If you follow this column and my previous articles within, you will notice I have discarded my mask and opened up to be real and accessible. I have shared raw details and allowed myself to be extremely vulnerable. My topics have been based on what is happening and being experienced in as close to real time as possible.
For this article, I had a topic completely outlined in my mind, had written notes and thoughts on my subject, and felt determined to discuss. I had invested emotion, time, energy, and felt it extremely applicable. Then, something unexpected occurred which made me question the approach and angle of which to take on it. To be honest, it kind of threw me for a loop and had me scrambling to decide what to share.
I suppose you could say, this dilemma causing such a scurry for me, is the definition of life as a whole. We often feel like we have things all planned out, ready to execute with precision, only to have a screwball pitch that leaves us not knowing how to react. For some of us, depending on the magnitude of the change, we can find ourselves frozen in time, paralyzed and not knowing how to proceed. It can literally throw us off the path we have known and leave us lost, without a map, compass, or any ability to gather our bearing.
As I engage and participate in different activities, I have found myself being more aware and looking for the lessons available and pertinent to the bigger picture of life. Recently, I started a dance class. Okay, honesty check: I already took the class once; but, for me, it is pretty much like taking it for the first time–again. Since the “moves” are not easily picked up, I started thinking about what lessons are germane, as I want to learn something while there. This, coupled with my writing topic predicament, allowed me to align the two–almost like they were meant to dance.
There is a song by John Michael Montgomery with words as true as I have found. The particular line I am referring to goes, “Life’s a dance, you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. Don’t worry ‘bout what you don’t know, life’s a dance, you learn as you go.” The longer I live, the more experiences I have, the more this resonates with me.
There is so much uncertainty with unexpected changes thrown our way. These can be simple things, that require little adjustments or enormous things demanding an entire realignment in our procession. We can plan, theorize, and philosophize down to every conceivable thought or detail. The problem with doing so is twofold. First, there is no way to identify every probable possibility. Second, and often more troublesome, is the fact that over planning often prevents us from ever acting. Sometimes, we just have to get moving and learn while leaving the fear of the unknown in its cage.
While there are a bounty of analogies and lessons to be harvested in comparing life and dance, there are some specific ones I would like to share:
I freely admit, I am not a “good” dancer in terms of technical ability. I look at others and long for the ability to move effortlessly as some make it appear. The way they flow smoothly as if it is innate can be intimidating. However, what I have found is when I am not concerned with every intricate step and just dancing to have fun–there exists no need to compete. I can thoroughly enjoy the experience, expression, and communication available through dance. This is true with life, as well. When we choose to live our own life without need for comparison to see how we “measure up” with others, we are free to enjoy it fully with gratitude. “When you get the choice to sit it out or dance. I hope you dance.”–Lee Ann Womak.
Embrace Differing Steps
When we experience trials and setbacks in our lives it is easy to get frustrated and give up. In dancing, back-steps and side-steps are part of the dance. We find ourselves on different parts of the floor and around different dancers. It is all part of the experience. The goal is not to quietly occupy one spot on the floor or necessarily to get to any specific place upon it. Instead, it is to simply enjoy the steps of the journey along the way. As in life, there are differing music genres and/or song changes. Adapt to the beat and rhythm. Adjust by speeding up or slowing down as needed. Take each new exposure in life and allow for the lesson in the journey to be experienced.
Something I have found particularly difficult is to keep dancing. It goes beyond the differing steps. Sometimes, it is not being able to take the steps and/or missing them altogether. When I mess up, I often just stop. It is strange how much this correlates with my life over the last couple of years. Once I stop, I have a difficult time getting started again. Becoming aware of this both in life and in dance has been a huge revelation for me. I certainly do not claim to have mastered this step. I can only state, I am aware and moving forward. I am improving in my ability to pick it back up and get moving again. Progress is slower than I would prefer, but progress nonetheless. I will not let a mistake derail me any longer.
Catch Your Breath
Life as well as dancing can be exhausting. Sometimes, we just need to take a break and sit a song out. We all have the need to give pause from time to time. Do so as often as you require. Use the time to refresh, nourish, and breathe. We do not have the ability to sustain constant full-out participation. Allow yourself to regain energy and jump back in at the time and level that is comfortable for you.
A life well lived is filled with mistakes. Little ones. Big ones. As long as we are still living there exists the possibility of improvement. “We learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same.”–Martha Graham. Continue to participate, enjoy the moment, and strive for implementing the things that bring enjoyment to your life. “Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.”–H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Whether you dance with skilled confidence, wildly, crazy, effortless flow, or rigid, analytically, or any other style, it does not matter. Enjoy the participation. Dance like nobody is watching and live on your own terms. We are always changing and growing. There is a place in time, called now, between where you just came from and where you are going–this is space where the dance of life happens.
Dance with me?
Make it count.
George Scott is a man of many talents and careers. Currently he is an aspiring artist in the art of communication, building community, and connecting. Although he has formal educational training, he prefers to learn his life lessons from the school of hard knocks. He is currently working on a third bachelors degree in rebuilding, rejuvenating and inspiring others. George can be found as the man on the street happily making new friends and sharing his wealth with the world. If you would like to contact him email [email protected]