Not long ago I heard a CBC program that focussed on the importance of celebrations — music, dance, both alone and together. My heart smiled! Ecstatic dancing has actually been a way communities have helped their members out of depression — dark periods of withdrawal, melancholy.

Several of the essays in BECOMING explore metaphors for life and living. Shall We Dance? suggests that many of us, consciously or unconsciously, experience and regard life as a struggle. What would happen if we shifted, lifted, and began to experience life as a dance?

Here a brief excerpt from the essay, and a link to the YouTube reading at the book launch:

“Life for me is, on good days, a wild and gently rhythmic dance. Moreover, I believe we are danced by life and are not, as we often pridefully assume, the directors of the dance.

I haven’t always seen it this way. One evening, over twenty years ago, it was getting dark as I was driving home from a workshop with Robert, an acquaintance and fellow student. That drive became a turning point in my life.

The sky was ragged—ominous, black clouds were scudding across the heavens, matching my state of mind. I was talking about my relationship, the communication challenges, the misunderstandings, the hurt. Robert was driving, and without even turning to look at me, said “You see life as a struggle, don’t you, Jill.”

Robert’s words startled me, and I realized that yes, of course, that was often the way I saw and experienced difficult times, and more generally, life itself: as a struggle, a battle, a fight. It seemed obvious to me, and I had never questioned it. Life as a struggle implied working hard, trying your best to survive, to come out on top.

So when Robert said “You can also experience life as a dance, you know, Jill,” something cracked, and through the fracture I could see a pale light.

Driving home with Robert that day, it was still dark, and would get darker, but there was a golden sliver of luminosity on the horizon that evening in Germany: life can be experienced as a dance, rather than a struggle.”

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