Monday, January 12, 2015

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance

As I stood on the porch of the hotel, gazing off into the distant morning fog that was theatrically rolling over the Golden Gate Bridge, a beautiful forty something year old woman approached me and and bluntly asked "Are you a dancer?"

I wasn't quite sure what to say. I hesitated for a moment, but before I was able to answer she continued on.

"I am a dancer." She said. "I used to dance professionally in New York City. I lived the dream. And I can tell from the way you stand-- the way you carry yourself, that you too are a dancer."

"Thank you." I told her, humbled by the observation.  "I used to dance. But work and life have kept me busy over the past few years, so I'm not a dancer anymore."

Instead of carrying on and accepting the vague answer I had given, she looked me sternly in the eye and said "You are always a dancer. It's something that never leaves you."

Her words struck a chord in me that hadn't been played in a long time.  Dazed and confused; I looked back into her Louis Vuitton sunglasses, unsure what to say. But before I was able to formulate my thoughts into words, her family arrived--as well as a rush of other strangers. So we casually said our goodbyes and went on our separate ways.

What a random encounter. It amazed me how some strangers are so fearless in their approach and can spontaneously speak from their heart to someone they'll never see again.

I went about my day, but I had mixed feelings when she left. I had thought about her words and I believed them. But at the same time, a layer of doubt was rolling into my head, just as the fog rolled over the bridge early that morning. Could I really consider myself a dancer, even after all the time that's gone by in which I haven't danced? A dancer is what I once was. The past is over.

Most people would just take it as a compliment and move on, but I was being dramatic (as usual). However, I am allowed to be. Because a life without aspects of theatrics is not one I'd ever want to live.

I thought about that encounter for the rest of the day. Although what she said made perfect sense, I had a difficult time allowing it to be true. How can "it never leave me" when its something I reluctantly left?

After shutting off my over-thinking piece of a brain, I destroyed the doubt, and finally allowed the words of this stranger to liberate me.

I realized that the phases and stages of our lives evolve us into the people we become. I may not dance anymore, but the almost 20 years I spent in dance class have shaped me into the weird little girl I am today. From the way I walk to the kitchen, to the way I walk down the street-- I always feel that rhythm in my soul, and it will always be there. Even if I don't realize it.

I don't have to dance professionally to be a dancer.

I don't have to write professionally to be a writer.

And don't have to be famous to have a spotlight. I'll just create my own.

It's not a false sense of reality, but an artistic way in which I view my life. And nothing can be more authentic.

The parts of ourselves that we once were-- the parts that we loved, but have drifted apart from, will never leave us. We are, and will forever be, all the great things we've ever been. From dancers to baseball players. Musicians to painters. Old talents never die.

A few months after the encounter with this woman, I found myself standing on the same porch admiring the city skyline, as I often did, when an older man approached me.

"You look like a dancer. You stand like one." He said. "I'm from New York, and go to a lot of various dance shows."

I was completely caught off guard. Confused. Was someone playing a joke on me? Is that lady back, and did she set this whole thing up to see how I'd respond? I awkwardly looked around, before I remembered that he was awaiting a response.

I pulled myself together, and simply replied:

"Yes, I am a dancer."

And in that moment, the rhythm in my heart was reset to the new beat of the universe.

That is all.



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