I have a friend named Blue (yes, we’re all named after colors, didn’t you know that?) who is a legend within the small movement arts community that I travel in. He is known not only for his ability with aerial performance but also for his mastery of multiple-person choreography and staging.
But that’s not what makes him legendary. Sure, he can teach a class on rigging or lead a group through a centering ritual to increase their mindfulness, but he steps beyond expertise and into epic when the classes are done and he begins to dance.
In the open spaces of improvised aerial and floor work, Blue will find a partner (or partners) and create a space of amazing passion and ephemeral beauty. Then he will smile, thank them, and move on to find another partner. He will dance and move in an entirely different way, playing off of the particulars of physicality and mood and space and materials, and again create something amazing…and thank them, and find another person to dance with.
And another. And another. I have literally found him contemplating his phone at dinner, trying to find someone to meet at 4:30am, because he planned on playing all night long and into the dawn. It’s not just the joy of the dance that draws him; it’s part of his own personal quest to be the best version of himself he can possibly be.
At one point he kept moving at an event through 26 hours straight of dancing, teaching, and performing. The question I had for him was: how does he find the energy to keep going?
The 30-Minute Energy Window
It’s not the heady thrill of youth, nor is he some fitness addict into marathon performances (well, he kind of is, but not in a regimented way). He has two secrets that keep him going:
The first is a matter of timing. “After I get done with a scene, a dance, whatever, I have about 30 minutes to find another one,” he told me. “If I can find something to engage my skills and passion in that time, then I’m good. I can just keep on going.” If not, he admits, it all catches up with him and he will be asleep almost before his head hits the pillow.
The second, though, is the real key: “I can do this because I love what I do.” At the risk of incurring the wrath of Huey Lewis, it’s the power of his love for his art that keeps him going.
And going. And going. And going.
I don’t know if it’s possible for anyone else to channel their passion for their work or their art quite in the way that my friend Blue does. But it occurs to me that when my energy is flagging that instead of reaching for another cup of coffee or even trying to do a workout, the thing that might keep me going would be to either switch to some activity that I’m truly passionate about…or else take a moment to reflect on why I care about whatever it is I am doing.
Because frankly, if I could harness even a fraction of the power of Blue, I’d be good for a long time.