A long long time ago, I took a mime class with a wonderful teacher, Dan Kamin. I’d met Dan when I was in 8th grade. I was a volunteer (yes, this was the wild and wooly 70s when such things were possible in that unhelicopter parent era) at a summer day camp in Pittsburgh, and Dan was one of the teachers there. He taught movement and acting to kids. I saw him perform a couple of times, and I was captivated. I wrote him fan letters. He wrote back, which impressed the hell out of me. Dan was is an expert on Chaplin’s films and his movement, and later on, Robert Downey Jr. would hire him as a coach on the movie Chaplin. Dan would go on to create the comedy scenes within the movie.
I was a terrible student, clumsy and self-conscious. I have a bad habit of bring my shoulders up almost to my ears, and I still have almost no idea where my core is. I think it might be in Switzerland. But Dan was a gentle, thoughtful teacher. He said one thing that has stuck with me through the decades. His baby daughter was learning to walk, and it fascinated him. The longer he watched her, though, the more he realized something: she wasn’t walking.
She was trying not to fall.
I suspect I have spent a lot of my life trying not to fall, literally, metaphorically. Putting on weight to keep myself grounded. Holding my breath. Pulling myself back from an opportunity–or something dangerous. I don’t believe this is a bad way to live, or a good way. It’s just one way to approach–or distance yourself–from the world.
Or maybe I am stretching a metaphor until it snaps? Let’s see.