When I was young, my mom was a dance teacher. That’s her above, Myrna, likely 18 years old (late 1950s), close to the age when she became a mom. She taught out of our basement in our Edmonton home. It was tap. Others came that taught baton and jazz. Mostly to neighborhood kids. I remember them being aged 4 to about 12. I grew up with recordings of shuffle ball change rising up through the ceiling. That and a lot of tap shoe tapping sounds.
I never became much of a dancer myself. I preferred sports — ice hockey, baseball. A bit of football. The basement dance studio was where I got to practice taking hockey shots with a tennis ball at a makeshift net. It was great fun. Hours and hours of it with friends and cousins.
As an older man, I have come to appreciate another kind of dance. It is a dance of paradox. Being able to be in one thing, and then another. Or one thing until I’m not. I’ve come to appreciate deep dives and then movement. A different kind of tap. A different kind of baton. A different kind of jazz.
As I reflect on this, anticipating convening tonight with 25 people to begin five days in online retreat together, I find myself thinking about dance.
The dance that is surrendering to a not-knowing — oh how this grows important muscle and skill. Yet then also, claiming a clarity to guide a next path. Unknowing and claiming dance together.
The dance that is welcoming and expecting a magic in life — it so matters that we remember the extraordinary. Yet then also, making our commitments to the mundane that sustain life. Magic and mundane dance together.
The dance that is way-following — welcoming the wisdom of those before us, or sometimes the benefit of paved path. Yet then also, way-finding to create unique and rarely taken approaches. Way-following and way-finding dance together.
The dance that is a vision inspired by the long arc — oh how it matters to live with high purpose, daring to dream. Yet then also, living a commitment to the present moment with as full of attention as we can muster. And then the next moment. And then the next. Long arc dances with present moment.
I’m glad that dance is a part of my life. If not in the dexterity that is tap from those days when my mom welcomed so many kids to our Edmonton home, definitely in the way that dance has taught me to move with things seemingly opposite, that in fact create life together.