Shall We Dance?
I was never much of the dancing kind. My early religious teaching came from a Southern Baptist church, but it was not out of conviction that I stayed still. I never had much confidence, nobody taught me “the moves”, and it was tough to see the benefit. At an early age, I was far too practical.
My last dance performed in public created the circumstance that would lead to my greatest happiness. Michelle and I were unmarried at the time and we found ourselves swaying back and forth on a club dance floor. We whispered in each others ears. I do not remember the song, I do remember the rush of emotion as I found myself close to the soul I would later do life with.
In my college years, I dated a debutante from out of town. This meant that I needed to attend a debutante ball, where there is dancing for the proverbial days. My more coordinated friends tried to teach me the moves they learned in a dance class. I was horrible and awkward. Nothing about it felt right to me.
The dances I attended were “sponsored” by the Baptist Student Union (they received the money from the price of admission). This was interesting because those good Baptist kids had to actually dance in the Catholic Student Center next door. These dances usually found me in the chapel. Sometimes in thought and sometimes trying to get next to a cute girl.
I often remember the first dance I attended, which was held inside the middle school in my town. There were strobe lights, goofy kids (the lot of us), and the overwhelming smell of Drakkar Noir cologne and hormones. I usually ended up on one side of the cafeteria and talking about how silly dances were with my friends. I did not do the drugs or drink the alcohol, but I did my share of criticizing everyone that was trying. Not because I was cool, but because I was shy.
There is something that sticks in my mind about those that tried. Tried to do what they felt the music was telling them to do. Confidently approached those that captured their interest and asked them to dance. Even now, I admire the ones that try and the ones that seem to be more assured than me.
Whether in middle school listening to David Bowie advising me to “put on my red shoes and dance the blues”, or in some country and western/hip hop club meeting my soulmate, music and my response to it, intrigue me. Back in the eighties I learned that I might, “come to know… when the bullet hits the bone”, and driving down the road now, I hear my son advising me that I am a “sunflower”. Music and the response to it, help create mindsets, distract or focus our attention, and move us in some way.
We are all dancing. Every action, non-action, or reaction, is only a dance to the tune we allow ourselves to hear. Some say if we do not like the way our lives are going, we should change our dream. I believe, in an effort to do this, we might also change our soundtrack. Whether you listen to the words or the music of creation, there are many hits. It is up to us to program our lives with the music that best suits us and our goals.
We do not have only a receiver, we have an endless playlist. Some are content to find a DJ they trust, while others are busy about finding new songs. If we find a groove, we may also play only the songs we have heard throughout or lives. We are all dancing. Why not choose the music we dance along with?
I always felt like those in the military of Soviet Russia were the best line dancers. Whether it is the foxtrot or the latest craze on a video game, there are always dances to “learn”. I enjoy those that dance with abandon. Those that create, not learn, dancing. Expressions of joy stemming from a combination of what is heard and what is felt make me smile. It is this way with me in life also. The ones that do what they do, because they cannot do anything other than that, are the ones that I enjoy most.
Most religious teachings, political views, advertisements, cultural thought, and even manners, are only tunes that others sing in hopes that we might dance in a way that pleases them. If we heard the song of the Creator, or better yet, if we co-wrote a song with the Creator, our dancing would be different. Our dancing would become the song of creation for others to hear. We would be at the same time the song of the creation and the creation itself.
Sometimes it is hard to teach a person that knows how to dance a way to dance in a new way. They feel they already know what to do and how to do it. If a person is new to the experience, anything is possible and there are a million ways to express themselves. With this said, I would offer, like Meister Eckhart, that we should, in all things, be a beginner each day.
You are dancing. You are doing well. If you need a new dance, change the record. If you need a new life, write another song. We are all dancing. If your dance is what you want it to be, then I am happy with and for you. If your dance seems to make you more tired than joyful, I might recommend gratitude, grace, and wonder as topics for a new song.
There may be questions and there may be real concerns, but gratitude, grace, and wonder, will always produce peace. Peace. Sometimes we say we want it and we intentionally, or unintentionally, create chaos. This is your day and this is your dance. Enjoy. If I might inject a note of praise, you are the very best person to be the very best version of you. The world needs your song. It would not be the same without your dance.