Monday, June 6, 2011

The Courage to Dance

Photo by S. Wiens
May 23rd, 2011

In her young adult novel Speak, Laurie Halse Andersen writes, “Gym should be illegal. It is humiliating.”

I certainly felt that way as a fifth grader when it came time for the swimming unit in physical education class. Having never learned to swim after repeated attempts at the sport, I was embarrassed by my lack of ability, and scared to let my peers in on my secret. I remember crying in angst while my parents held me in their arms the night before swimming started.

Prior to sending me off to school the following morning, my father affirmed my feelings in writing and encouraged me with these words, “Be courageous. It is hard to be on display, exposed for all to see.”

I was reflective of this childhood memory one weekend because I found myself leaning on my father’s words of advice as I got ready for church. I had agreed, along with several other people, to be part of a flash mob during both morning services.

(On a side note: A flash mob it is a well choreographed dance for groups of people to perform in public in the midst of unsuspecting crowds. Oprah’s staff pulled off a surprise performance during the premier episode of her 25th season when the Black Eyed-Peas were performing. Check it out here: Now, back to the story :)

I was all excited to perform until I woke up Sunday morning and realized what a vulnerable act I was about to commit! Dancing is for professionals. Sure, I have all the words to Michael Jackson’s Thriller memorized, (to which I’ve been known to dance around my house from time to time pretending to be a zombie), but I wasn’t looking forward to dancing in public; I wasn’t relishing the idea of putting on display the fact that I don’t move well.

So, I once again took my father’s advice: Be courageous! I put on my back shirt a friend made for me, which reads “Agents of Awesome,” ( I needed all the moxie I could muster!) and headed out the door.

How did it go? The dance was taped using six different cameras and posted to You Tube. Check it out here:

I have to admit, my heart pounded the whole time while I waited nervously in my seat to join the dance. I also have to admit that I am glad it is over and now I can cross it off my bucket list: I have participated in a flash mob. Finally, I have to admit that it not only takes courage to dance in public, but maybe even more courage to enjoy myself and the way that my body moves. I often find it challenging to fully relax and engage in recreational physical activities, or appreciate other’s enthusiasm towards them, when such activities often serve as poignant reminders of my imperfections. It is in that moment that I need to pause and realize how much fun I could be having if I would simply change my attitude and perspective. The truth is, I enjoy dancing to music (I just prefer to do it in private)! It is fun to move my body to a good beat—even if I look ridiculous. I may not excel at dancing, but that doesn’t mean I should exclude myself from the joy it brings! Life is short, and there are many opportunities out there to have fun that involve movement—all it takes to is a little courage and a catchy beat!

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