The feet remember the dance. . .
The heart remembers everything it loved and gave away,
Everything it lost and found again, and everyone
it loved, the heart cannot forget.
~ Joyce Sutphen (from What the Heart Cannot Forget)
These are my hands.
See that thumb, the woman in pink dancing?
Bone tired after two 4-hour sleep nights, I plopped on the sofa. Art was upstairs. Sheryl Crow on TV. I melted. When Sheryl lit into Everyday is a Winding Road (I get a little bit closer), I drifted to driving across the desert in 1995. Santa Fe to Anaheim for a rendezvous with someone important to me I’d lost track of 20 yrs. before. Sheryl’s album on loop. Me feeling wide open like the landscape and sky I drove thru. I rose from the sofa, and danced.
Oh, my, I used to dance. I’d close the halls down. Beg, even argue, for one more song. I’d set the car rocking car-dancing, goad others to chair-dance. I danced in my living room, danced at concerts, danced where-ever African drums sang. I danced to chase demons. Danced to invite angels in. I once danced eight straight hours at a party. Movement without prescribed form. Without right or wrong. Nothing but my soul showing, body moving, blood churning. I don’t know exactly when I stopped.
I remember incidents. Discomfort hearing a remark how I didn’t act my age as I danced around a pool. Feeling my increasingly soft belly move on its own. Another time disappointment following shocked realization I tired at three minutes. The happy random resurgence over the six years I worked-out in the gym. When I quit drinking, I thought perhaps scotch or wine drove my blood coursing for hours. And at some point I crossed to no longer puzzling how I lost it. I accepted with wistfulness something gone. My soft belly wrapped in self-consciousness, as if others could see through my clothes. As if I looked ridiculous.
What I know is when I was a dancer, my guiding word in life was Experience. I pushed myself past shyness to attend parties. Stretched myself to travel alone. Took any invitation for something new. That by the time I stopped I’d achieved what I thought was important to have – marriage to a stable person, a house we owned in a sweet, historic neighborhood, friends with good jobs, membership and acceptance into an association of respected professionals, furniture I picked out myself and paid for, a straight A college transcript, a budget and the reasonableness to fit within it. I was legit the way I was supposed to be. And in the midst to getting there, the dancing stopped.
Looking back, I see I started a new dance inside myself when my outsides settled. I dove headlong into my artist self – beads, clay sculpture, mixed media, pastels. I listened to silence with an awakened spiritual nature. Studied relationally based psychologies, attuned to nature and mythologies. I know I could’ve done both, dance outwardly while I dove inwardly, but I didn’t. And the richness of awareness I have now I can’t imagine life without.
In that time I also become a walker. My body calling when my energy lags. My better Self beside me in my strides, helping me face worries and frets, reframe if I listen. I say my Gratitudes, feel them in my body with my paces. I return clearer, more present in the world afterwards. One morning just past Christmas last year, on my walk long before any hint of dawn, I noted how some houses stood dark that only the day before shown beautifully with holiday lights. I thought how I’d miss terribly the magic when they were all gone. And a joy rose inside me so that I spontaneously sprung into song, singing over and over in full voice as I walked, Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o’er the plains, and the mountains in reply, echoing their joyous strains, Glor-ooooor-ooooor-oooooria, in excelsis Deo. Not caring one bit who heard me.
I’ve seen the video of the dancing Nana often. The last time I saw it I realized I’ve started chair dancing openly in restaurants, again. Thru entire songs. And lately while working, I’ll let a song rip on the computer, jump up and dance. I think it’s time I reclaim the dance. I think it just may save my life.
Tell me. . .What have you reclaimed, lately?
Another journey. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life
A favorite: David Byrne
A secret: Nana could be me one day.