Have you ever been left with a feeling that you have just witnessed something so exquisite that it seemed you had seen perfection?
I have seen it—in nature, in a babies face, or toes, or tiny hands, in a look that told a great love story, at a sporting event, and in the sun rising in the morning. Today though, I am thinking of the perfection of dance. Dance in the literal form, but also, The dance that is our lives.
My mother was a dancer. I danced. My daughter danced. My son took lessons for a few years, as did my oldest grandson. My mom and dad would dance around the floor (in a gym in most cases), and I was always in awe of how they moved together.
I love dance. I love the way that the human body moves in such a way that an intricate story can be told without a word being spoken.
I love the way the body is moved by music, and can move with music. It seems to capture my heart and anchor it to somewhere solid, beautiful, and free.
Last night I heard the song “The Dance” by Garth Brooks, and was reminded of the beauty that is a human life. I got to thinking about going to the ballet and how beautiful, and elegant, and even spiritual it can be. But I then began to wonder what would the ballet be if it was without emotion, or love, or devotion, or tragedy, loss and heartache? What would it be if the entire performance was done in darkness? Or if it was always slow and methodical, or a frenzy of quick and staccato-like movements? What if the story was always happy? Or sad? Or tragic? Or triumphant?
What if… it was always the same?
What if we asked ourselves those same questions? “What would my life be if it was without darkness, or disappointment, or heartache, or even without pain? What if we didn’t make mistakes?” What would that look like? Can we even imagine it, and if we could, would we hope for it?
I remember a time when I wished for a life that was always happy, and free, and easy. As I reflect back though, I wonder where it would have taken me, had that been the case. This morning, after a night of pondering The Dance, I read this quote on my FB page,
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
While I am still pondering these words, I believe that they may be true. I also wonder if it is necessary to suffer to understand life and to live with compassion and gentleness? Or is it even possible for us not to suffer in a human life?
Perhaps it is not the suffering that creates the “most beautiful people,” but the manner in which they respond.
I am reminded how life is full of choices; we are indeed the choreographers of our own dance.
When I look at long term relationships, I love to think about the dance that each couple creates. It is a constant game of “give and take,” “push and pull,” and somehow creating a flow of movement and change as well as sameness and constancy. It is a game of compromise.
When we see a dancer stumble, or even fall, sometimes we gasp and hold our breath, as he or she resumes the flow of the choreography. Sometimes it is only the most keen observer that even notices the mistake. And sometimes, the dancer continues on with a sprained ankle, or muscle tear, or bleeding toes. I think it is the same in relationships. We aren’t without our bruises and our battle wounds, but somehow we manage to carry on. We choose to dance solo or in an intricate duet.
Each dance has a beginning, a middle, and an end. I suppose every relationship we have has its own dance, even ones with strangers we meet on the street, or our teachers, our students, our co-workers. We get to co-write each story, create each movement, each flow.
I am now left to wonder what I would choose if I could re-write my own story. Would it be a comedy or tragedy? Would it be an epic novel? It seems dishonest or even strange to say I would choose pain and suffering, but without it could I know joy and love? Could I feel peace without unrest?
So far, I would best describe my own life as a series of short stories. Each story is connected to the other, but there have been many chapters and many beginnings and endings. It has been a dance of darkness and light, a solo, duet, and even chorus-line. It has been a dance of joy and suffering, and I suppose a comedy and a tragedy all thrown into one. Would I have it any other way? I don’t think so, but then again, I will never know. My life is just that—“my life.”
I do, though, choose to continue the dance just as it is—to leap, stumble, and fall. To soar, tip-toe, and stomp. To laugh, scream and cry and most of all to do my best to accept and be present every minute, so that I don’t miss a beat or an opportunity.
As I now take a minute to look within and without I am seeing something exquisite. I am seeing The Dance and feeling the power and freedom of being my own choreographer. Each of us is a choreographer, may we all be exquisite as we dance our way through life.
Now, let’s turn on the music, and dance.
Sher Meyer: I am a traveller, a learner, a writer, an explorer, a teacher, and a lover of life. When my husband and I are not traveling, or planning our next trip, I can be found playing with my grandchildren, sailing, camping, meditating, practicing yoga, playing tennis, hiking, or digging around in my garden. After retiring from teaching elementary school, I am finally learning to slow down and see the beauty in every day. Up to now, my life has been an incredible ride. Loving that as I age it is so much easier to see my failures and falls, and even the really painful parts of my life, as necessary steps along my path. And I say “Thank You” to all of them! Check out Sher’s website for more informatin.
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Assistant Ed: Josie Huang/Ed: Bryonie Wise