“Hard times require furious dancing.” --Alice Walker
One thing I love about travel is the sensation that I’m seeing the world with new eyes. This is especially true of international travel. When I’m seeing things I’ve never seen before, the freshness of these images awakens me. When I return home, I see my own life, too, with new eyes.
The pandemic suspended travel. But an unexpected perk has been seeing my own home with new eyes. Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. A great example of this is my Saturday-morning freeform dance community, which, like so much else, moved online. The first few weeks, I danced in my living room. I cleared furniture, rolled a yoga mat on the hard wood floor, lit the fireplace, and enjoyed a view of mountains through my floor-to-ceiling windows. It felt almost as lovely as dancing in-person with my fellow dancers, who appeared on my large-screen TV.
One Saturday, my husband wanted to watch sports. We only have one TV, but we each have our own computer. Since our TV is in the living room, I offered to dance in the bedroom. I figured it wouldn’t be as nice because of the carpet, smaller space, and lesser view. I also wondered about bringing high-octane dance energy into the room I reserve for rest.
However, a plus side of dancing in my bedroom soon became clear. The carpeted floor was gentle on my bones. The popular yoga pose “legs up the wall” became “legs up my armoire.” Lying with my shoulders and arms dangling off the edge of my bed, or draping my arched back down five carpeted stairs, became great heart-openers. I also enjoyed using massage balls against the walls. But what was really cool was how I started moving in ways I’d never moved before. Dancing in a soft (padded) area provided a newfound safety that allowed me to travel inward and experience my body, as well as my bedroom, in new ways.
I came to appreciate our wall of windows that bring light and a view of pines and (in the springtime) blossoming cherry trees into my bedroom. It might not have been as striking as our living room view, but the sky expanded my heart. Fellow dancers admired these windows and asked, “Where do you live?” They were surprised to hear I lived in the city. They thought I was out in the country.
Although my bedroom wasn’t as large as the living room, it was varied. I had two smaller, yet distinctive dance areas, one in the main part of the room in front of the windows and one narrow dressing area up five stairs. I never fully appreciated this compact space, with its perpendicular, mirrored closet doors, but at times while dancing I’d wander up there, out of view of my Zoom camera, still hearing music through my air pods. I danced with three reflected images of myself, which felt like I was part of an intimate movement circle. This surprised me, especially since I’d never imagined dancing in that tiny space.
At times during this difficult year, my body has needed to tremble, shake, whirl, stretch, rant, weep, and celebrate. I listen viscerally, and do what feels right in the moment. In this way, new “sight” happens through my body.
Seeing things with fresh eyes is possible in every moment, unless our sight is dulled by routine, judgment, or expectations. Decades ago, at my grandmother’s funeral, while looking at her body in the casket, I thought I saw her chest rise and fall. That’s when I realized that we see what we expect to see, whether or not it’s really there.
And there’s so much we don’t see that is there.
We have the opportunity to drop our expectations and enter into a place of joyful receptivity—no matter where we might find ourselves. We become receivers, taking in as much as possible.
The pandemic showed me that my bedroom is a wonderful place to dance, and as Alice Walker reminds us, “Hard times require furious dancing.” How wonderful it is to pause the racing horses of my mind, drop down into the moment, and “see” with my whole, dancing body!
We don’t have to go looking for new sights; we can open to what’s in front of us. It’s not what we see, but how we see it. Are you looking through tired, disillusioned eyes? Do you feel numbed by what’s familiar? Do you realize how much power you have to awaken in any given moment?
Freedom beckons. The happiest travelers are flexible, enthusiastic, paying attention, and open to infinite possibilities.
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