Kaya Olsen

April 21, 2021

Patterns & Presence

Returning home after 16 months abroad feels like a dream. Not in the sense of it being a goal, but more in the sense of it being surreal. Everything has changed, yet nothing has. What has been, still is – the same patterns, the same routines, the same personalities. It's suffocating.

Being confronted to starkly with my past life has given me a whole new awareness of patterns and how we tend to get stuck in them. The days look the same, the behaviors and words of the people around me are predictable, and everywhere I look I see roles defined by clear-cut patterns without novelty and life. Where's the chaos? Where's the spontaneity? Where's the unpredictability and the surprises?

Seeing all those patterns around me, I naturally look within: To what extent am I just an amalgam of patterns too, stuck in an idea of who I am (supposed to be)? And how can I avoid it and encourage a freedom of being in myself? As an expressive dancer, I know that I also have a tendency to move in certain patterns, but I also always try to challenge myself to explore different movements and different bodyparts – both in my dance and in my life. I don't want to get stuck, but it's so easy to fall into old patterns in moments of unawareness. Our autopilot is ready to take over at any time.

So what's the answer?

To me it is presence. Relentless incontestable presence. Only from a state of full presence we are able to see the world with fresh eyes time and again; to act and behave on the basis of what's actually there and not on the basis of whatever we think up in our mind (consciously and subconsciously).

Living from a center of patterns creates a stable and well-defined personality. It feels safe and gives us a sense of identity. But it also creates inertia and hinders our growth.

Living form a center of presence creates a flowingly chaotic being. It feels intense and gives us a sense of aliveness. But it requires us to surrender to the unknown and to adapt to the reality of our surroundings regardless of any expectations.

Patterns create boundaries. Presence creates freedom. Despite this being a world of constant movement – the earth spinning slowly on its axis, the universe infinitely expanding and time relentlessly passing – inertia is everywhere. And the fault is ours: We keep ourselves and each other stuck in patterns; we don't flow, we resist. I'm not much for generalizing and judging ( – if you have a different view on this, I'd love to hear your thoughts), but, jesus, I see patterns everywhere – also in the mirror – and it saddens me. More must be possible than this. 

Imagine if we could be like jazz improvisations, always in conversation with the reality of what's around us, always willing to explore and expand. Perhaps there would be less fear and more creativity, then.