dancing by myself
perhaps you should know: no one else was home.
it was an otherwise ordinary morning. the sun was golden, was pouring in in that way that sunbeams, come november, pour like molasses on a tall stack of flapjacks.
the birds, just out the window, were chattering like schoolkids on a bus on a fieldtrip.
i was trying to write. i decided, maybe, a backbeat would help. my brother, one faraway now, one off in maine, came to the rescue, as often he does. he knows music, has a collection as eclectic as any i’ve ever known. global music is his thing, africa, ireland, new orleans, brazil, guinea-bissau, india. water drops pouring through copper pipes, he has made it be music.
i slipped in a disc, one he’d once made. sao paolo ripped through the speakers, and there on the rug, i was twirling, was clapping, was flowing like some sort of teenager who wasn’t afraid, wasn’t ashamed, was lost in the bass and the backbeat, and the forest of sound that came crashing my way.
did i mention that i was alone?
and then as the volume rose, and so too the sense of abandon, it hit me how home–that place that after a while, after we pay some attention, haul in the art work that stirs us, lace it with blankets and pillows and odd sorts of collections that remind us–home is not only four walls and a roof.
not at all.
home is the ultimate intimate relationship we all yearn for. it is the space where we can be naked, and i don’t mean without clothes, although that’s possible too.
what i mean is it’s the place, the rare sanctified place, where we can be the wholeness of who we were made to be. we can pull back the armor, the shields, and the shell. we can be the turtle undressed, if we so choose.
we can rock. we can spin. we can pound on the floors with our toes.
we can slip into skin that feels at once selfish and stripped of the self. we can indulge in the rhythm of being wholly alive, to the point we lose track of our selves.
then, we think, oh my God, please not let there be a reader of meters, who just got a glance in the window.
i’ve seen it, i’ve caught it, with children. tiptoe down in the basement, and there, behind a door that’s half-closed, a 5-year-old boy is pretending he’s there in a stadium. he’s throwing and cheering and running the bases all at one time.
and then, the second he sees you’ve arrived, he flinches and turns into stone.
the magic is dashed. is over. is gone.
it’s back to a dingy old playroom where the heat never comes.
when we’re home, truly home, and no one is watching, we get to try on our very deep selves. not deep, mind you, like some kind of a far-reaching thinker, but deep like down to the place where the wires run straight from our soul. where we are, maybe, as close as we get to the being God once had in mind.
a creature who twirled with all of the rhythm and nuance, and reckless abandon, deserving of a hand-made design. an original, in every which way.
what a magnificent thing then if there is one place in the world where we feel back to the womb. where we allow our home to be more than merely the place where we eat, where we sleep, where we soak in the tub.
how amazing that home is the place where we get to practice. get a taste of the feel of being, well, completely at home. we can dance, we can sing, we can pretend we’re some sort of a hero. we can give speeches, if that’s what we please. we can write, and recite, poems. and we don’t have to wince or to blush.
for that is the gift that, in the end, we’re all seeking. it is eden without all of the apples. it is, i would think, the point of this whole exercise, really.
it’s what we are seeking, time after time, in most every relationship that matters: a place and a space where we don’t have to explain. where we simply can be, can unpeel the layers, and not be embarrassed.
the more we undress, the closer we are to our life’s truest love. and how blessed it is that the place where we live is, in some ways, as close as we get to that place of total abandon.
no wonder we get through the door with a key that unlocks no other place.
it is a sacred thing, i would insist, to come into a space where we can dance with abandon. where we can be not diluted, or half of the plan of the God who imagined us.
but where, with every inch of our skin, and all the room in our heart, we can fill out the shadows and cracks. we can be wholly at home in the soul we were meant to be.
talk about dancing naked. eek. would someone please tell me if this made one ounce of sense. i write with my eyes closed sometimes. pretend i am all alone, which i am. only the minute i hit that gray button, kapow. i’m not so alone with my thoughts anymore. but this whole thing here–the chair, that is–is an experiment, an experiment in exploring the homefront, the near and sometimes the far, searching always for grace in the everyday. we’ve never touched on anything close to the joy of dancing unwatched. for me it’s dancing (the undulations of dance undo me, but i was always afraid of the stage, of moving my body). for some it’s writing poetry. there is a something all of us love, but we’re too bashful, too shy, to indulge with an audience. how blessed that home, like a love that is wholly accepting, that rarest of love, allows us to be our nakedest self. i find that, frankly, exhilarating. how about you? and to connect an even larger dot–isn’t that what it’s supposed to feel like to know you are wholly accepted, loved to your core, by God, most of all? take it and dance, people…..
p.s. i wish i was such a techno-wizard that i could weave in here the same backbeat from sao paolo. so you could dance while your read along…..apologies….
