I Was Living By Default
Last Tuesday night, as I drove to my usual stomping ground for swing dancing, I knew I wasn’t truly in the mood to dance. But this is what I did on Tuesdays and Fridays, and so off I went.
At the studio, I tucked myself in a corner with my iPhone, processing emails, declining dances with hesitant excuses; “I’m just not feeling this song”… “I’m just not into it tonight”… “I’m just feeling off tonight” – the kind of things I have been saying far too much lately.
There was a time when Mondays and Thursdays were like Christmas Eve for me… I would be painfully antsy waiting for the next 24 hours to pass so I could be on that dance floor again.
But I haven’t felt that in a long time. When I arrived home on Tuesday night, two hours earlier than usual, I knew that things had changed.
I have been dancing out of habit, not out of love. I go dancing on Tuesdays and Fridays, and sometimes Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, not because I can’t wait to go dancing, but because it is my default.
I began to wonder what I’ve been missing in favor of my autopilot ways… I was hiding in the corner of a dance studio, avoiding eye contact with dancers, observing others having the glorious fun I used to have myself… for what?
Two days after having this epiphany, I went to one of my cherished places… a nook of an art festival where live bands play every night against a storybook backdrop… waterfalls, streams, ponds, weeping trees and sawdust grounds. I felt magnetically drawn to the old wood floor as the band played “Pride and Joy”… my body instantly reconnected to that latent passion as I danced to song after song after song. My heart fluttered as people stopped me over and over to tell me how much they loved watching me dance. I was in my “home” here… beside the free-spirited locals who let their souls lead their movement and who shimmied in pure joy and laughter.
I was in this phenomenal ambiance; before a group of brilliant live musicians, beneath a darkening night sky with trees draping over me and a waterfall splashing over the hillside. I was among artists of every kind; musicians, painters, soul-dancers, people who truly understand expression; the kind that is raw, unfiltered, uncensored, unscripted and unknown until it comes pouring out.
Freestyle dancing, to live music, in a gorgeous ambiance, gave me a sense of freedom and inspiration that I’ve been missing. I was literally “outside the box” of the dance studio, outside the restraints of a lead/follow partnership. For the first time in a long time, I felt… free.
The epiphany I had that night was this: if it isn’t fun, don’t do it. Someone moved my cheese a long time ago and I didn’t even notice. Revisiting an old cherished event, (something that I was usually “too busy” for because I was always at the studio dancing) showed me the glaring gap between my default and my love.
So I stopped going to the studio. I stopped partner dancing. Now, I only dance when I truly feel inspired to do so. And it’s not very often. But when I do, it’s among artists who infuse me with intrigue and joy… brilliant musicians, soul dancers and mother earth.