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August, 2011:

Dance like your soul depends on it. It does

Dancing. So misinterpreted in this society, and coming from a ‘non’ dancer, this is rich.

Dancing for me has always been something that I know my body
and my spirit wants to do, but I have been so trapped in the mindset of the
society in which I operate, that I seldom dance, because I don’t think I ‘can!’

It’s the domain of the talented.

It’s the domain of those who have that skill, like playing a musical instrument, or being artistic, you have to be good at it, or have a good rhythm, or , or , or.

Nonsense!

For years I thought I had two left feet, couldn’t remember the sequence of dance moves, the acceptable, defined dance moves of modern, ballet, tap, ballroom, Latin American, whatever.

I didn’t look graceful, swift, slender and reed like. My arms didn’t flow, my legs were like concrete columns, instead of graceful flamingo like.

Please, don’t misunderstand, I think the ‘art’ of dancing is exquisitely beautiful, and I do not underestimate the intensity of learning to dance the hours of serious
concentration, physical and mental  – be it ballroom, tango, salsa, etc. I know that to perfect the steps, the seemingly graceful motions is really hard work, but that is just my point. Sure, for those who want to develop a dance routine, that’s beautiful, but dancing, the body’s desire to move, to respond to music, should be a reaction from deep within our souls, a release of stress, conventions, an escape from time itself.

This is about reclaiming the dance, for the hundreds of thousands of us who have forgotten that dancing is primal. It’s an expression of ecstasy, of joy, of who you are.

It is not something that we are only meant to do at weddings, or 21st birthdays, or clubs.

Or something we are meant to learn how to do.

It’s when your soul is moved, and not necessarily provoked by music, but when your body wants to celebrate itself, it’s beauty, it’s place in space, it’s environment. It’s like when the stimulation of spring makes you want to breathe deeper, sing, express happiness. When the smell of Jasmine is in the air, I get this excited feeling within my spirit. An expectation of hope, of new beginnings, of release, of joy. But we don’t often run with that.
We deeply inhale the Jasmine, take a moment and that’s it! That is the sum
total of our experience of celebrating spring, within ourselves. When what we
should do, is dance, or submerge ourselves in spring waters, or roll, like
children over green meadows.

Yes, that last sentence sounded ever so “Enid Blyton” even to me… but that is just my
point. Why do we, as adults, maybe specifically as adults living (trapped) in
Johannesburg, find those concepts so bizarre, so alien? We are alienated from
the simple expressions of joy so completely, that we forget that we absolutely
should be doing those things, and to not be doing them is bizarre.

Maybe living at the coast gives you more of a sense of entitlement to doing such things, maybe it’s connected to the moon and tides, and pull of the ocean, but I can visualise myself, standing alone, on a moon drenched beach, late at night, dancing on the sand. Just dancing, freestyle, with no inhibitions, no agenda, no spectators.

How amazing, liberating would that be?

And why don’t I do it?

Dancing should be abandonment.

Abandonment of fears, stress, anger.

Abandonment of the very self, of control, of expectations, of responsibilities, abandonment of the real world, real life, abandonment in many ways of reasons, thoughts, like shaking off the dust! Just releasing yourself, expressing yourself, without having to be ‘induced’ into it via either alcohol or drugs.

In a way, swimming does that: For me, there is no physical sensation more liberating, exhilarating, euphoric, than that reckless abandonment  – of self – of control – of gravity, than diving into a swimming pool… feeling that water around your limbs,
weightless, submerged, away from the world above, from voices, from heat, the
water almost washes away all pretence, washing away, for just a moment, for as
long as you can hold your breath, the entire world up there. Maybe that is why I try stretch my lung capacity as far as possible to swim underwater for as long as possible.

But swimming is restrictive in terms of seasons, proximity to swimming pools, etc. Whereas dancing, dancing is at your finger tips, any time.

It’s been a paradigm shift for me to realize that you don’t have to be fit, rhythmical, slender, graceful, or even have music with you, to just dance.

You can be as overweight as you like, just swaying is the beginning of releasing so much. So much. Releasing inhibitions, releasing endorphins, releasing the child within you, releasing passion, releasing vent up emotions, positive or negative. Giving yourself permission to experience that dimension of self that we were never meant to have denied ourselves in the first place.
The power of the dance.

So, excuse me, while I (tentatively, kind of shyly, sort of timidly) go and experiment with this bold talk I have just typed…. I need to, yes need to go and dance like my soul depends on it – cause it does!

The taste of blood

Success and failure. Terminology we are confronted with from the tender age of 6!

 I despise the concepts, simply because they are defined, usually,  within such a limited scope.

 In school, success is equated with passing with good grades, being on the top sports teams, then earning good money one day, having possessions your peers envy, living in a given suburb, with all the trappings of the happy family facade. You have had a successful life. Well done. You get a tick, respect, nod of approval.

Failure is synonymous  with not passing at school, not earning good money.

 Money does make life easier of course! And passing in school does make for a happier 12 year experience.

But that is by no means success or failure.

 Success is overcoming. Success is conquering spiritual, psychological, relational challenges.

 This is my personal viewpoint of course, but this is my personal blog, so I need neither excuse or justify my view, I need simply put it forward.

