• Posted on November 9, 2014 at 11:38 am

incremental counterIt’s my birthday. The one I got awarded a new certificate for – but I wonder whether to celebrate the July one next year anyway as a second birthday. It isn’t important really, just a year comes round again, notches up the counter and it flips into a new number. The feeling made more sense in a pre-digital age, with little wheels turning on a car dashboard, or a tape recorder. They started to twitch and turn just before, clicked decisively into place and looked really settled for a long time. Age notching doesn’t just happen, it takes weeks. Do I keep saying I’m the current year’s age, or do I start saying ‘I’m almost n+1’?

I’m a day older than yesterday, that’s all. Each day, joined to the last and the next, with imperceptible joins. When, even, does a fraction of a second of yesterday become today? There is only continuity.

What does it mean to celebrate, then? My birthday this year was rescued from absolute nothingness by going out with friends. I really enjoyed it. I shared the experience of the lost family birthday with one of them. Then we shared ideas of molecular existence, the infinitesimal, the absence of real boundary between things, the resonance of everything, the connectedness, the oneness. As one does … My greatest happiness last night was this sharedness.

One of the deepest things I’ve shared on this blog over the time it’s been here, is the way that being trans*, going through this strange thing called transition, and becoming authentic and so much more self-aware, has two paradoxical effects. At once it separates you out, distinguishes you and sets you apart, in a place where many people can talk to you, but not touch you. It is a very isolating experience in many ways, and you realise the immense loneliness of being human. And yet at the same time it is an incredibly powerful feeling of self-enactment, self-actualisation, right there at the pinnacle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And whatever Maslow said, transition can put you there when any or all of the other layers are pulled away in the process.

My friend said to me last night: ‘You, know, I’m so happy right now I could die and it would be OK’. Well, paraphrased, but precisely the sentiment I felt at the same stage in my own transition, so I really did know what she meant. Joined-up life, joined-up thinking. It somehow made sense of the loneliness of being human.

Connectedness and learning

Again this week has taught me new things. It started with a need to know how to connect to a database (just a techie facet of life), which turned into a need to pick up old connections with people, who connected with people they knew, which turned into exactly the conversation I was hoping for, that connected my need with someone else’s capability and a sharing understanding. There was a real sense of relief in the connection.

And then there was the old friend from way back, whose connection was lost when I transitioned in 2012. Through awkwardness, disapproval, simple lack of understanding – or even just not noticing – when my online presence turned over like the gradual counter wheel, after ticking and twitching for a while, a number of contacts were lost. Transition wasn’t a day, it was a time when the little wheel showing M/F finally flipped and settled. Anyone not really looking was a bit startled, but there was no discontinuity, no disconnect. And yesterday an old friend messaged me and we reconnected.

On Friday night, the Five Rhythms dance again took me by the hand and led me on, in this continuous wave of life, teaching, nurturing, joining things up. I can’t describe it exactly, but it was something else clicking inside me, moving the little counters of realisation and understanding over into a new place. As the single biggest influence in my new life, alone, making sense of it all, losing so much, growing so much more, I now expect dance to be my teacher. A couple of weeks ago it even threw me out, with a simple message that if I allow myself to relinquish my autonomy and self-direction, the dance stops. But this time it was all about connecting with people.

One particular friend there sees my dance, its layers and transformations over time. We share observation of this evolution, of my dance that came from nowhere with real poise and expression, and that continues to become more whole. Balance has merged into flow, on my feet and onto on the floor and back again. My own sense of connectedness has grown into a new continuity. Experiencing this and with confirmation from another, is wonderful, because otherwise it could all be just inside my own head. Instead, whatever is coming out from within, is becoming part of a shared world.

Dancing with others this week (it doesn’t always happen) brought a whole new sense of connection, and an understanding of connection. It’s a freedom to connect, a shared knowing, that is not ‘relationship’ but everything to do with relating, a telling of self to another. There was fun, there was emotion, there was trust, and there was implicit understanding, and a freedom to encounter and to detach. I think I am beginning to understand where the connectedness of being human lies.

Last night (and I hesitate still to open up on this one) I was also shown something else. In the afternoon I had chanced on a radio interview that involved, age, disability, sex, intimacy, touch. Some just let the connections of physical loving go; some find it in small things and recognise its preciousness. But for everyone, it is there if you want to find it. I don’t have a lot of touching in my life from day to day. I can’t remember the last time anyone lovingly stroked my cheek (and it is so lovely and smooth these days!). I treasure the hugs I receive, and these are more varied and numerous than they ever used to be. They used to be all from one person, now from many but never the one. My greatest fear has been becoming unable to love and be loved ever again, as ‘the one’. Last night, very simply, I came to understand that I can. No more than that; just a realisation, an acknowledgement, a reassurance that yes, I can have those feelings, that this could happen. It was like making a connection again, joining nerves. The little counter wheels twitched for change …

All in all, I think connectedness is about far more than being friends or friendly, more than being family or familiar. It’s about a profound understanding of being who we are in a simultaneously individual and shared consciousness universe. I have learned to be alone, and I have learned that I am not alone.


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