Pole dancing and other edges
I’ve just been trying to decide whether or not to take part in a Toastmaster’s competition. What would I talk about? Something that makes people take another look at their lives. Something edgy. Eureka!
The final frontier
“What do you want the speech to actually do?” said Robert, his spoon floating over a big bowl of fruit salad and cottage cheese.
“Push people to the edge, their edges, in the nicest possible way.”
“Like Richard Branson, currently flying at the edge of space?”
“Exactly like that.” I thought. I don’t happen to know Branson personally, but you can’t help hearing about him, can you? From what I’ve pieced together, and I may be wrong, Branson found his edges early on. He started on the fringes of music, and he’s always been interested in pushing the boundaries of flight – balloon distances, the Virgin flight business, and now this. As I see it, his interest in edges is the driving force behind his businesses and personal interests. Thinking about Branson leads me to the idea that edges actually drive people.
On the edges of existence
In my experience, to find the edges in your life you have to be observant. I listened to the World Service Outlook programme this morning (Saturday 1 February 2014) One of the features was a story about a South African woman called Khanyisile Motsa. She was a successful working woman, driving into work every morning. Each day she noticed children standing by the traffic lights. Big expensive cars would stop and pick them up. A friend told her that these children were prostitutes. She decided to go and talk to a group of them to find out if it was true. She discovered that these were orphaned children from nine years old – and yes, what her friend had told her was true.
“No, this cannot happen here” she said to herself and she immediately opened up her house as a refuge. Since then she has started the House of Hope for orphans. There are two in South Africa at Mamelodi and Temba and one in Whunga, Zimbabwe.
Now this is what I mean about being observant. These children just touched the edge of her existence and she noticed them.
Joining the edges
In the face of human suffering and difficulty, to talk about painting, drawing and crafts seems inane. But actually it’s not. That is the whole point of edges – you can find them at every level and aspect of life. I think (do you agree?) that that’s the point of art too. I’m a bit of a romantic, so my take is that all the edges join together to form a patchwork quilt, a global comfort blanket if you like.
In the jobs I’ve had, I’ve found edges where I've really enjoyed problem solving. These edges are at the rifts of complaint and satisfaction, confusion and flow, muddle and clarity. 'Artist' just happens to be one of those jobs.
With my artist hat on at the moment, like Branson, I’m struggling with gravity. Working on a series of expressionist abstracts I want some figurative shapes to float in space. I don’t think a life drawing class will help me. They rarely use levitation as part of the process. So I have looked at the edges to see what I can find. What is there on the edge of my life that will supply the answer? I recently saw something on TV about pole dancing as a health and fitness sport. In an episode of Hotel Inspector I saw a hotel room with a shiny pole in it. The universe has clearly been working hard to solve my problems for me because then on YouTube I found the winners of Pole Dancing Competitions. I can stop and start the video and the models pose uncomplainingly, defying gravity, for as long as I like.
There you are you see. As well as life’s difficulties, life’s answers are also found on the edges.
Share a problem or answer from an edge!