Friday, June 14, 2013

What I Have Learned From Dancing

I had a dance lesson last night. It was the second last lesson of a group of lessons that I have bought and paid for. I have one dance lesson left ...

I am afraid that this may be the end. I have stopped and restarted my ballroom dance lessons several times over the past sixteen years. But this time feels different. I don't know if I'll be back.

I was so relieved to step out onto the dance floor and rekindle my love affair with dancing last night! My body knew what it was doing and my brain just relaxed and went with the flow of the music and the lead of my dance instructor. We laughed. I learned a little. But mostly? We laughed. This ... is what hooked me in the first place. The fun factor!

The reality is that dance lessons are expensive. Ballroom dancing is a sport and you can go far with what you learn. If that is what you want to do. I competed. Once. Competition is not for me. But I am glad that I tried. It was worth every moment and penny spent on taking part in that dance competition. But I just want to have fun. Private dance lessons are a pretty expensive way to bring a half hour of joyfulness into my week.

For the past few years, I have wandered in and out of the dance studio. I changed career directions a few times and my finances have been turned inside out and backwards. I still found myself returning to the dance studio. But since I bought that last set of lessons, part of my passion has died. I'm not sure why. I think it has something to do with wanting to build a fence (i.e. tend to the upkeep and maintenance of home ownership) and refortifying my contentment within my own life and home.

I was so glad to find that piece of happiness on the dance floor last night. It was good to be reminded of all that has kept me going back for more (dancing) since 1997. Sixteen years.

I've learned a lot over the course of those sixteen years. Here are just a few of the lessons I have learned from dancing:
  • I have learned to follow. Not only to follow … but to relax and trust the person who is leading. Oh, to be in an environment where blind trust is encouraged and required? It is a good lesson in life, to learn to trust and follow the direction of another human being.
  • I have learned to relax and stop thinking so much. Over-thinking confuses the body’s ability to just go with the flow of things. Life? Dancing? It is all best lived by not thinking so hard!
  • I have learned there are no such things as mistakes. “Different perhaps … but not a mistake”, is a quote from my dance instructor. As it is in life-outside-the-dance-studio. Lessons are learned each and every time we do something ‘differently’ than we first intended. Different may lead to better than you originally anticipated. Just don’t be afraid to try!
  • I have learned that there is no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an illusion. It isn’t real. To attain to be perfect is to limit yourself to only that which you think that you can do well. Forget about being perfect. Just be the best you can be and the possibilities are endless.
  • I have learned to go where the music takes me. There is nothing better than when the beat of a song gets under your skin and you can’t help but move to it. Dancing or just plain living life … follow the beat of the music in your soul. It will take you places beyond your wildest dreams.
  • I have learned that my muscles have memory! Repetition teaches your body what it needs to do so that before long, you can work on autopilot. Sometimes this is a good thing. Other times? Consider your options. Just because it is something you have always done, doesn’t mean that there aren’t better alternatives.
  • I have learned that learning has no end. The learning ends only when you put a stop to it. How (and whether) you continue to learn is a personal choice. There are endless ways to build on the basics. What it all boils down to is: Practice! Practice! Practice!! Practice what you want to learn and you may be amazed at what you can achieve.
  • I have learned that dance is an art form. You start with a basic step. You add a pattern. You add some technique. Then you add our own special flavor and personality and it becomes your own unique art form. Season your life with that which turns the mundane into a piece of work!
  • I have learned to take the lead sometimes. Yes, it is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. But it can be done. Taking control of your own destiny – whether it is on the dance floor or in real life is empowering (and teaches great respect for those who do it with such ease).
Knowing when to lead and when to follow. It is a delicate balance sometimes. In my independent life, I must take the lead far more than I wish was necessary. Perhaps that is part of the allure of dancing. To just take a step back and trust in someone else's lead. It is a beautiful place to be. Sometimes.

Perhaps I am not finished with dancing just quite yet.

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