Monday, November 16, 2015

I hope you Dance

 I was sitting in the car this week and one of my mom’s favorite songs came on my playlist. It moved me to tears. 

That happens a lot lately.

The lyrics danced around in my heart (which was appropriate, given the song.)

“And if you get the choice to sit it out or dance. I hope you dance.”

Earlier in the week I had a random out-of–the blue craving to go line dancing. No idea why. Just did.

That happens a lot lately too.  (Random life cravings, not line dancing.)

A friend mentioned a music video featuring a memorizing dancer. I watched the video and was memorized too.

The song  “Shut up and Dance” finds itself stuck in my head a lot. 

I got in a conversation with teenagers about how white girls dance. (Usually by limiting most movements to the upper body shoulder region.)

And finally today, while I was out and about, I heard my mom’s song again over an intercom.

I don’t know about you, but when a subject gets brought up that many times in a week I want to pay attention.

Dancing. To move about rhythmically to music.

I am not much of a dancer. I have rhythm, which helps, and if the electric slide comes on you will find me getting my boogie woogie on out on the dance floor.

But in the same way people save singing for the shower I mostly save dancing for the car.

We all have memories of dancing. The first ones generally involve a living room and your parents. Followed by….

The horror.

It is 6th grade and I am in gym class. Those two things alone make me want to invent time travel just to hug my 12-year-old self.

The teacher announces that our next activity is not going to be floor hockey; instead it will be square dancing.

And we have to find our own partners. Gulp.

After a lot of pre-teen drama we all did and for the next 6 weeks it was a whole lot of looking down at our shuffling feet, red faces, screeching music and sweaty palms.

And then came middle school dances, then high school, then prom…

I do have some dancing experiences outside of the car and gymnasiums.

I tried dancing ballet when I was five and quit after a recital. We were all so full of fear that as the song Old McDonald had a Farm began to play instead of dancing like farm animals we did a solid interpretation of deer staring into headlights. 

I danced in musical theater in elementary, middle and high school.

I may or may not have given in to the line dancing craving on more than one occasion.

I took salsa lessons a while back, still have the shoes.

But mostly, I am like most people, nervous to dance in public.

And there is good reason for that.

Dancing is ridiculous.

Not the professional Nutcracker ballet kind. The everyday Joe is dancing at his cousin’s wedding kind.

Think about it.

On what other occasions do we move and shake like that? None.

When is it ever appropriate to get that close to another person in public moving that way? Never. Never in any other context is that acceptable behavior. Can you can imagine what would happen if someone started dancing at grocery store?

A friend of mine and I were recently having a conversation at a wedding.

We both decided that if aliens were to come down and visit earth there would be a few things that would make no sense to them at all. (I know, an alien conversation at a wedding?) 

I believe we mentioned money as one, the red carpet another and the third was dancing.

Alien log: Humans appeared to be going about as normal until a certain sound came on. They appeared to be under some kind of influence as they rushed together on a platform and moved in a most peculiar manor, changing movement with the changing sound. Some sounds produced synchronized and repetitive movements. At times, they danced in pairs. Such movement is not observed in any other known human activity.

Okay dancing is weird and we all have awkward memories when we were younger but it still doesn’t explain while I was moved to tears sitting in the car.

Why am I dancing around the subject?

Let me practice a few steps for a second.

If I think about it, it is not just about the act of dancing. As my mom’s song suggests, it is what dancing represents, the emotions and requirements that come with it.

Dancing requires courage, energy, action and enthusiasm. You can practice for a long time and still not be good, so just go for it. You generally don’t do it alone. You are watched.

Dancing is about engaging. Expressing yourself. Learning steps. Being put on the spot. Looking ridiculous. Having fun. Navigating awkward moments. Being free. Being vulnerable. Being clueless. Being together.  

Dancing is about slowing down. Speeding up. Using all of yourself. Stepping on people’s toes. Having bad partners. Having good ones. Falling in love. Learning something new. Taking lessons. Pulling muscles. Getting sweaty. Focusing. Committing to it. Wild abandonment. Celebration.

It demands you be here. Be present.

And unless you are Justin Timberlake, it is risky.

It requires you come out of your comfort zone in some way. 

Dancing is not just about listening, it’s about action.

It’s about being moved. 

It’s life.

Hence the tears.

Go back and substitute living instead of dancing.  It applies.

