There’s a scene in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where the two infamous bank robbers – recently arrived in Bolivia and keen to go straight – seek out jobs as bank roll guards at a mining company.
Their potential employer, Percy Garris, challenges Sundance to shoot a matchbox lying on the ground some twenty feet away. Sundance responds by taking a gunslingers stance, spinning his pistols from their holsters, sizing up the target.
But Garris tells Sundance that he just wants to see him shoot straight, nothing fancy. So counter to his own style Sundance stands still, carefully aims his pistol, and then misses his target.
Can I move? asks Sundance suddenly over his shoulder. What do you mean move? replies Garris, at which Sundance ducks and draws, firing from the hip, obliterating the matchbox with a couple of lightening shots.
I’m better when I move he says.
Of course it’s true, we are better and more resilient when we’re flexible and dynamic, moving with each situation, rather than getting ourselves tangled up in fixed and rigid ways of seeing and being.
An essential part of our Mindfulness practice it to put aside our habitual and conditioned views about ourselves, other people and life, and meet each moment as it actually is, free from preconceptions. Through this practice we come to see that life is not the fixed entity we have come to believe.
In fact, life is movement. It is an ever-shifting, fluid experience characterised by change and impermanence. Indeed the word ‘universe’ means ‘one movement’ a total and all- inclusive motion which nothing stands apart from. It can be profoundly freeing to see that life is more like water than concrete and more like the wind than mountains.
As we become familiar with this fresh way of experiencing life we discover that our perspectives soften and open-up, becoming more aligned with how life actually is, rather than our assumptions about it. There can be a natural falling away of habits, reactions and beliefs that no longer seem in tune with our experience.
The hard and the stiff will be broken says the Tao Te Ching, the soft and the supple will prevail and this applies not only to the world of objects but to our inner-world of perspectives too.
The more we can train ourselves to see each moment clearly, the more skilful we become at dancing with life, rather than getting stuck in it. We allow ourselves to become the beating heart of each living moment, rather than retreating into our heads.
Can I move? asks Sundance, but the real question is not can we move; we are movement simply because life is movement. The real question is can we begin to recognise ourselves as that? Live as that?
Because, as Sundance shows us, we’re better when we move.