 I respect the guy more who has for whatever personal demons beset him, fallen into the spiral of drug addiction, and has overcome it. The courage, mental strength, personal character that it takes is so intense, so immense, so deep, so hard. I can do nothing but respect such a man.

I respect the guy, who against all odds honours his true self. Whether that means falling in love with the ‘fat chick’ at highschool because he has a deeper understanding and value for human nature, than his peers, who have an idealised, immature concept of sexual love. That is a successful man in the making.

I respect the guy who honours himself in his choice of career, as against the grain as that might be.

 But beyond even that, you achieve the highest accolade of success in my view if you show kindness to another human being.

When compassion burns within your soul so deeply that you cannot BUT give to others, you have succeeded in knowing what the true purpose of life is.

When pain for your fellow human being burns so deeply within you, that you cannot but perform a spontaneous act of kindness, visit a stranger in a state hospital, hug a snot nosed child, and tell him that you love him, although you know not who he is, or what 3rd world disease he bears.

When you ache with the feeling of complete inadequacy to deal with all the horror that is Africa, all the corruption that is our current regime. Then, in my world view, you become worthy of the title of human being.

 Having said all that, I veer onto a slightly different aspect of this topic, but still within keeping of the success – failure concept.

 Success and failure, are most often seen on a vertical axis. The successful people at the top, above, more than, at the head. Moving down the vertical line, on a sliding scale, to the failures who are at the bottom of the line, underneath, below.

 To me, it’s a horizontal line, a continuum. Kind of like the equator, at some point there is a connection, a meeting point, which is the great leveller anyway – death. (a flat line)  In the interim between birth and death, we are all constantly moving around that horizontal line.

Going up and down a vertical line requires such immense UP push, and Slide down terminology.

Moving around the continuum of the horizontal line is much smoother and is, in my view, how easily either success or failure really is to obtain.

 I am not minimising the hours of work and dedication, focus & single mindedness it does take to ‘succeed’ in business, I am not ignorant of the fact that wealthy people do work hard for their money, the planning, strategising, the time, the forethought, all of these are extremely valid and it’s by no means a hit or miss matter. There is no such thing as easy money, or a quick buck, please do not misread this. However, sometimes two given people work just as hard, with just as many really good ideas as each other. One will ‘succeed’ and the other will totally miss the mark. It’s not always the best ideas that are rewarded, it is very often not the hardest worker that is rewarded.

 It’s what I call the “Taste of Blood” that really swings you around this horizontal line, and can see you losing your fortune, your family, your pride, everything, or see you gaining more than you thought you deserved.

 So here is how the taste of blood works:

Come with me to the base line of the taste of blood:

Animal instinct.

When a lioness has been hunting an elephant all day, the heat, the chase, all taking its toll, That lioness is exhausted, hungry, but suddenly, gets the taste of blood. Just the taste. The kill is far from over, but that one taste of blood is the most powerful catalyst to spur her on, to increase her efforts. Just the taste of blood and she knows victory is possible, within reach. That if she just keeps at it, that blood is hers.

That is translated into our lives, every day.

Take the addict, who cannot conceive of this mammoth life changing pattern of behaviour. He’ll never come clean – the task is insurmountable. But one taste of success, one clean day, Just ONE day, and he knows it can be done. So one clean week, and already he can taste that it might be possible.

The overeater who puts a kilogram on, feels so defeated, that the thought process is – why bother, I just can’t lose weight. With that depressing thought, they go and eat themselves into oblivion. But if the scale had reflected a kilogram lost, the person would have been so encouraged to beat the scale, so motivated, so thrilled, that the chocolate / bread holds no power over them, seeing the kilos go lower on the scale is now the new source of power, of self satisfaction, of reward – the taste of blood.

The business man who has one successfully accepted pitch, suddenly believes it can be done. His(her) ideas will be accepted in the market, that he (she) does have something to offer, and the confidence that inspires for the next pitch is immeasurable. The taste of blood.

 Sometimes it’s not even a taste, it’s just a SMELL. It’s just the idea that maybe you could turn this thing around. Just the initial realisation of the possibility, not even the physical manifestation, just that paradigm shift that it could happen, the sniff of it, the whiff of it. But once you have smelt that blood, you will go after it, then the taste of it will push you even further. And from there, it is not even the goal or the outcome itself that is the motivational factor in your success, it’s the taste of blood.

 And failure works exactly the same. Just the other way on the continuum.

 Someone who for whatever reason, be it a global financial crisis, be it a personal bullet, suddenly experiences a few failures and hasn’t tasted blood for a while then lose even the scent – it’s not that you ‘fell’ down the vertical line, just that you started believing the opposite, which took you in the opposite direction.

 So, take what you were taught, the thought process defined by schools and the work force, that successful people so way up there, have always done well, and that for you to “climb the ladder” is so hard, cause it’s so high – and flatten it into the horizontal line it is, saying, if I just move in the opposite direction in my thought process, it’s not that I need to climb, pull, push, it’s just that I have to walk away from where I am right now, towards something else. I haven’t fallen (with all the implications of disgrace, loss, less than) it’s simply a matter of walking this continuum of life taking consistent small steps around the equator, till I reach the point in this  flat line where it becomes a flat line, at which point, none of it will have mattered anyway ;)