Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cha Cha Cha

"the secret to spiritual practice is doing it precisely when you don't feel like doing it."
--Jay Michaelson

... dancing...! The words fall 'pon the male ear as fatefully as the word Voldemort falls 'pon the ear of the wizard... yet for some reason I've always felt smaller because I can't dance. All I have to do is hear an old song like "Dancing Machine" or "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" or "Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)" and the ancient agenbite bites once more, as it did in [choke] middle school ... the wallflower psychology, ya know, learning the truth at seventeen and all that. It's still there, many years after seventeen, though mercifully attenuated by maturity (or premature senility).

One either ignores this sort of thing or one faces it down. When Sophia and I got married, the ignoring days were over, since we planned to dance the first dance at our wedding. We took a few lessons with this Russian guy who was Bolshoi-punctilious but who made it fun, and we whirled a credible go of it after our vows as Ella Fitzgerald sang "I Could Write a Book." It was wonderful. Once wed, we talked about dancing more, talked about finding black tie galas to attend. I mean, I have the tux now. And I'll take any reason to hold Sophia close to me and look into her stunning blue eyes...

So we're taking this ballroom dance class. In a hot-as-hell gym in another town with a semi-professional dancer who reminds me of the Heaven's Gate guy. Not private lessons but a class with--how can I say this?? --undergraduates. About 20 of them, with whom of course we have to practice dancing. And I like holding Sophia close, but-- those other chicks aren't Sophia. And I danced with a guy at the last class because all the girls were taken. Not that there's anything wrong with that... but...

I haven't told you about the alcohol wipes. They're not as big a factor now, not in my new life of elementary school and Cub Scout camp. But for years they were my crutch, my graviton shields against a disgusting world. The germs... the viruses... the... other people's sweat! Like the chick I had to dance with the other night, a very good dancer but sweaty as hell and not wearing enough clothes and ... can't the gym have some nice delousing showers?

But microscopic bugs aren't the real issue. Dancing bring up my whole Quasimodo complex-- That Feeling of Perpetual Unworthiness that I've done battle with for years and have all but defeated... but you know demons don't die easy. The body image issues... the feeling of clumsiness... the 40-foot-long mirrors running down both walls reflecting 20 svelte youngsters and-- my aging, cetacean form. That stuff.

So instead of Being Here Now or trying to see the divine in the class, the students, the teacher, the dance steps... I was letting the loser scripts ("I can't do this," "This is stupid," "I have better things to do") get the better of me. Hell, I could at least have remembered that Kali dances in Shakta mythology, that Shiva dances, that She's my Beloved and He's my role model. (At least we're taking Ballroom and not classical Indian dance...)

Sophia is a lot of things. She's a mom and a poet and a photographer and a scholar and an institutional hard-ball playa and a teacher... and a Teacher. This is what she had to say about being the old person in the dancing class in the hot gym at night after a long day: "I'm here because I want to be. And I don't have to be the best dancer in the class, I just have to learn it the best I can. It feels weird to be 20 years older than the next oldest student in the class, but I don't care what they think. I don't care what the teacher thinks. I don't have to make a good grade. I'm doing this for me."

Sound familiar? Do what thou wilt.

Germs can't stop you, sweat can't stop you, even false self-images from the past can't stop you, if you decide to do your Will. But doing it means doing it, acting with your whole self. This is what I see Sophia do every day: act with her whole self even if she's just pulling weeds. I admire her for it and I love her for it, and I love myself when I am that way, when I heed Krishna's words and cut away doubt with the sword of knowledge, turn to God, and stand up!

It's funny how our fears can divide us from ourselves, lead us away from what we want to do. But it doesn't have to be that way. Our fear-born self-obsession can turn the world into a tragedy, a horror show, a bland Becket farce, but it doesn't have to be that way. Krishna had to fight in a war. All I have to do is dance-- and seek my Mother.


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  2. Anonymous8:29 PM

    you should get songs on