Hartmut Rosa is a sociologist and author of a very big and good book entitled, Resonance. He also wrote a book entitled, Acceleration. Acceleration he sees as one of the major problems of our time, and Resonance he sees as the solution. The more I read Rosa, the more I think I have been a teacher of Resonance for a half century. And I think Rosa is most decidedly onto something. I just wrote him a letter. Now, I am deciding whether or not to send it to him. First, I will send it to you. I welcome your thoughts.
A student of mine, Bettina Kiesbye, who met you and was much impressed with your work, spoke about your work at our school because she felt that your work expressed the overarching philosophy and purpose of our work, resonance.
Having founded my school in 1982, I have spend my entire adult life as a teacher devoted to awakening resonance between people and the immediate world surrounding them. I am a somatically based teacher so I found your chapter on Bodily Relationships to the World most enlightening and affirming. Your chapter title could virtually be the name for my work.
For 50 years, I have worked with people who often find themselves dissatisfied, disconnected, hurting in some way and my job is to bring them back into balance, physically and psychologically, that is, back into resonance within themselves and their world. Over that half century, I have discerned a contextual model, my Libenswelt if you will, of ever-present relationships in which every person’s life unfolds. I found, like you, that the solution to people’s life problems, to their unhappiness, lay not so much in the particular content of their lives as it does in their relationship to the ever-present contextual framework in which their lives happen. I found that once these relationships are restored, once they regain their resonant balance, a tremendous sense of support returns, a sense of no longer being alone and isolated. They now feel alive in a living world, a world they can touch and that immediately touches them back, a world of mutuality.
Here is the model. I have no idea why it took me a half century to see it. It all seems so simple and self evident now. Below the model, I very briefly describe each relationship. I have many names for these relationships – the universal, ever-present constants, realities, and I also refer to them affectionately as my “friends-for-life”. In this age of acceleration, something tells me you are a very busy man. If you can find the time, I would be most grateful for your critique and suggestions. I am so glad to have run into your work.
The Universal, Ever-Present Contextual Framework in Which Our Lives Unfold
Our Ten Friends for Life
1) Gravity and 5) the Ground
At every moment of our lives, we live in earth’s gravitational field, on the earth, in its troposphere, and under its ozone umbrella. Few people are taught how to cultivate their very physical relationship with gravity and the ground. Most do not know how to align themselves with it, how to awaken a felt sense of this ever-present relationship in a profoundly physical way, that is, as they breathe, speak, eat, sit, stand, walk, work, rest, and sleep.
7) Sensory Receptivity and 3) Movement
Though we are sensory-motoric creatures, in our over-accelerated world, our sensorial life is overridden by our motoric life. We are sensory deprived but we are so sensory deprived that we cannot sense our own sensory deprivation. Unbeknownst to us, we have become human doings rather than human beings. We cannot move well unless our movements are accurately and plentifully informed through our kinesthetic and proprioceptive senses. We cannot move well unless we can rest well. We cannot move well unless we know how to be still.
8) Time and 2) Space
It seems Chronos is now our dominant system of time. We need to restore Kairos, what I call Biological Time. Now, it is time to eat. Now it is time to sleep. Now it is time to speak. Now it is time to refrain from speaking. There are as well cyclical temporal rhythms to which we can become attuned, or not. The moon. The sun. The seasons. The seasons of our lives.
There is space within us, space between us and objects and subjects, and there is space all around us. Almost no one knows how to teach us to see and relate to space in a way that helps us know where we are in relation to everything around us. Good artists learn to see and sense space as real, as existing, as alive. Monet writes, “I do not paint what I see; I paint what is between what I see and me.”
9) Self and 10) Others
Physiologically, we may be one, indivisible, but experientially we are not. We have an intra-personal relationship with ourselves. We live with a roommate who sometimes we like and sometimes not so much. By others, I mean what David Abrams refers to as both the human world and the more-than-human-world. For me, animate or inanimate, every one and every thing is a subject, existing in its own way, worthy of respect. Buber, I think, may be talking about Resonance when referring to I-You relationships.
4) Constants and 6) Uncertainty
By constants, I mean all of the above and one more, uncertainty. Sensing these constants are, well, constant, always there, always with me, always relating to me, makes me feel that I am always in good company, never alone. A truth arises, “I don’t have to go it alone. I don’t have to do everything by myself. I am not on my own. These constants are always relating to me, supporting me.” Am I relating to them? That is the question. Of course I am, but am I aware of these relationships, of the quality of these relationships, am I consciously attending to them, cultivating them? Can I sense them? Can I experience them viscerally? Can I receive them? Can I appreciate them? Can I love them? Can I love these relationships? Can I wed myself to them, vow to love them in sickness and in health, until death do us part?
And finally, uncertainty. Can I learn to relate to uncertainty, not in fear but in openness, openness to the unknown, to the mystery of my life and to the mystery of the world? Can I embrace uncertainty, trust it, surrender to it?
A Note on Your Idea of Deceleration Not Being the Solution
I confess to, as yet, not having finished reading Resonance. And I have not yet read Acceleration. I look forward to reading more. That said, I will dare to say something about this idea which makes good sense to me.
From my observations, most trained, and a few naturally gifted people, are able to decelerate “internally”, a kind of inverse response to external acceleration. I am thinking of certain rescue workers, fire fighters, athletes, martial artists, and performing artists who can move at lightning speed when necessary. These few are capable of responding to external acceleration, a quick jab, a fast ball, by internally decelerating, by a quieting of the nervous system. They become a still point in a turning world. They too are moving at lightning speed but that is not how they experience it. To them the world is in slow motion and they are in slow motion. But nothing is slowing down; the spaces between the seconds are opening up!
At 71, more and more, not because of my age but because of decades of cultivating and teaching resonance, I find myself lingering, savoring, bathing, basking in the light of my brief existence. T.S. Eliot sums it up for me when he writes, “The inner freedom from the practical desire, the release from action and suffering, release from the inner and the outer compulsion, yet surrounded by a grace of sense.