Do you know what a “still point” is?
It doesn’t have anything to do with sitting still, if that is what you’re thinking.
In one of T.S. Eloit’s poems, entitled ‘Four Quartets’, there are a few lines, about halfway into the second of five poemlets that make up this poem … anyway, one particular line is about a still point.
The line reads:
“at the still point, there the dance is”
Such a simple line. Interpretation wise, it goes like this …
Have you ever been somewhere or with someone and it was such an amazingly wonderful experience that it was like time was not moving forward or backward? That it seemed as if you were just standing still and taking in all of the moment’s beauty. For example, your first kiss, making love with someone you love deeply, receiving public recognition for something you’ve done … something so significant that at that precise moment, nothing else in the world mattered at all. It could even be something less special … like skinny dipping with some friends or hitting a home run in softball or a goal in soccer.
It is at times like these that there is the dance. The dance of life, what we all live for yet some of us just don’t recognize. We get so bogged down in the past or pulled into our “tomorrows” that we lose touch with these dances. But it is these small “dancing moments” that stop time, that we need to touch, to recognize and to connect with.
Where is all this leading? To the common dancefloor we all share. Where we, either now or in the past have danced “THE Dance”. I am certain Eliot did not realize when ‘Four Quartets’ was written that for many, the dance would mean something different, yet in many ways, on many levels be exactly the same. Where we attempt to make the right moves, say the right things … where we extend our hand to another and take their hand in ours … where we take the steps that lead toward a relationship and beyond … where we share, give and take … perhaps make commitments and form bonds. It is something that can last a lifetime, can take on many forms, none of which should be negative. It is an without exploration, a journey … and without reaching out and taking a partner, there can be no dance.
And the poem that inspried this contribution? I’ll share it with you.
Garlic and sapphires in the mud
Clot the bedded axle-tree.
The thrilling wire in the blood
Sings below inveterate scars
Appeasing long forgotten wars.
The dance along the artery
The circulation of the lymph
Are figured in the drift of stars
Ascend to summer in the tree
We move above the moving tree
In light upon the figured leaf
And hear upon the sodden floor
Below, the boarhound and the boar
Pursue their pattern as before
But reconciled among the stars.
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.
Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time
time is conquered.