Kudos my dear for taking the risk and sharing much of what we all think and do, but are too timid to put out there. What an inviting table. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t dance nearly enough –alone or with others. Great pic by the way. Gotta go and turn up the music.
Billy Idol would be proud of you.
Like the Zen phrase “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” there is also something like, “Can you separate the dancer from the dance?” There is a Hindu god, Nataraj, Lord of the Dance, and this is what one website in Britain says about him–reminds me of your post today: “In the East, we don’t think of God and the world as a painter and a painting ~ we think of God as a dancer, Nataraj. You cannot separate the dancer from the dance: if the dancer goes, the dance goes. If the dance stops, then the person is no more a dancer. Dancer and dancing exist together, are one, they cannot exist separately: you cannot separate them. God is more like a dancer. I am one of His movements; you are also one of His movements ~ you may recognize it, you may not recognize it. The only difference in the world is that a few people recognize that they are Gods and a few people don’t recognize that they are Gods. The difference is not of your being, it is only of recognition. [OSHO, from ‘India My Love’ (The Rebel Publishing House), quoted by kind permission of Osho International Foundation, © Osho International Foundation, http://www.osho.org ]P.S. I have a friend who lives alone and reports waking in the middle of the night, turning on the stereo loudly and dancing for hours.
this makes complete sense; as any good prayer, wish or direct-dial-call to the heart should do. thank you for sharing the sunlight and spinning with us today.
friends, oh my. i am dizzy. and not only from spinning. your pouring forth is a beautiful thing. makes this feel like a duet, and not just a whirl all on my own. carol, bless you for introducing the Lord of the dance. bring all the traditions, the cords, here to the table, i say. there is so much enlightening to be done. and i know not enough of the eastern thinkers, feelers, believers. i did, to be honest, completely feel tingled by the presence of God there as i whirled. how can we not imagine a fluid movement of God? the voice might be still (the still small voice), but not the winds, not the power of a God who animates all? you serve us well, you the reference librarian here at the chair…..bless you each and all. don’t let me stop the flow. i just had to leap in and say thank you. especially for the wisdom of nataraj……by the way, this feels like a lovely way to wind up the week. blessed weekend to all…..
gospel of saint john, king james version, has the crazy line “these and greater deeds ye shall do.” the speaker, of course, is that nazarene sage at least once referred to as “g-d intoxicated.” how powerful that message (about the deeds, not the intoxicated). would that my religion classes of years ago focused only upon that message.anyway, its friday; i am home and in need of this sacred space. music is on, eclectic mix now but earlier played a recording of waves at the beach for mija, our new cat. the oceanic soothes her, it seems. i climbed into the tub to soak. water and sounds of water have a cherished place in our home (and according to feng shui, it helps brings prosperity.) but the evening moves on and the water has given way to wine. cheese, crackers and salami, too. i sink into the chair as into the evening, knowing that i won’t venture out. and my wife just walked in, home from work. yes. all together now in our sacred space. this is where i am, where i want to be.”The Whirling Dervishes” dance a mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent through mind and love to “Perfect.” Turning towards the truth, the follower grows through love, deserts his ego, finds the truth and arrives at the “Perfect.” He then returns from this spiritual journey as a man who has reached maturity and a greater perfection, so as to love and to be of service to the whole of creation.
Oh I dance alone all the time! This makes complete and perfect sense to me! And it IS the most wonderful place to be, secure in your own self, and your own movement and your own joy. I dance for my kids as well as they are still the ages where it’s cool rather than embarrassing, and I know those days are sadly numbered. Another thought about this — I wish we were all that comfortable ALL THE TIME, regardless of physical location. Last weekend our family went to a bonfire night / Guy Fawkes party at one of Spencer’s classmates’ homes; a very British tradition indeed, great fun, great music, much hubbub and people of all ages. At one point amidst all the chaos I saw Spencer dancing around happily in his own little world in the middle of a crowded kitchen. How much longer will he do that? Not long I imagine. It was magical to watch.Must off now — much much love!! xoxox
I dance alone, I dance doing the dishes, we dance all together, we dance while my husband plays the piano or to a goofy dancey cd–all the while in our 12-foot wide city townhouse with frankly little privacy. Right up on the street, windows and walls connecting us to our neighbors on both sides. I can dance here, we can dance here, not so much because of the house–which we do love–but because of the people. It is the love in a space that makes it sacred, makes it a home. Also a wonderful meditation on heaven, that place about which Jesus remarked, I go now to prepare a home for you.