Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dancing With Life: I Hope You'll Dance

"I hope you never lose your sense of wonder. You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger. May you never take one single breath for granted. God forbid love ever leave you empty handed. I hope you feel small when you stand beside the ocean. Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens. Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance. And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance. I hope you dance."

--Lee Ann Womack

As a little girl, I was always moved to dance. When my family went on vacation to the Cape, if we drove by a "sock hop," I would always ask my parents to pull over so I could go inside. My parents told me I was a little girl, and that I would not be allowed inside. But I asked and asked and asked every single time we passed a "sock hop" sign for months on end. And one day, perhaps realizing I just was not going to stop asking, they let me go inside. Child or not, I jumped right in and danced. And I connected with a very deep impulse in me that has always moved me, carried me and expressed me.

I learned that dance is really a wonderful metaphor for life. And while it was a sad occasion, the funeral of a teenage boy from the Boys to Men program's father's sudden and unexpected death, that reconnected me with Lee Ann Womack's poignant song, "I Hope You Dance," I am grateful to have her words reintroduced to my heart and mind. When given the choice to sit it out or dance, I always DANCE.

Dance is like love: each moment invites you to a constant opening, to be present, to use all of your senses, to let yourself move with what moves you. Dance, like love, invites you to let go of self-judgment, judgment of others and other inhibitions, and let yourself be moved from the inside out. Dance, like love, is, in the words of Kim Anami, "a constant choice to be loving, to be kind, generous and to take the high road in everything. To see the best in those around you." And to let your spirit guide your every move.

To dance with life is to be both receptive and co-creative. By being open and receptive to all of life's currents, and to what stirs your own heart and soul, allows you to not only tap your own internal creative well, but to join forces collaboratively with other people, spirit and the flow of life moment to moment and over time. Dancing with life allows you to fully embrace possibility, and opportunity. Dancing with life allows you to integrate vision and action.

In life, just like on the dance floor, there are many moods and tempos and beats. And some are slow. Others are fast. Some are happy. Some are sad. But it is the fullness and wholeness and variety and authenticity that brings the richness of the experience home. To be fully alive, we feel everything--dark and light. Our culture tends to value "positive" experiences and devalue or even reject what gets labelled as "negative" experiences. Realistically, some experiences feel better than others. But they are all essential, valuable and life enriching experiences. Some of us prefer a Latin beat. Others like hip hop. Or rock and roll. Or jazz. Or R&B. All genres are, as Stevie Wonder so aptly wrote, "Songs in the key of life."

The price of sitting out is high. Lee Ann Womack says, "Never settle for the path of least resistance. Living might mean takin' chances but they are worth takin'. Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin,' Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter, When you come close to selling' out reconsider." Dancing with life may not always be easy. In fact, sometimes it might be just plain hard or painful. Yet, if we can be present with hard and painful, we also have the capacity to be present will easy, and joyful. An open heart feels all there is to feel. And what more complete experience is there than to fully dance!!!

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