Friday, September 1, 2017

Size 12 Intentions

I just returned from a walk with my four legged fur friend. A walk for both exercise and training. She's two years old and smart as a five year old human (at minimum). I taught her how to catch by saying "catch" and throwing a toy to her which she watched approach and bounce off her nose. I picked it up and said "watch me....this is catching....catch" throwing the toy up in the air while saying "catch" and then grabbing it in my mouth. "I sure hope you got that because this toy is dirty! Catch!" I tossed it over and she snatched it out of the air like a pro. Point being is that she's highly capable of learning and seems to enjoy it. What she also enjoys is thinking she's top dog or can at least run with them. This returns us to the walk.

Every topic has a potentially overwhelming number of points of view (especially when you get online) so I in no means claim to know how to best work with canines. One of the first methods I heard for training animals was by some famous Hollywood animal wrangler whose name I cannot remember. His method however, made sense so I have worked in that system. The short version (that I recall) was this: Get the animal to learn to pay attention to you. This requires no strict protocols or complicated routines. Procure a long lead (several meters in length) attach it to a collar that constricts in some way (his belief was that the pinch collar was actually more humane than the choker collar but I digress). Wander around a space large enough that the dog can run well beyond the limits of the lead if detached. Set the pup loose and do your thing. As you both move in varying directions the student begins to learn that it has a limit and then that it is defined by the position of the teacher. Of course this isn't likely completely apparent at first but over a length of time you shorten the lead till it's no longer necessary and they trot along at your heel. This is what my little friend is in the process of learning.

Still being a bright and perky little fur ball, Tesla (that's her name), it's natural for her to be wanting to inspect everything along the way or run off when she see's a cat. That's why we take walks with the lead; so she see what life is all about before taking the restrictions off. It's what childhood is for us - a perspective we then operate on subconsciously. I still haven't talked about the walk really have I? Due to walking with the limits of visibility and unpredictability of drivers on the streets around my home, I opted for a shorter lead. This inclines Tesla to pull ahead right to where it's uncomfortable which is obviously counter productive. I began walking a bit more slowly while making random movements on occasion which seemed to make sense for her since she began hanging back just a bit so she could see what I was doing. There is no need for this to be a vicious process, though it may induce a bit of pain, but pain and pleasure are the programming matrices of life.

[side bar]
Camera dollies are used on a daily basis in the film business to adjust camera height on the fly, create movement - a lot of reasons. Many dolly grips have a monitor which allows them to see exactly what the camera sees but it's amateur hour to rely on one. As my buddy Paul told me when I first pushed a  dolly (not to be confused with A dolly) "if you are making a move with the actor, look at their feet not the monitor. The monitor will fuck you every time". This of course all while smoking a Camel unfiltered cigarette next to the no smoking sign. *hyperbole level 50%.*
Turns out that you don't spend 17 years doing something and not know a thing or two about it: the monitor will, to be blunt, fuck you every time. Even if you look at another part of the actor's body, say the shoulders, you will still be late because their feet have already begun a motion that the rest of the body is catching up with. It would take a frame jarring dose of acceleration at this point to achieve what was intended in the camera rehearsal.
[end ]

What's all this mumbo jumo about dogs, camera dollies and feet? It's simple: whichever way your feet go, you go. In general we would say that is the direction in which we are looking however, this is not always the case. How about when you are startled and your body seems to want to jump in opposing directions and you get tangled up. You can walk or run whilst not looking in front of you but a collision is highly probable. Your feet go where you intend but not necessarily where you are attentive. Vision or "looking" are under the heading called "our attention". I can look at something with my eyes while intently focusing on listening but the image is relatively ignored by my attention because it is on the auditory reception. Until today I haven't thought about my feet a considerable amount because well, I haven't thought about much of my body. Recently, It's started piping up and asking that I treat it with more kindness. The chiropractor told me that I'm a bit of an oxymoron - super flexible but with muscles that seem to be overcompensating for that flexibility by stringing themselves taut like a guitar. A fitting analogy for how I've felt psychically (this is meant as every form of "non-physical" experience).

I've read of a practice that some indigenous tribes perform where a group of people all walk single file attempting to synchronize not only their footsteps but also their breathing. Following someone's footsteps requires a good bit of attention not to mention adding the breathing synchronization. The attention however is set by the intention: to move as one. Purely due to our form, our feet are the first thing to move, short of physical anomaly, so the matter of feet is purely academic. Where is your intention? That's the important question. If your attention and intention are misaligned, you're bound for a run in either with an object or the end of the lead. As I made the random changes in direction on the walk today, weaving around imaginary obstacles, I thought "is this why life takes us on so many whacky journeys? So that we learn to hang back a bit and trot along trusting that the direction the feet are going is cool?" At that point whether a lead was attached or not becomes irrelevant. Trust and control are opposing concepts yet you could say that "constantly being controlled by the universe leads to trusting it".

"Welcome to life! Where are you headed and for how long will you be here? Somewhere and Forever? Fantastic choices. Please step over here to be controlled by immigration. Have wonderful day - and night of course."

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