Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Beginner's Mind

Setting moon
My day started in the cemetery, because who doesn't, on waking at 5AM, think "Sunrise shots in the graveyard sure would be cool"? I feel privileged to live so close to this peaceful hallowed ground. And glad that the gates are open that early.
Lunchtime walk
At lunch I walked for a bit. I would have gone further, but I had no hat. The slap part of Slip slop slap just wasn't happening.
Ballroom dancing
But the best part of the day, was ending it on the dance floor. How to express what these classes have brought to my life? I took a crappy photo and tried to infuse it with a sense of how they make me feel.

It's so different from what I imagine an Arthur Murray ballroom dance class would be like. This is a bunch of (predominantly) black people who have the music in them, and who are generous enough to welcome beginners into their midst. We all pay $5; the tuition goes for about 45 minutes for the benefit of the very few newbies. There are more than enough men to go around. Everyone keeps on eye on me and murmurs advice: "Stay on the balls of your feet", "Take smaller steps", "Don't bounce".

Soon it's free dance time, and man after man takes my hand and shows me how to be led, how to keep eye contact, how to stay in my 'lane', how to relax my hands. Everyone is a generous teacher to this baby beginner. I smile, I nod, I take it in. I do not protest or make excuses. I learn. I try to stay on the balls of my feet, despite my aching right ankle. I know that I have not become a superb ballroom dancer in three lessons, but I am not discouraged. I am buoyed.

These strangers have (literally) opened their arms to me. When I leave (way before the night is over) the women hug me and invite me to parties.

Can you tell I'm loving this?

And it's a lesson to me, in how to support a newcomer. My skin is a different colour. I have a different accent. I don't dress like they do. And although I was the Under 10 New South Wales Irish Dancing Champion in ... um ... 1969 ... although I can feel a beat and move to it ... I'm obviously not quite as fluid as the pros.

But nobody shies away. They approach. They are glad I returned this week. They take my hand. They look in my eyes. They hold me tight. They congratulate me on how fast I learn.

I am somewhat in awe of what I landed into here. Because it is JUST what I needed.


eviecarling said...

Bravo, Girl! You have inspired me -- once again -- to go to my local Arthur Murray, Hashi. Thank you! It has been a journal notation of Yours Truly for (as you probably know) 2 years. There is an emotional reason I have not yet ventured out -- and will tell you about it when we meet soon.

'promise to do it this month, though -- and it's in writing on a public site now!!

Thanks again for always inspiring, Hashi. xo

Mostly Turquoise said...


good to read that you are having such a good time dancing, meeting new friends, being welcomed in a new environment. Keep up the good work!!