Johanna Richardson on Surrendering to the Movements of Life.

Seasons move. Time moves. Life moves.

In years past, I moved for movement’s sake; to keep myself the same at all costs; to play a sport, fulfill a task, to achieve a goal, to prove I could. As a child I spent my days wandering in nature and making things, for farm chores or for exploration. In school, I played sports to be part of a team and win. I felt out on my own, away from home, and everything was possible. Sport evolved, and I didn’t always meet the changing mark, but chased the strength and value it lended me. I excelled at some things, and when I didn’t at others I moved on, but not without a little feigned overconfidence and hurt feelings. As a young adult, I traveled and worked and studied. It required movement by adjustment and growth. Adjustment of expectations, capacity, style – externally and internally. I wanted to feel competent, individual, and at home with myself. Study and work in recent years made movement shift. It became a functional element to maintain health, to manage pain, to keep my mind performing well. I moved in ways I knew, ways tried and true to work, and ways that were efficient. Movement extends a little further now. There’s a bigger picture to life, yet the goal is simplified: to enjoy moving through life. I move for my sake.

Often that means moving while; while trying a new thing, rediscovering something left behind, or observing how others move around me. I started taking film photos. At 16 or 17 I got a digital camera, and I was so proud. I’d take 15 to 20 – or admittedly more – photos of each moment or scene, taking minutes to reassess and reevaluate the angle, the subject’s expression, the colour, and the composition. One day I gave my camera away, 8 years later to be given the gift of a new (but older and simpler) one. I had been craving creativity. An easy creativity – not to rush the process, but simply to drop into that space every day or every week, little set up, minimal physical elements or gear. Not a rushed or lazy easiness, but ease.

A still from the Movement by NM original short film Seasons.

Through a camera, I look around more, from a different perspective. I experience moments rather than curate them. I’m attentive and present to what the moment (actually) is. No one is seeing it with me – I like that independence and freedom. No comparison. The feeling is superficial, raw, forefront, rather than technicality. I can’t tell if a photo will turn out, and then the moment is over, the image is taken. I just forget about it. Wait and see. A few weeks later, my prints or scans roll in. I come back to the images with anticipation and eagerly remember. I see them differently. Moments suddenly become more objective, and yet more sentimental. There’s nothing to change, but there’s an enveloping fondness or softness given by space and time away. 

Abstract painting is also new. It’s not natural – not to me. There’s nothing to obsess over. With realism there’s always something to pick apart, to compare side by side, and something objective that is off, but with abstract I pick out things that I like. Whereas abstract – it’s just interpretation, uniqueness, embraced. It’s just expression. But it’s work, a brain exercise. What feels good? What has been challenging? What has been joyful?

Swimming is something I’m rediscovering. It’s not necessarily new – my approach is. My body feels loose and free, not tight. It’s not like running, or lifting, intensity or impact. No one else is monitoring me. No one will be affected by my performance, but I know when it feels a little easier, or I swim a little faster, or even enter cold water when I don’t want to. I’m disconnected, on my own, free. I still hesitate to try new things, knowing that I’m not going to be good right away. I still fear internal comparison or my own unrealistic expectations. But swimming is just breath after breath, no audience, no rush. My mind and my body feel light, and I feel good. I love sport, but the competitive spirit is buried deeply. Only the internal nagging expectations from each version of myself remain, but now I choose to let it go, or practice letting go at least. 

A still from the Movement by NM original short film Seasons.

I don’t love the sprint season as much as I used to. My time was efficient. Out of necessity, time was managed and manipulated. In movement, doing less structured rather than quantitative things feels better now. Rather than a perfect move or an impressive number, it’s – ‘Oh, that felt good. That’s what my body, mind, and spirit needed today.’ Now I value rest. Enjoy things more. This doesn’t mean working less hard, but rather working hard on one thing that I have a handle on, rather than ten things that are out of control. I plan what I need to so I can enjoy moments later. I manage a little, but build time for rest. I attend to myself in season.

Past seasons may come back. There may be a time for intensity again. Or for challenge, variety, sacrifice, quickness. There are times to dream ahead and leap, and times when all that’s important is being present. For now, I find peace and full rest in the comfort of a little each day. Movement, artistry, relationship, learning, working, routine, experimenting, reflecting. A little each day, depending on the day. Moderation with the flow to do what I want to do, question things, and feel more integrated. What does my relationship need? What can I achieve in my work? How can I build a new routine to facilitate a creative space? How is my body reacting or adjusting?

A still from the Movement by NM original short film Seasons.

Now I move as the seasons do – for creativity, for purpose, for community, to feel connected and at home. My body craves ease and mobility – creative flows, a little push for strength and rediscovery. Another day, I may move soft and slow, in quiet evening moments, to find a sense of grounding or smoothness. Movement can merge with what the moment requires. In fact, it must.

In seasons, the world changes – why should I work in opposition to that?  I limit and exhaust myself when I resist change or hold too tightly to a routine that doesn’t fit life or the season any more. Why should I fight the way nature shifts? The trees lose their leaves in response to the weather. The light and structure of the day changes from month to month. I respond to my surroundings rather than waiting for surroundings to bend or return for me.

Seasons move. Time moves. Life moves. I move with it. It’s best that way. 

Watch Seasons

An image of Johanna Richardson from the Movement by NM original short film Seasons. Click to go to the film.