Living requires courage, energy, action and enthusiasm. You can practice for a long time and still not be good, so just go for it. You generally don’t do it alone. You are watched.

Living is about engaging. Expressing yourself. Learning steps. Being put on the spot. Looking ridiculous. Having fun. Navigating awkward moments. Being free. Being vulnerable. Being clueless. Being together.  

Living is about slowing down. Speeding up. Using all of yourself. Stepping on people’s toes. Having bad partners. Having good ones. Falling in love. Learning something new. Taking lessons. Pulling muscles. Getting sweaty. Focusing. Committing to it. Wild abandonment. Celebration.

Living demands you be here. Be present.

And unless you are Justin Timberlake, it is risky.

It requires you come out of your comfort zone in some way. 

Living is not just about listening, it is about action.

It’s about being moved.

The song is not about dancing at all.

It’s about life. 

That is why I was moved in the car. My mom’s song. The song she wants for me and my sister and brother. (And knowing my mom she wants it for everyone.)

When I hear that song now, I hear it as my mother’s prayer.

When you or someone very close to you faces something very serious, it changes things.

You realize that the music in this life is not going to last forever. The song is going to end.

The question becomes: are you going to sit life out or are you going to get up on the dance floor and live it?

I am not even suggesting that dancing has to be loud and crazy. Some of us can sky dive and backpack through India. Others might spend a weekend in silence.

It may mean reading a book you love, smelling the ocean at least once a month, getting a degree, getting in shape. Seeking forgiveness. Forgiving. Telling someone you think they are amazing. Letting go of the past. Loving.

However you are created to move, move.

It doesn’t matter if you look weird or you haven’t found a partner yet or you think you are bad at it.

Take lessons. Pull others up to come with you if you need to.

But do it. Even if you are on the “dance to the beat of your own music” type.

Rock that funky chicken.

Own that electric slide.

Impress with the cabbage patch.

Dare to tango.

Be completely you. Don’t leave anything out.

Leave it all out on the floor.

But dance, for goodness sake, dance.

For me, I will dust off the salsa shoes. Put square dancing and deer in headlights behind me.

I am a pretty decent line dancer.  So maybe it’s time for a waltz? 

By the way, the tears came at this line in the song, “May you never take one single breath for granted.”

Thank you mama, this one is for you.

Can anyone hum a waltz?

One, two, three, One, two, three… 

Song referenced is " I Hope you Dance." By Lee Ann Womack 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Seasons of Love


To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven
A time to gain, a time to lose

I had forgotten.

The cool breeze. The crispy sound of leaves on the ground. The brilliant colors.

Fall.

An actual Fall.

A season behaving itself. Glorious nature.

The reason I forgot is that where I live, this time of year isn’t so polite and poetic.

As an annual tradition we southern Californians witness a wrestling match. It is not a dramatic one and we all know the outcome. In fact, we are mostly annoyed by it.

Instead of graciously allowing Winter to come, Summer acts bratty. It doesn’t want to let go of the heat, the sunshine, the long nights.

So it puts a fight.

It was 93 degrees the other day in October.

Come on. Just let it be. Give in already. You will get your shot again next year. You always do. Don’t you remember?

If you keep acting this way someone gets hurt.

Wait. Am I talking about seasons or people?

As I mentioned before I went for a walk today. It was a glorious Fall day. It is what calendars are made for. I could almost smell pumpkin pie in the air.

And it got me thinking about seasons.

Love is seasonal.

You know the phrase “people come into your life for a season, a reason or forever”? Something like that anyway.

I don’t like that phrase. It always made me sad.

I was never good with the seasonal part.

A reason I can be okay with, as long as I know the reason.

And who doesn’t like forever?

But seasons…

Seasons are messy. Transitions are hard.

Fall does it so well.

Me? Not so much.

I hang on for dear life for far too long.

Or I let go too quick, jump to the end, reeling as I go.

Fall is not like that. It is magical and special and is more than fine with memories.

If I look back on my life I can see many people that I have had the privilege of being close to for a season. A week at camp. Four years of college. Co-workers. Neighbors. Friends. More than friends. Not sure if they are more than friends.

People that were very very dear to me. People that were necessary and important. God sent. Special. Lovely people.

I hated it when they left. Or I left them.

I put up a fight more times than I would like to admit. I didn’t let anything be.
  
