Your Own Personal Whiteout

Have you ever faced a situation where everything went into white? How did you feel? And if this feeling was a movement, which movement would it be?

These questions were posed by Paolo Maccagno at his recent Feldenkrais workshop, where participants explored the experience of whiteout primarily through movement, but also through music, images, and words. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Feldenkrais, it’s a ‘somatic educational system’ which promotes awareness through movement, and provides the perfect framework through which to engage with your own personal whiteout.

WhiteoutFor me, whiteout builds on the metaphor of the journey: in a whiteout you lose landmarks and all points of reference vanish. The terrain is no longer recognisable; all differentiation is blanketed in a uniform white. The map (if it ever existed) no longer represents the territory. Your tracks are silently erased, and there is no return. The boundaries between substance and non-substance dissolve. It is a liminal space of contradictions; all is moving, but all is still.

This might resonate, but it might not be your whiteout. The experience is shared yet solitary. As became apparent in the workshop we all perceive, interpret, and respond to whiteout in different ways. What is the true nature of whiteout? Can it exist without you at the centre? Do you sense it approaching? Are you more likely to experience whiteout if you stray from the well-trodden paths and into the wilderness?

The whiteout is temporary – it will always pass –  but we cannot know what reality will emerge, or whether it is possible to lose ourselves in what Davide Sapienza refers to as the ‘white darkness’ (La musica della neve/The music of snow). It is a place of not knowing, and an individual’s level of (dis)comfort depends on their window of tolerance at the moment of whiteout, as well as their sense of, or appetite for, risk.

Whiteout is both a dreamscape of panic and disorientation, and of peace and solitude…

With this in mind, I wonder what whiteout means to you. To what extent do you create the conditions of your whiteout? What do you choose to do with this knowledge?

And now the snow sweeps in.