What if being free to dance isn’t about dancing? What if it’s not just an invitation for legs and arms and body to move with the music, heard and unheard? What if it involves a larger dance floor and the partners that swirl around and leap across are my imagination and spirit…the creative inquiry and daring dreams?
What if my fingers are longing to skip across piano keys and my hand yearns to place itself on the waist of a guitar, fingers laced around the strings ready for the waltz?
What if the music waiting to be choreographed is encased between book covers that have yet to be made, waiting for me to flip open the pages of my intention, tipping the pages upside down and shaking them so hard that history and memory, fables and fabrications all fall out into one story — my story, my mother’s and her mother’s, together…
My mother, whose story I sew together like the cloth dolls she used to make with fabric of memory and threads of desire. Her cloth dolls only representations of something real and breathing, now me sewing with words. I hold them out before me, hug them, embrace them hard against my chest. They are all I have of her now.
The other, whose story is all but lost, my mother’s mother, a ghost haunted in one sliver of traumatic memory, coffined behind words echoed in loss, the presence of cob webs, the peripheral shadow I glimpse — the imprint she left on my mom, the only evidence I ever had that she was ever truly here.
How do I write her story? How will she be remembered?… I remember my mother’s laugh. Was it her mother’s? I am told I look more and more like my mother as I get older. Can I find her in my mother’s face? Where else might she be hidden? If not only in shadow, then in sunlight? Where is she hidden so well within my sight?
And what if in searching I bump into myself? And in bumping into myself I discover I have been dancing all along? And just didn’t know it. Just didn’t recognize the music that has become my life? What if in looking for the right choreography I had missed…no, almost missed the dance choreographed for me? What if the choreographer turned out to be me?
My eyes scanning the wall-less rooms of my life, confining just the same but for what reason? Looking to find the acorn on the dirt floor, the tree within it…calling it forth, jumping on branches, singing each limb out as I leap limb to stretching limb — growing the tree, living the tree. Tree top crashing the ceiling, my feet skate across air as I leap and another limb jumps with me, bursting from trunk, an act of faith that it will catch me, landing me just in time — an explosion of bark and gnarled knots, footholds, step ladder to a sky I cannot panoramic vision enough to take it all in.
And it consumes me, and breathes me out. I…am…dancing. With every heartbeat, with every breath, with every flutter of eyelid while I sleep deep, I am dancing. And the music is the music of the macro-cosmic orchestra, the whole in every part…and that includes me.
Yes, I’m already dancing…over couches, on top of coffee tables. Every obstacle — the forgotten Lego block that stabs my foot, the piece of rug that stops my glide, the waxed floor that slips me down, every thing on the path is the path, each hallowed spot on which I place my feet is my dance floor.
And my mother dances with me, and her mother and her mother before her, dancing together, outside of ballet lessons and toe shoes, with fallen arches and fallen dreams, we dance, and I realize that as orphan as I feel, I am not dancing alone, will never be alone and there is laughter as we bump against each other, and the music is beautiful and our bodies powerful as we tell our stories and pass them to one another.
And I pass this on to you.
Can you hear the music…