“Courage is like — it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: you get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.”
When I was in Junior High, I went to a dance with a few girlfriends. Now I had never been to a dance, and had never danced in front of people before. Also, I was ridiculously shy. So in the gym with my friends, I started to dance. Or so I thought.
Apparently I looked like I was “stepping on hot coals”–or so said a kid to one of my friends, who in her helpfulness passed that tidbit along to me. Suffice to say, that, to refer back to today’s quote, I did NOT learn to dance by dancing. That throw-away comment has been emblazoned upon my psyche for lo, these many years. And I can honestly say that it takes fewer than all my fingers to count the times I’ve danced since then (the dances with kids in my Music Classroom don’t count, and the Theme Park shows don’t count either).
I’m a musician, a singer, a guitar player, for God’s sake! But every time I approach a dance floor, I can hear the long ago judgment in my head. A comment that NO one remembered 2 minutes later but me. I won’t even dance in front of myself. I am an absurdly self-conscious wuss–when it comes to this. And being absurdly self-conscious? Very much a life-wasting characteristic. And wussy-ness? Definitely not Peaceful.
Two lessons from this: 1) the tiniest offhand remark can, seriously, alter the course of someone’s life. Let’s be like Ben Franklin and (again, paraphrased), speak ill of no man and speak all the good we can of everybody. and 2) I need to get my wussy ass on the dance floor.
I will courage by ‘couraging.’ I bought a Yoga Trance Dance video and I’m going to do it tomorrow, by myself, in the privacy of my own home. I’m going to dance at the next wedding I attend (Amy, take your time, okay?). I’m going to grab a man friend and take a Latin class. I’m going to realize that nobody gives a rat’s behind what I look like on a dance floor because they’re all worried about themselves–I’m convinced that a lot of us regress to Junior High when it’s time to dance.
So. That’s one way I’ll be ‘couraging’ my way to Peace of heart and mind this year. Sort of frivolous, I guess, but if it still makes me flush with embarrassment just to write about that long-ago day, that’s some old baggage that needs to be tossed.
How will YOU be couraging this year? Share and inspire.
3 thoughts on “Shake it up, baby”
OMG! Same thing happened to me, but it was my freshman year in college. I didn’t go to dances in high school, but I was so excited about the Friday night dances when I went off to college. I had so much fun working up a sweat and getting into the music… until a couple people told me that I looked spastic and people thought I was on drugs. The thought of people noticing me and talking negatively about me brought my enthusiasm to a screeching halt. I’ve been frozen in fear at the idea of dancing in public since then. I’ve had friends try to drag me onto the dance floor and I’ll dig in my heels and get angry if they don’t drop it. It seems kinda stupid when I say it, but it’s a strangely deep wound.
But I do still enjoy dancing like a spaz in the privacy of my own home 🙂
Of course, I’ve overcome fear of what others think enough to have a public persona expressing views that run counter to the cultural meme… so maybe I could learn to dance in public, too.
Dancing as if on hot coals is totally jazzy!