The Importance of Every Moment
THE IMPORTANCE OF EVERY MOMENT
By Fiona Meyer, 1992, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
"My impression of Samuel is one of a very awake person. He's very rhythmical and varied in his expressions. He could sculpt a dialogue with his entire being. It's very refreshing to meet a person who is dedicated to living this freedom."
I can still remember that incredible feeling, that tremendous burst of excitement I had when I first ran across the ad for the 12th annual Summer Mime Workspace (1986). It was the idea of using mime as a medium for integrating body, mind and spirit that really caught me. I knew before I even got home that day that I had to study with Samuel.
Samuel was doing what I was not yet able to dream of. One of the first things I learned in the workshop was not to judge, not to put people in boxes because of what I thought they seemed. Samuel often said that he's not a human being but a human 'becoming' and I think that's really inspiring. When we pre-judge people we limit them, and by refusing to do so Samuel is able to open doors for students. To be believed in is perhaps the greatest gift one can receive. Once you have it no one can take it away.
I think that before I came to Le Centre du Silence I spent a lot of time trying to be invisible, particularly in social situations where I felt awkward and somehow unable to impress myself on the environment. The experience, which I was able to take from the school, was that we do affect things, no matter what we do that everything has its effect. Time is broken out in mime. One can breathe in and out a kingdom in seconds, that is magical to me.
There were a lot of things, which Samuel used to say that impacted my life. 'Every moment is very important,' he said. 'Every Moment' and he didn't just mean that to apply to the performance space, but to everyday. If there was ever a mundane moment with Samuel it was one that was so fully consciously aware, and never merely out of neglect. I think that my main responsibility in the workspace was to accept the challenge to wake up to life.
My impression of Samuel is one of a very awake person. He's very rhythmical and varied in his expressions. He could sculpt a dialogue with his entire being. It's very refreshing to meet a person who is dedicated to living this freedom, partly because that attitude inspires great joy and partly because that calls me to my own freedom center. So in this way, mime with Samuel is not just a study of technique and theatrical creation, it is a metaphor for life it is a call to each moment, a call to the power within and between ourselves in these very critical and transforming times we live in now.
I've always said that I never want to do a job just for the sake of doing a job. Life is too short to spend 40 hours a week in an area, which has no meaning and doesn't somehow contribute to a greater synthesis and understanding of which I am becoming.
As a special care counselor I was trained to work with a number of special populations in a variety of settings, i.e. schools, hospitals, treatment centers, local community services, foster homes etc. The need to be professional and 'appropriate' at all times was highly stressed. It was a very problem-centered approach.
We learned how to apply intervention methods to clients in need. Empirical behaviorism was popular at the time, particularly for the area in which I had chosen to work in. As an educator for children with autism it was difficult to gain any credibility if one was not a behaviorist. I knew there has to be another way; a way, which didn't dehumanize the children, and a way, which allowed them to learn from their own mistakes.
At that time I didn't know what the answers were, but I had heard about a music therapist who was doing some very interesting work with these children, so I decided to call her. Five years later I am still working for her. Her small after school program has expanded into a specialized elementary school, which is known internationally for its innovation and success in the field of autism.
After I came back from Le Centre du Silence, I was very interested in movement. My boss arranged for me to work in the gym as an assistant to the physical education. Instructor Over the years I've had the opportunity to introduce yoga relaxation and movement classes. At the same time I continued to study mime. One of my teachers was Bruce McClelland, a former student of Samuel's (1971) who had spent three years studying at Le Centre du Silence. I found certain mime techniques wonderful in the relaxation sessions.
The children really enjoyed the games of imitation and bodily exaggeration. I began to realize the importance of laughter in these sessions. I think that laughter is the ultimate massage. It wriggles and jiggles us from the inside out. It occurred to me then that mime, though it might be difficult, would certainly be possible with these children. Up until recently one of the key definitions of the autistic child has been that of a child who lacks the capacity to play and abstract reasoning. And so a very sad cycle tends to set up that the children who need the opportunity to play the most actually get it the least.
This year I am only working part time at the school, teaching contact dance two times a week. It is a gift of the job. The two women I work with are dancers trained to be educators, and I consider that to their benefit, because as artists they have a refreshing richness of spontaneity and natural ease to which the children really respond. There is a trend now to bring more and more artists into special settings. Gina Levette from the U.K. has done some excellent resource work in this area. Her book 'The Creative Tree', invaluable for anyone who wants to read more about this artist is essential. They challenge us to work from the inside out and to put the human dimension back into the human services.
Fiona Meyer is Social Worker, Therapist, artist, writer and performer . She lives in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She was the one who suggested the name of the Le Centre du Silence newsletter to be MovingEdge. Thank you, Fiona.