I've just returned from my first ever hip-hop dance class. My body is so deliciously tired, used, and stronger somehow. I'm so drowsy, I can barely type. I don't remember the last time I've ever been so body tired ( I'm lying. LABOR!).
I've suffered a dance-less existence for too long. Every therapist I've ever seen has prescribed "dance more!" in just about every session.
The desire for a dark dance floor and loud (but just the right kind of) music quickens my heartbeat like it used to when I'd spot the guy(s) I had a crush on in college. It's that brand new, unbridled, unused joy bubble reserved for novel experiences that slam your awareness into NOW.
I felt that rush of excitement this morning while walking to do some work at a coffee shop and thinking about class tonight. As I strolled along the familiar street, I contemplated that rare quickening, the joy only accessible to me when I dance. Absolutely no other time in no other circumstance can I tap into this particular, specific kind of joy.
I think people assume that because I make a spectacle of myself on the dance floor, that I would not find this class uncomfortable or look awkward or that I would pick it up easily. Error.
As I stumbled though new movements (WTF hip hop! Why you have to stay so low? Man, my thighs!) and conditioning exercise (I did NOT just sign up to do planks, oh hell no) with my flabby arms and thick ankles, I decided to thank my body for movement. I hugged those puffy, strong ankles and smiled at them. Those ankles are as endearing to me as Joel's gray patch of hair behind his left ear or Bowie's ill-timed demands for hugs and kisses.
As I danced, I felt my body feeling foolish. I looked silly. I couldn't get the simplest of steps, despite my years of high school cheerleading and illustrious career as a dancing wedding entertainer.
Not too long ago, if I'd endured that kind of imperfection in a new experience, I would have cried myself all the way home. I would have felt my heart beat anger and disappointment through my veins. Worst of all, I would have quit. Just like that. Because if I didn't KILL it the first time, it would have meant I wasn't supposed to be a hip hop dancer and I wouldn't want to waste my one precious life pursuing something I wasn't good at.
Nah. It's time for a new way to be.
That's why I've embarked on a new campaign to rewire how I walk this earth. Phase one: Unteach the know-it-all inside of me that she has to be perfect. Taste and see that the real pleasure of life is buried in the trying and trying again. Feed my dance-shaped curiosity and know that once I master this silly hip hop walk we learned tonight (it's fucking fierce when my teacher does it, but I somehow end up looking like a creepy upright octopus), I will just want something else to master, another thigh-burning sway o' the hips to get good at. And then, I'll look stupid once again.
And that's the point. Learn something new, look stupid, keep doing it, find joy, learn something new, look stupid, keep doing it, find joy.
Let's call it full on fool acceptance. Unlearning perfection and poise. Saying YES to the whimsical, unconcerned, costumed freak who wants to jump around like a lunatic asshole and laugh about it.
I don't have any guarantees of this, but I have a hunch that cultivating some crazy might just help me tap into a formidable source of power. An unbridled, scary with joy, thigh-strong monster of a woman that just might gobble you up on the dance floor.
Now I must go watch Beyonce dance and sit humble before my queen.