I love to dance. I have never taken a lesson, unless you count that one tap lesson which is forever etched into my brain due to the sheer force of stress. I still shiver when I think about “heel toe heel toe.”
Regardless, I have loved to dance since I was a small child. There are tales of me starting conga lines at bluegrass festivals and stomping my feet in the dust, barefoot and alone – all while the Sunday morning gospel singers played.
There was a lot of music played when I lived with my mum and stepdad. Loud and varied and always just right for dancing along. We knew musicians who slept on our floor when they traveled through town. They lifted us up onto their shoulders and sang and shouted and made the world alive with movement; alive with music.
Later, living with my dad, the music changed to a distinct country twang, musical and filled with story. There wasn’t a lot of dancing. But there were occasions when my dad was called upon to bring out the spoons and accompany my lovely aunt on guitar, Maritime kitchen party style. Those moments breathe like life in my memory.
Then there were the dances – those school dances when the boys lined up on one side and the girls on the other, two parallel lines jumping and mashing about all jittery and joyous. It felt like home – the most at home I ever felt at school. I was outside myself – the chubby mousey blond girl everyone forgot about shed her skin and the bright world shone through as she danced – forgetful and free.
That feeling was always the same – even when I went out dancing in my early twenties; dancing with friends at bars, pubs, or concerts. I could dance all night and never see a soul between the tight spaces on the dance floor. I danced for me.
Later, I danced with my kids when they still fit on a hip – we danced in the living room, “a wild rumpus” of movement. We danced.
But that was a long while ago – the kids have long since outgrown my capacity to carry them on my hips. Our days have turned to more serious matters and doings and goings about. There are no more school dances, or nights out at the pub; there are few concerts or weddings. I hadn’t danced in a long time.
But this summer, a dear friend lit a fire and helped me make hula hoops with the kids. Not your little dollar store hoops but big ones even I could use. Sheepishly, I started hula hooping – and I felt a little awkward about it. I felt exposed to the world out there hula hooping in my backyard like some overgrown kid. But then I put my headphones on (which are wireless – and wonderful – many thanks to you, husband) and I let music fill my head. I closed my eyes, shut off my oft times busy brain, and let my body take over – moving to the rhythms.
I was dancing. It felt like home again. It was the closest I have been to joy and freedom in a very long time. I felt a forgotten piece of myself come alive again. I hadn’t realized how much I needed to dance – how important it was to the wholeness of my person.
It can be easy to put aside those things which seem to have no “place” in the day to day living out of a life. But sometimes, those “things” are pieces of our hearts, our beings and they need to be part of our lives not matter how out of place.
So if you spy me in my backyard hula hooping, or dancing around in my living room despite embarrassed teenagers ducking into their bedrooms – I hope you see joy and freedom.
And if I spy you – flying a kite or doing somersaults or cartwheels or swinging high on the swings at the playground – I promise to rejoice with you in spirit.