“Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.”
Easy for Rumi to say. Last Saturday, I was wondering why I had agreed to such a foolish thing.
WHY did I agree--no, VOLUNTEER--to learn a choreographed waltz and perform it in front of friends, family, and strangers? Who did I think I was: Julianne or Katarina or Cheryl on Dancing With the Stars? Those folks spend untold hours every week learning their dances. I was contained to two hour long lessons a week to learn the intricate patterns and steps my instructor put together for us.
Saturday was THE day! I loaded my clothes into the car and went to get my hair done. Everything has to be BIG in performing, so those are the directions I gave the young woman who sat me down in her chair in the salon: BIG hair, please. Well, that's fine if you've got a lot of hair to get BIG with, but I don't. (Remember? It's one of those aging things we have talked about before.) I had to settle for hair that was.....well, nicer than I could have done myself. Aging teaches us to be realistic, if nothing else.
Nerves get me for about an hour each time I've done this (yes, I have done it before, don't ask me why I didn't learn not to volunteer again), but then excitement takes over. I finally get to show my family and friends exactly why I keep slipping away to a dance studio, only to return an hour or so later a totally happier person. Transformed. Transfigured.(Everyone likes it that I go do this.....trust me.)
Performing, though....that's transformation of a different sort. I had to learn to move BIG (to go along with the hair, of course), to exaggerate putting that arm up into the air, to hold that pose longer than seems humanly possible, to keep smiling no matter what.
Like when I unexpectedly and for no apparent reason, cut a move short and ended up turning the wrong way. I can recall standing there thinking "How the heck did I get HERE??" But I kept that smile plastered on my face, turned back the RIGHT way to get back to where I was supposed to be, and made eye contact with my instructor/partner. His look said, "Just keep going!" We knew what had happened, but as it turned out, no one else realized anything was amiss at all.
The afternoon was magical, mistake included. As I've gotten older and bumped into more walls than I care to remember (or admit) and made hundreds of mistakes, the lesson has been clear: don't ever stop...... and whatever you do, keep smiling!