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  • Paola Napolitano

Il Corpo Umano, The Human Body - From Static to Staying in the Moment

I still remember the editions of ‘’Il Corpo Umano’’ (the Human Body) back in the 80’s.

I used to collect each piece of the body that came with the weekly magazine and VHS cartoons illustrating the workings of this fascinating machine that is the human body. I was looking forward to completing this big puzzle, and being able to complete this little plastic statue.


I soon developed a passion towards dance, music and singing. It was not until a very long break that my conception around the body started to mold around various professional experiences and movers I have met along the path.

I got fascinated at the idea we could experience movement rather than interpret movement through our body. For the first time in 2015, I started to contemplate the idea of movement rather than dance, of agency rather than executor, of attending rather than controlling, of stillness as an action rather than an absence.


I gradually landed in the fields of somatics, which although still considered contradictory in its semantics, gave a wider space to breath and connect to my unique way of living.


Back in 2018, a change in my practices led me to walk in therapeutic settings. Contrarily to my previous decade during which my main focus was my-self, I started to look after the other. Me in relation with an-other. Needless to mention, how scary it was to feel the burden of this responsibility. The difference was that, compared to when I was responsible for dance students and play creatively together to an extent, this time I had to care together and establish another level of dialogue where intimate sharing takes place.


My inquisitive and relentless spirit brought me to take a Master in Professional Practice, Somatic Studies in 2021. I had probably looked for an opportunity like this to open my own pathway of research and create my own perception and ideas of body and movement.


Having experienced such a pleasant opening in getting familiar with ideas such as ‘embodiment’, ‘inhabiting’, ‘body agency’, at the question of where my stance is in terms of positivist or non-positivist approaches to the body, I was sure the answer would be the latter.


In answering I have probably detached myself from the choice and opted for the emotionally most convenient one.

They talked about process-oriented and not product-oriented. Yet, it is so easy to carve out a fictitious robe to start a journey and make the assumption that the lived experience will go in a certain way, when in reality it is not. More importantly, we sometimes exclude other very important elements from our academic journey, which are our affects, unexpected life circumstances, rewards and defeats.


During my bereavement for the loss of a family member this summer, someone recommended to read the book ‘How to Land-Finding Ground in an Unstable World’ by Ann Cooper Albright. I could not find any other words so relevant to that moment but ‘Instead of being nervous about keeping our balance in a world in which so many aspects of our lives are in danger of falling apart, we need to accept our falls with grace and learn how to land with intention’ (Cooper Albright, 2019).


It is about surrendering. And it’s just when you feel the ground has been taken off from under your feet, that you are confronted with the fear of being, while you need to let go of the pride of doing.


Going back to the plastic statue and the misconceptions about body as a static entity of life, which most of us have been exposed to in common dualistic school curricula, precludes us from enjoying the natural act of falling and staying in the fall. That act is the process. That act is the un-learning I could not grasp in the beginning. That act is likely to be the way out or through my deadlocks.


Today marks the beginning of my new journey. Every day, every moment is a beginning. Today’s stone is I will approach different readings on phenomenology and the lived experience of one's body towards my research inquiry.


With this recipe in mind of being in the moment, I will do my best to refrain from scaffolding my next page of my discovery journey with the assumptions of what I already knew. It may sound intimidating perhaps, but it’s the same feeling you have when you jump off a rock to splash into the crystalline waters of the sea. You need to let it go.


References

Cooper Albright, A., 2019. How to Land-Finding Ground in an Unstable World. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

*Original statue from the series 'Esplorando il Corpo Umano', Once Upon a Time... Life - Wikipedia

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