Balance and Trust
I love contra dancing. It is this amazing type of folk dance (think the first ballroom scene from the new Pride and Prejudice, except even better!) that I got into becuase of my little sister. Many of her friends enjoyed it, and she wanted to try it out, so I went with her as moral support. The first time I went I was full of trepidation. I am not a natural dancer, unless you would consider Elaine from Seinfeld one, and I was afraid of making a fool of myself.
I was amazed by the ethos of the whole place, young people, old people, and everyone in between coming together for the purpose of having fun as a community. I sat out the first dance, but danced the second with an experienced dancer who took the time to teach me the very basics, and was gracious as I stumbled, always guiding me back to where I needed to be. I made a fool of myself, but no one cared. In fact when I managed to mess up the line, everyone laughed as we sorted ourselves out, never stopping the music to try to make the dance perfect. I loved the fact that I was an accepted member of the group from the very first moment, although it took me some time to figure that all out.
I went back the next time, and was pleasantly surprised to find a group of my own friends there, and they would teach me as we danced. Most of it was simple things that once pointed out made so much sense, and made dancing easier and more fun. I felt my skills improve with every dance. I remember the time I learned the buzz step that allowed me to be swung faster with more confidence, until I felt that I was floating instead of dancing, all the time trusting my partner not to let go and to guide me where I needed to be.
The other night I had another memorable dance. It was during a walz, and a very experienced dancer was teaching me some of the more exciting steps that can be done to vary the "One-Two-Three." As we danced I learned to trust his lead, even if I didn't understand how where he wanted me to go played into the overall whole. When I tried to think it through, we would get tangled, and out of tune with the music. If I followed where he led, I would learn, and get to do something new and amazing. Halfway through the dance he dipped me-- which took me rather by surprise, but he did it so skillfully that I didn't have the time to ruin the move, which would have ended with me on the floor. Instead I found myself in a position of absolute dependence on my partner, while still being an intrical part. At the end of the dance he dipped me again, and this time I knew what to expect, and enjoyed the feeling of being able to trust my partner.
I've grown to be a rather good dancer, not because I'm particularly gifted with balance or grace, but because it is something that I enjoy and participate in as often as possible. It would be impossible to not get better, especially when there are other there who are much better dancers to learn from by engaging in the same activities together.
I think that there should be more areas of my life like that, where I learn and grow because I enjoy it. Where I'm accepted at where I'm at, and naturally become better because others further along are willing to associate with me, and conversely help those newer at it to become better by spending time with them. Learning is all too often associated with pain, for pain is a very good teacher, but I wonder if pleasure might not be a better one.