Finding My Body Again

            Summer. Lenox, Massachusetts becomes home. And I’m surrounded by the glories of both the natural and the man-made world.

Nature? Trees, vistas, mountains, a lake outside my windows. Air so clear and fresh you actually notice what you’re breathing.  Silence at night. Stars so visible, so close. And a chance to see the sky without bending backwards.

Man-made? A host of theatres taking us with them on journeys of joy, of thoughtfulness and insight. Dance concerts bringing us the well-trained bodies of artists from around the world to show us what else we can say to each other. Tanglewood with the  Boston Symphony Orchestra  playing its heart out to adoring fans eating delicious picnics on the grass and reveling in the work of old masters and the new prophets.

But something else, too. A chance to stop the usual madness and focus inward. To not only listen to thoughts but to dare to try to recapture a passion. What was one of my strongest passions: I was a dancer.

Well, the years have rolled by, the weight has rolled on, the old muscle structure but a memory now. The skiing, the tennis, the dance, the physicality and speed with which I moved so naturally yesterday—all gone. New forms of my life took over. New focus, new skills developed  But wait. Up here I dared to open that door again.

I hied myself down to the local community center and started taking aerobics and Zumba classes. What an experience! Zumba is non-stop dancing for an hour to Latino salsa, mambo, meringue plus middle eastern and Indian pop music—all of it making me dance my heart out— all in time with a very fast beat and tunes blaring. No holds barred. And there’s no instruction. Just follow the leader. Copy. Figure it out as you go along. Recognize the steps and the patterns and just keep going! Fumbling the steps? Who cares. Just keep up with the music and move!

The first moments were shocking to me. I used to be a very good dancer. I could isolate parts of my body, think and move on several levels and also make my movement have meaning, both to me and to the audience. And here I was discovering, and needing to relate to, what felt like a lump of clay-like body. Sure I could keep time with the music, I HAD to keep time with the music—that’s one on my most basic instincts.  But to begin to move the sections of my body, to discover what I couldn’t automatically do, what wasn’t responding—all in an environment of a dance studio that was once my life!  What a kaleidoscope of images and feelings flashed through me!  But on I went, without the judging, the berating, the mourning over what I’d lost.

And there was this amazing new set of muscles dancing with me— my smile! I found myself grinning from ear to ear by the second day, when the body began using itself in the old ways. Improvising a little, putting my own style into the steps, recognizing and being able to repeat and enjoy what I’ d done yesterday.

Oh, my friends—what a glorious experience. I thought I’d lost her forever. I hadn’t seen or touched or heard from that Sonya in so long. And I found her again. She never left! And she was so glad to come out of the cramped little box in which I’d tucked her away.

Well- we’re back together again. Dancing every day among a group of people who aren’t every good at it, but, undaunted, they do it. They move and they enjoy it! And my old dancer, the old pro, is right in there with them.  Non-judgmentally- just moving . Having fun. Loving the chance to move again. And smiling.

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