and who we would like to be. For most of us, identifying who we would like to be is the easy part. Whether it be a physical goal (to be stronger or more flexible) or a professional goal (to make more money or start a new job) or a personal goal (to be a better friend or start a family) we can usually recognize the direction we’d like to go. We are then, by default, also identifying an element of who we are now: who we are not, yet. However, most of the time we stop there, without identifying the other very powerful element for who we are now: the acknowledgement of who we are no longer.
So while part of me may feel uneasy and unfamiliar in this new proverbial skin (luxury home included), the reality of the situation is that I am now in a much more apt position to serve and promote growth for others (and enjoy a nice cup-of-joe or two along the way). While just one year ago most of my time and energy was devoted to my own needs and wants, my new work positions have far more concern on the betterment of others. But without this recognition - if I unconsciously clung to the self who once wrote these reflections at that old folding card table - there would be absolutely no Chance for Change.