A Meditation On the Nature of Life
DANCE—physical movement of any kind, really—has been an important part of my life as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of twirling until I fell down, dizzy with elation. There were countless years of ballet, tap, and modern dance lessons, dance performances in high school, Jazzercise and ice dancing in my twenties. Then came ballroom dance in my thirties and forties, with its hours and hours of practice, private lessons, nights out dancing, extravagant gowns, and glitzy ballroom competitions.
Dancing with Life is another kind of dance, no less full of beauty and grace, moving through the ballroom of space and time. Like a dance partner’s lead, turning me to the right and the left, here an underarm turn, there a spin or a twirl or a backbend, I respond to Life’s events and circumstances. Together, we make a glorious romp through the room, a slow, sensuous dance of love, and sometimes the hip-hoppity swing dance of changed directions.
In this dance with Life sometimes I lead and sometimes I follow. I am both the masculine and feminine, the initiator and receptor. Sometimes I step on the toes of Life, causing us to stumble. Sometimes Life steps on mine, and I get angry. When I am at my best, I notice, interpret, and respond to each lead in a way that makes this dance of mine unique and beautiful. And when I feel that I’m not doing a very good job— stumbling and disconnected from my partner—when I feel the most insecure, I take comfort in the knowledge that I have an audience of unseen beings who are clapping, urging me on, praising me for every effort.
Learning to dance fluidly and with grace takes time. I wasn’t born knowing how to dance, only that this is why I came. I looked forward to gliding over the surface of time, threading my way amongst the other dancers, occasionally joining a circle dance, waltzing with family and friends or strangers, skipping around one another in intricate patterns of interaction. But unlike ballroom dance, there are no set movements. Life and I are engaged in a freeform, contact dance. Life is my teacher and dance partner, both; together, we create the sculpture of movement that is my soul’s expression.
Learning to dance well can be nerve-racking, embarrassing, and downright hard. It has taken a lot of practice to trust my partner, relax in the safety of Life’s arms, and give myself to the joy of the dance. In the end, I think the effort is worth it.