Shall We Dance?

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I’m pretty sure when I was born there was a rock beat in the delivery room. A typical tutu-craving little kid, I started ballet at 4 years old, and made toe shoe status by 10. Today I might be pirouette-challenged but the need to move to a beat is still instinctive, a fact that eternally (and gleefully) embarrasses my once-upon-a-time teenage kids.

Though I may now groove a little differently, one dance rule will always be carved in stone. When you trip the light fantastic – don’t step on anyone’s toes. From the nervous 13 year-old partners of my youth to men keeping up with my spontaneous footwork, I’ve always tried not to plant my size 7 ½’s on theirs. It’s just well, awkward.

Speaking of awkward, there’s no place more critical for well-placed steps than today’s political landscape. Walking into that minefield, it’s a good idea to tread carefully. The more I read Facebook posts or talk with friends and family, I realize stepping carefully is more than just a decent social tip. No matter how correct your dance moves are, smashing someone’s toe in the process is never the best idea.

Shot through with quicksand and sudden storms, today’s politics have spawned very contentious differences in thought, belief, need and fear. You have to be really quick on your feet to avoid falling into a sink hole. Skillful choreography can help circumvent any spiraling tornado of words though it might not change the deeper divide. The growing chasm will take real thought to maneuver. I’m not talking about having rational,honest answers, standing up for rights, and even fighting for them. You go! I’m talking about remembering what we valued, cherished before we stepped onto this new dance floor, which can be a really slippery place.

In my ‘before’ I had a husband, who like most men are sometimes reluctant to  dance. Most times he was an enthusiastic dance partner but there were times, when some of his medical side effects kicked in, dancing was the last thing he wanted to do. It would have been dumb of me to plead, get pissed off or give him all the reasons it would be good for him. He could see right through that crap! No, when he was able, he’d just see the look in my eyes that said ‘you’re the Fred to my Ginger’ and he’d get ready to boogie. Of course, more often than not, super crowded wedding venue dance floors made it nearly impossible to avoid crashing into someone. Oops.

The political fallout changes faster than island weather these days. Sometimes, the background music sounds more like the theme from ‘Jaws’ than Annie’s ‘the sun will come out tomorrow’. We’ve all been trying to navigate through the complicated rhetoric, dizzying array of issues, hope and confusion. I can almost hear my husband muttering about the cray-cray swirling around us. Some of us are more than pleased with the changes; others are scared and angry. Wherever we sit in those emotions and beliefs, we own them.  Like an old, weathered recliner, our beliefs enfold us. Even if the springs are shot, that comfy chair is ours and we’re keepin’ it.

Tune into  social media and the music is deafening, heavy metal on steroids. I admit, that I read posts and tweets that are often miles from my thinking or values and in my head, I’m screaming retorts. It’s a really good thing  jumbo-trons weren’t built into our foreheads! Media posts, whether they inflame, inform or just plain piss you off, are pretty sterile interaction. The authors are largely unknown so we have no personal whipping boy to argue with. But when the arguments spring from people we know — or thought we did, that’s when things can become unhinged.

As I sit each night to with the tv and my trusty, laptop, I’m freshly amazed each time at what I hear and read. You, too? Admit it, as we scroll through friends or family members’ posts, we find ourselves happy, frozen – or feisty. We read words of those we know with a smile or a shock, and if we were to state our own views, I suspect they might say exactly the same about us.

We are all a mystery to one another; sometimes even to ourselves. That’s life, really. We have a fundamental right to think differently from other humans. Even in marriage, one person’s views can be diametrically opposed to the other but if they find a way to waltz together, it works despite the differences. The hardest thing to accept, in our own egocentric thinking, is that it works both ways. Ouch.

Every single day I miss talking to my guy. Even though we were politically on the same page, if we weren’t,  I would still prefer arguing with him than living the void without him. But he’s not here and is never coming back. Anyone who’s lost a loved one can agree that no words can change things as permanent as death. But they sure can damage those that are still here. Even when we absolutely believe right is on our side, are words worth removing those who also are beside us?

We are all doing a lot of dancing in the dark right now. I admit I’m as hopeful, as fired up, as scared as you of what lies ahead for our country in these uncertain times. This is uncharted territory with air so thick, it’s hard to breathe. We’re all scrambling for maps to find where and who we are. It’s a delicate dance through emotions and beliefs that run  high but are tenuous enough without making frenemies. We don’t have to salsa to tunes opposite ours, but we do need to respect each other’s right to dance to them. And as long as we still dance to ours, the beat goes on.

No, I’m not ‘normalizing’ anything but the relationships we cherish. An escape hatch from landmines might mean some tongue biting or even a sincere intent to understand. Speak your piece, stand up for what you believe but use your voice where it will do good and create change — not damage.  It’s difficult for everyone on every side. Real life ain’t no disco. We found THAT out well enough.

Gray’s Anatomy espoused ‘when in doubt, dance it out’. You lead or I can lead. We can slow dance or tango. If we stumble, if we accidentally bump into each other on the dance floor, apologize. Agree to disagree. Try to find middle ground. Breakdance without breaking your spirit — or someone else’s. On this crazy ride called life, we are all dancing as fast and well as we can. I’m just hoping to do my turn on the floor without stepping on anyone’s  tender toes. It’s best not to destroy relationships or pride when we bust a move.

I want to keep my dance card full of the same people it always held — minus the precious guy who will never be my partner again. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s learning to dance in the rain”. We might presently be in the midst of a deluge and this too shall pass and I want all the people I love around me when it does.

Life is too short not to dance.

 

The emotional divide is unprecedented. Are you choosing your footwork carefully?

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