I’m in San Diego for a dance event, but I feel incredibly sad. These weekends are supposed to be inspirational, energizing and rejuvenating. Sure enough, I find myself profoundly inspired by a tango performance that is the epitome of what I hope to become; it’s magical in every way.
However, my failure to find a skilled, dedicated partner has me feeling especially ungrounded. I’m suddenly feeling the angst of unfulfilled potential. I feel incomplete. I feel unchallenged and bored. I thought I had something unique to build upon; something that would attract an amazing partner who shares my aspirations. But right now, I feel that my “magic” is gone and I’m losing hope. I feel lost in the crowd. It hits me hard today and the confluence of all this has me nearly in tears.
I have time to kill, so I seek a place for lunch. I find myself at Café Gratitude; by the name alone, I know I will be at home here. I order a green drink and a black bean burger. The waitress brings the drink first. “You are complete,” she says as she places it before me with a reassuring, loving smile.
I’m a bit startled until I realize that “Complete” was the name of the drink I had ordered. The irony of this flashes through my mind as I take a sip. I don’t feel remotely “complete”, so I quickly distract myself with my phone until my food arrives.
And then it arrives. I turn from my phone to see a waiter holding my veggie burger before me. “You are magical,” he says with a powerful gaze into my eyes. He says this as if it were an indisputable truth. He says it as though he is commanding it to the universe. He says it like he intuitively knew that I’ve written myself off.
That’s when I got it. I ordered precisely what I needed to hear. I needed to be reminded that I AM complete – even without a partner. Perhaps my magic hasn’t worn off just yet – maybe I still have a shot at being a captivating dancer and living my potential after all. At Gratitude, everything on the menu is named with a word (i.e., worthy, extraordinary, brave) that is then used to present the customer with an affirmation.
I went to Café Gratitude for lunch. Yes, I got fed. But in a most unusual way, I also got validated. I felt that my soul got the hug it needed. I got reassuring whispers from angels and encouraging nudges to keep going. I heard the very things that I felt the greatest doubt about.
They could have just served me lunch and left me with a great impression of an amazing plant-based menu, awesome ambiance and flawless service. But I felt touched by their business model. I felt impacted by the experience. I felt re-centered and grounded by their thoughtfulness. One waiter, Rowan, talked about the company and menu names with such conviction and passion that I teared up.
The little things count so very much. Café Gratitude didn’t just serve me – they impacted me. And I really, truly, deeply needed that today.
Better than walking or running – it’s dance-walking! Saturday night a group of 70 people (plus a live band) gathered in San Diego for a dance-walk. We spent two hours dancing down the sidewalks of North Park with the band playing everything from “I Feel Good” to “When the Saints Coming Marching In”.
We passed swanky restaurants and laundromats, joyfully shaking it, waving and cheering. Everywhere we went, people lit up in joy. Many people broke into dance when they saw us and high-fived us as we passed.
We busted loose at intersections as drivers beeped, waved and gawked at our twirling, whirling pandemonium. We danced on the benches, swung ourselves around the poles and went wild like a pack of kids high on cotton candy.
We shamelessly frolicked, cavorted and tripped the light fantastic for a half dozen officers. One stopped, watched us a bit, then began doing his own little dance in his police car.
Around 9:00 pm, we hit a string of residential homes. As we came upon the first house, we noticed that a family had come outside; smiling and dancing along with us. At the next house, a little boy with his parents were standing at the door, smiling and watching us. At the next, a man was already joyfully shaking it on his front lawn by the time we got to him.
The music was infectious and so was our dancing spirits. We got people out of their houses, onto their front lawns, laughing, shimmying and shaking their bodies.
Even though I am a dancer and therefore, usually very mindful about how I am moving my body, this was the first time I can recall truly going wild – randomly kicking, jumping, spinning, flailing my arms – I was totally unrestricted, uncensored, free as a drunken sailor. My goal was to move my body. Whether anything I did made sense or looked good did not matter to me. That sense of unbridled freedom was exhilarating.
I believe we are meant to retain the child-like spirit that allows us to not care what others think while we let our hearts burst open with wanton freedom. Life is supposed to be fun and filled with playtime.
That night, 70 of us had the time of our lives. We planted the seeds of inspiration. We shifted the energy. You want life to be fun? Go out and actively participate in life. Without caring what others think.
Reporter Ben Aaron with the original dance-walker (who started it all)