Nothing to fix: What if you were already alright?
Reviewed By: Sue Rickards
Language availability: English
We each have our own personal brand of “messed up”. And often, we spend years looking for answers, for ways to heal the wounds that cause us pain and confusion and that shape the way we move through life. We go to workshops, retreats and trainings in the hope of finding something – or someone – to fix us.
But what if we didn’t need fixing? What if we already alright?
I had never considered that possibility until I stepped onto Sue Rickard’s dance floor over a decade ago. What I heard that day as I stomped and swayed to the music was that I was welcome just as I was. And that everything I brought with me was welcome too. All my wounds, all my ugly, all my messed-upedness. After years of working hard on “self-improvement” Sue’s invitation to welcome, dance, explore and investigate whatever state I was in without worrying about the outcome felt like a heavy weight being lifted off my shoulders.
The more I dance with Sue, the more I am able to “see what happens when we’re not trying to improve or gain anything, but simply seeing what’s ready to move,” as she puts it. And slowly I’m learning that whatever comes up, it’s already alright, I’m not broken, there’s nothing to fix.
Sue infuses this unique flavor of self-enquiry in all her teaching: whether she’s teaching a weekly class in London or a intensive retreat somewhere exotic, her invitation is to dance “with whatever is already ready to happen without bothering to know in advance”.
She’s so passionate about this that she’s made Already Alright the theme of her yearly summer retreat. For the past 16 years, dancers from everywhere have gathered to dance with Sue for a week in the enchanted forest of Orval, in Belgium
The theme changes each year. “This year I’m experimenting with something new,” she tells me, “Each year Luc, who organizes the retreat, asks me what I want to teach… and I almost never know. Year after year I notice that whatever we name the week, whatever interesting subject we choose to work with… underneath that, there is always this far more exciting river. The river of what’s already ready to happen. So whatever the title I choose is only the intention of the workshop. There is my idea of what will happen and then Life’s Idea of what needs to happen – through each of us. And I find that endlessly fascinating, not what I have to teach – though I bring that along of course – but what there is to find out for each of us. This year we are acknowledging that. Whatever we bring is already alright.”
I asked Catherine Elvinger, a catering chef from Luxembourg and a keen dancer what she was expecting from her week in Orval. “I have no expectations, “ she says, “and that’s what’s so great about Sue, she has none either! Whatever we bring will be welcome. She will guide us to find what’s worth dancing with and digging deeper into and reflecting on. And she will do this with wisdom, heart, humour, vulnerability and an openness that makes her teaching so rich. So although I can’t say exactly what I was looking for when I signed up for this workshop, I do know that once I’m there it will become very clear!”
Frie Lavelli, who has been assisting Sue in Orval for 13 years echoes Catherine’s enthusiasm when I ask her what it’s like working with Sue: “Working with Sue can’t really be called work!” she starts, “Every year I am touched by how easy it is for Sue to let things be as they are and let them unfold. She follows and supports and helps create truly magical moments. There’s a never ending sense of wonder at how simple and beautiful this process of being ourselves can be. Sue guides me into my own true self – I call it the wiser part of me – and so we co-create magic again and again, year after year.”
I ask Sue what she’s expecting from the retreat, even though I know before I ask the question that she’s unlikely to be expecting anything in particular. That is the point after all. “What’s exciting is what happens as we allow ourselves to trust what we create when we all come together, and we can’t know that until we are on the dance floor.”
See you there?