Making something out of nothing

By Elana Jacobs

Elana Jacobs making itAnaïs Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

I use this quote as a reminder that the life I live and the work I do is a process of continuous unfolding.  If I pay close attention to this day-to-day humdrum life, I start to appreciate tiny moments and observe things evolving. The changes may seem slight, like watching a new friend one day out of the blue become my confidant. It could be that knowing feeling when a romance has reached its end.  Sometimes, if I am lucky, it is when a piece of personal choreography or art has suddenly shifted into something I hadn’t planned for consciously.  I know that I am “making it” in my eyes when I am staying keen on that moment when change is ready to occur. So often, it is easy for me to go through the motions and become unaware of the details of the seemingly same every-day.  But whenever I realize that the mundane to-do lists, cycles of thoughts, and laundry folding are actually beautiful moments in the now, that will become beautiful moments in the now, I feel proud of myself. I feel like I am making it.  “Making it” is the decision to recognize and retain what is around us. When we take note of a moment, an instance, or an interaction, we are choosing. These choices of what to let float to the top of our mundane ever-so-similar lives is what makes us each unique and interesting.

I try and think this way as a choreographer in the studio with dancers, and it helps me notice their innate beauty without choreography. I try with choreography to reveal the performers inconspicuous beauty.  If I think this way in other moments of my life, I am full of gratefulness and I am my happiest.

The moment I think of “making it” as a desire for success, I stop looking at the beauty in the mundane and start seeing the mundane in beauty. It feels like an unquenchable thirst.  It does not get me going. I feel uninspired.

When I remember how specific each person is around me and how beautiful their specificity is, I am truly inspired and can make something out of nothing (“making it” in my eyes).

List of examples of “making it”:

1. turning a horrible day into a comedy routine

2. making true prolonged effortful eye contact with a stranger

3. noticing the sweet-salty- then sweet again craving

4. folding laundry for meditation

5. wondering how cool it would be if lip-synching was a real art form

6. getting a check for 100 dollars for a month’s worth of art making and splitting it between 3 people for a night of drinks and belly laughter.

7. taking a 5 year old child’s advice really serious; I mean therapy serious.

8. crying or laughing really hard at a live performance.

9. in rehearsal,  becoming uncomfortable and then somehow comfortable again.

10. turning an idea into an actual creation – not just in my imagination, but an actual creation that other people can confirm is a form of art; what a thing that is!

Elana Jacobs is a Seattle-based choreographer and the artistic director of CabinFever, a performance company which uses homes as the venue and families as the impetus for creation. Elana graduated from Skidmore College in 2010 where she studied dance, choreography, and exercise science. She also works as a Pilates instructor.

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Photo by Joy Jacobs

3 Responses to “Making something out of nothing”

  1. Megan Williams

    Elana- nice surprise to come across your musings . Sounds like your life is full and happy.
    I love your list. Laundry is always a meditation for me.I am starting grad school this week, and will take pocket many of your thoughts for further use…..
    all the best, Megan Williams

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