What's Your Dance?
Usually I have a solid draft of my blog completed by Sunday morning. However when I awoke today I realized that I was “blogless” and needed to ditch the topic I’d been playing around with for the past few days. This week writing has been a struggle. I just “wasn’t feeling it.” In fact I felt anything but inspired.
Yet while reading today’s emails over coffee, I came across this quote from Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose– “Life is the dancer and you are the dance.” This confused me, making me stop and ponder the meaning behind these simple words. How could I be the dance? Wasn’t I the dancer trying to keep up with the complex steps in life?
While I couldn’t offer an exact interpretation of Eckhart Tolle’s statement, I did believe that we all must interpret the meaning for ourselves. So I permitted my mind to shift from my conventional thinking to consider the possibilities of what Eckhart Tolle wants us to consider. Could my existence here on Earth be one big dance – a series of life experiences flowing to the magical tune of the Universe? If so, then what does it mean for life to be the dancer, the one who decides where to lead next, what move to make, and how fast or slow to tango?
These are incredibly deep and difficult questions, especially to ponder on a Sunday morning – so I decided to run by the river, contemplate these roles, and then finish this blog when I returned.
Okay, I’m back… and while I’m not sure that I have the correct interpretation of this quote, I found some thoughts that may shed some light on Tolle’s words. My first insight is that there are so many kinds of dances – from the waltz to the jitterbug to hip hop to jazz to salsa. In fact, one could use the analogy of these dancing styles to our various personalities - our small selves or egos. Just as each of these dances are unique, so are we. And now for the dancer…
“Life is the dancer” could be telling us that while each of us represents a specific style of dance, we have no idea how that dance is going to play out during our lifetime. We cannot predict or control the various moves of the dancer. That is for him or her to determine, just as we cannot manipulate what happens in our actual lives, our existence here on Earth. While we may have a game plan, perhaps even a tempo in our minds, we are unable to decide how it all evolves. In essence, life - the dancer - picks the beat, opts whether to go left or right, chooses how fast to proceed, and ultimately elects when it’s time to rest.
Determining which dance represents our truest selves can be tricky. After mulling this over I believe that if I had to choose, I’d say my dance would be a ballet. To confirm that my intuition was on target, I looked up the definition, and here is what it said:
“A classical dance form demanding grace and precision and employing formalized steps and gestures set in intricate, flowing patterns to create expression through movement”
Is that representative of my life? Perhaps, it is in some ways. A good friend told me that I was “grace under fire” when I served as school board president, even though I felt like a cauldron about to boil over in those stressful moments. And, yes, throughout my life I have taken specific steps and made conscious decisions after thinking a great detail about the minor details as well as the big picture. Plus lately, I’ve added flow in my life by adopting a dedicated yoga practice. And what is ballet with out the beautiful music? Thanks to my mother I’ve always had a huge appreciation for classical composers.
But I am not the ballet dancer –I possess neither the physical attributes nor the fluidity required to make these movements. Instead, I serve as more of the backdrop, the place where the dancer – life – chooses to perform as it takes leaps, pirouettes, and pliés at its whim. Sometimes it decides to take the classical route, but then on other days, it’s nothing but modern. Certain weeks have the barre set high. And, during some seasons it’s nothing but Arabesque, requiring me to shift gears, adapt, and surrender to the moment. Additionally, the number of dancers on stage constantly changes. One moment will feature a single ballerina performing “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.” But then in an instant, an entire corps appears, and the energy instantly intensifies.
Sitting here comparing myself to a ballet seems far-fetched in many ways. Yet if I allow my mind to “see” the possible similarities, I find it intriguing. In fact, Eckhart Tolle’s quote is pure genius. We are the stage, and life delivers the actions, the moves, and the sequence of steps. The reality is that we have very little control over how life decides to “dance.” And, the one thing that I’ve learned about dancing is that to be at your best you must release all control and just be in the moment. Maybe that’s the true underlying message here - surrender. If you’ve ever been in the groove on the dance floor, maybe you’ve experience the uninhibited freedom that occurs when we can let go. So how can we allow life to take the lead instead of trying to force it next move? Are we able to stay present and embrace what is happening now, instead of trying to alter the flow? Will we listen to the music and permit ourselves to consider new possibilities, those out of our normal routine. And, can we identify what our dance is? If so, can we accept that life is the dancer and enjoy the performance?