Or I passive aggressively ignored it.

I guess I knew what was coming and I didn’t want it to come.

Do you know the feeling you have when you have to open that Pillsbury biscuit can and you know the pop of the dough breaking out is coming and you are terrified but you have to unravel that paper anyway?

That is how I feel when I can sense things are changing with someone and I either don’t want to face it or I don’t want to let them go. Even if it is for the best or for something better.

I think it happens a lot. Relationships change. Even our forever ones do.

Love is seasonal.

We get married. We get promoted. We have babies. We decide we don’t want to be friends anymore. Lovers fall out of love. We empty our nest. We are so busy now.

There was a fight. A misunderstanding.

Or just the passage of time.

If you are the one left behind you feel awful. You watch the other go. Sometimes fast. Sometimes slow. You wonder if it is intentional or not. You wonder if you did something wrong.

Or maybe it is you.

And before you know it you are wondering when the last time you saw so and so was and you can’t remember.

Or the time you realize, “We have to talk.”…

Or, if I keep giving an excuse or stay silent, maybe they will just take the hint.

Relationships of any kind are seasonal.

They change. 

If they are like Fall, they can change beautifully.

People are on the same page. Good things in life are happening.
You are grateful for the time you had. You understand it will be hard but you focus on the good. It was wonderful while it lasted.

Or you both get busy and you take a step back. You are no longer in each other’s intimate circles but certainly still care for each other. There is an understanding. No hard feelings.

It is mutual, lovely. It can sound like a Hallmark card or look like a Norman Rockwell.

Here are some of those paintings.

An old saint dies that lived a good long life.

Co-workers say they proper goodbyes.

A couple both came to the conclusion that they aren’t a good long-term match and break it off, wishing each other the best.

Friends transition in life and although they only see each other once or twice a year, they are able to pick up where they left off.

But a lot of times Love isn’t like that.  Seasonal relationships aren’t a Rockwell, they are more like a Salvador Dali.

Here are some of those paintings.

A friend says they will keep in touch when they move away and they do for a little while but then they stop.

Someone is taken too young.

A friend you hang out with all the time gets a special someone or has a baby and now you never see them.

The couple who hangs on for the kids and when the kids are gone they have nothing to hang on to.

One person still loves  and wants to stay together and work things out and the other does not.

People hurt each other. 

Summer overstays its welcome. It just can’t let go.

It’s afraid of Fall because it knows what comes next.

Some things must come to an end.

Winter.

In our Summer all the time world where you must be happy and if you aren’t you can purchase it, no one wants to face Winter.

Too sad. Too barren. Too dark.  Too quiet.

Shoot, if bears can sleep through it why can’t I?

Because I am not a bear. I am a person.

A person who lost people they didn’t want to lose.

A person who hurt people too.

And in Winter, the quiet, cold season, there are no leaves to hide behind.

Winter is lonely.

Why are we so terrified of being lonely?

I think it is because we have to face ourselves in our aloneness. 

Turn inward. Sit in the quiet. 

Face our losses and failures.

And they have names.

Names that break our hearts.

I don’t want to be the endless Summer that overstays a welcome because I am afraid of heartache or hurting someone. 

I want to let things be. Remember the good times. Honor the other person by treating them with all the worth and respect I can give. Honor myself if I am being wronged. Allow Love to change. 

Not be afraid of the Fall.

To quote a favorite movie line, loneliness is, “only a place to start.”

Fall bids us to come walk where the path gets dark.

But we don't need to be afraid of the dark.

What we forget about so often in our avoidance of pain is that if we step into the dark we find treasures that can only be found in the dead of Winter.

Forgiveness. Worth. Love. Reverence.

Hope.

Healing.

The more we resist it, the longer it takes. The more we force it, the less it works.

But it does work.

Seasons change.

Love asks us to give up the fight.

Let it be.

Time to let Fall win the match.

Allow the leaves to turn beautiful shades of reds, yellows and golds.

I remember this as I walk.

I want to be okay with seasons.

I want to practice Fall with people.

Enter into Winter with grace.

And if I do it enough times maybe I can start to shake the cobwebs off my memory.

Fling aside my seasonal amnesia.

Remember the greatest lesson Winter teaches us:

Spring is around the corner. 

“Remember the love, Measure in love, Seasons of love”