When I was around 11 years old, I took modern jazz lessons once a week. I was in a large group of girls the same age taught by an older woman who wore flashy flowy dance outfits and had a perma grin on her face. Even at that age, I could tell her smile was covering a foulness sitting in her mouth. Now, didn't I write that nicely, because what I really wanted to write was that she had what some people refer to as a "shit eating grin." oooooops........I wrote it! How impulsive of me.
This dance teacher projected a sense of uppity pride because she was married to a man who was a TV host of a VERY local game show called Party Game. I think the prizes were dinner for 2 at KFC or something........Granted, the guy was well known in and around my hometown, but I highly doubt he was ever a household name across the country. Nevertheless, we heard about him during EVERY class. We were even given autograph pictures of him. Despite this weirdness, I LOVED learning modern dance. I loved the music and the atmosphere..........and learning new steps. I even loved wearing the black dance tights.
One night, about halfway through the year, we were learning a new routine which was going to be a part of the end recital. Over and over the steps we went, all of us concentrating on learning the beat and the moves. All of a sudden, flowy teacher lady stops the music and in her best musical voice said. "Everyone, I want you to watch how Dana is doing this......(so I continue, with a feeling of pride.........) because she's doing it all wrong. Don't do it like Dana.....OK, everyone......."
Honest to God! How mean is that? I felt like a piece of grime on the bottom of her snazzy jazzy shoe. It was devastating...............and yet maybe it was the beginning of me realizing that my idea of dance, and my ability to do a dance is uniquely my own interpretation? Can't make a ballet dancer out of a belly dancer right? I'd much rather be a belly dancer. Much more exotic, don't you think? And you get to wear all those bangles on your wrists and multi-coloured scarves........great outfits too that show off those tasteful belly button piercings I long to acquire.
I thought of this story today while I was jotting down a few thoughts on the "dance of life" realizing that we often find ourselves at a point where we think we have the steps down pat...we know the moves and the dips and the hip movement only to realize that the music had changed and a whole new dance is needed. We just get comfortable in our cha cha only to find out it's the step dance we need to master. Or........we can't get the dances steps AT ALL because for some reason God gave us two left feet and no rhythm that fits the mainstream.
Life is a never ending dance lesson. Life also seems to have a set of rules we all are supposed to abide by. If you're at one point in your life, the dance looks like this.................... If you're at another point in your life...........you're supposed to conform and shimmy like this. Just like the work world. Within the responsibilities and structure of the organizational chart of a business, one finds the dance one is supposed to adhere to. No improvisation is welcome. Just do the monkey dance, keep your eyes within the range of your piece of the dance floor and wiggle and jiggle along. It's like there is composed hierarchical order we are to adhere to.
If you're in the hierarchy, and this analogy seems (in my weirded out mind at least) to fit with every hierarchy formed by us anal retentive structure starved human beings......within cultures, countries, churches, religions..........hierarchies abound.....you're supposed to know your place. If you're living in the land where one does the WATUSI, for goodness sake don't be doing the HULA. Heaven forbid you step on the toes of a tap dancing fool when the music CLEARY indicates the soft shoe technique.
And yet.........we are born free spirits with the opportunity to express our individuality through our movements and actions. We are free spirits, equal in the eyes of God...........equal to try any and all dance moves. God didn't form the hierarchies and the structure which gobbles up equality did He? So, why is it that we continue to evolve into a mass of hierarchies where freedom of movement is completely frowned upon by the people around us?
Mike Yaconelli, whom I bet was a rascal of a man to listen and talk to, wrote a wonderful book entitled "Messy Spirituality" which I have loved reading. It's just a little looking book......one you could spin through in a blink, but then you'd miss out on many many thought provoking gems tucked in the personal stories he has shared about his ongoing learning of the movements to his own dance of faith, and of living a spiritual life. One of the clear messages I have taken away after reading it is that we are all unfinished and unpolished dancers. And guess what? That's quite alright. That's what God intended.......we are imperfectly messy, stumbling people trying to get our act together.............together.
Maybe we are all 11 year olds.........sometimes getting it wrong, sometimes getting it right, always keen to continue learning. It's an unbalanced way of looking at life which is difficult to accept because it would be so much easier if we didn't have to think....if we could just go into auto-pilot, turn on the proper tunes and move in some acceptable robotic manner. But, that's not living is it? No it's not! That's called BARELY EXISTING.
"Balance is a dangerous, illusionary characteristic and a temptress. Disguised as normal and sensible, it is silently destructive, crushing the unbalance of giftedness, taming the extremes of passion, smothering the raging fire of a genuine relationship with Jesus. Jesus was constantly being criticized for being unbalanced. Think about it: Jesus could have healed six days a week and not upset anyone. People would have been just as healed on the second day of the week as they were on the Sabbath. Jesus could have sat down with the temple leaders and quietly discussed his theological reasoning for not allowing the place of worship to become a carnival of commerce. Instead, he crashed in like a crazy man with a whip and knocked over the tables, screaming and yelling and creating chaos. He certainly could have been more balanced."
Living is messing up every once in a while. Living is getting it right every once in a while. Living is dancing like no one is watching..........with our arms flailing, our legs moving and our hearts soaring............to our own song. Wanna try a new move? I promise I won't tell you you're doing it wrong. Theres no wrong.......... Living is accepting the dance of others, and learning some moves from them. And all the while.......as we remain unbalanced, imperfect and in flight, trying to find our dance within the hierarchical structures of our society where the dance moves are supposedly painted on the dancefloor, isn't it great to know that all of us 11 year olds are in very good company?
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he