Back and forth, my neck pivoted to follow the artist above. She swung and released, twirled and caught, arched and repeated, time after time opening her grip to go and then fastening it once more to stay. The gymnast knitted beauty and grace onto the bars of the trapeze.
Grasping. Going. Catching. Releasing. Each action necessary to the rhythm of her art.
I focused my gaze in on the grasp and release and then, on the release alone. There! The moment when she let go and hung, suspended in space, no — flying in time — before she grabbed hold again. That moment: a moment without.
I began to count them — the number of moments without within her performance. She swung to the right, a moment without, back to the left — another moment without. Back and forth, moment after moment after moment without. In fact, I realized her routine depended fully on such moments without in order to make her performance an offering.
Until I stopped to see, I hadn’t realized. I’d assumed — for oh, so long — that the beauty of the act was the flow of the moments on the bar, stitched together in arching unison. But no, the beauty, the real beauty came in the moments without, staccatoed to punctuate the moments with. If there were no moments without, and if there were not as many moments without, there would be no daring presentation.
How like life! And how like me to miss the reality of how very knitted together moments with are with moments without. Day and night. Summer and winter. Youth and age. Life and death. Grasping and releasing. Holding on and letting go.
And so I turn my newly trained eye back to my span of years with its ongoing parentheses and ellipses, with its pauses and sighs, with its red lights and stop signs, with its sick days and cancelled appointments, with its white space and blank canvases. I squintingly reconsider my former conclusions of value and valuelessness.
I learn to recognize the essence and necessity of the moment without — yes for what it brings to the moments with — but also for what it is, and isn’t, on its own.