I dance in my dreams.
I took ballet lessons as a child, studied more intensely as a teen, and taught briefly as a young adult. I loved ballet. An ankle injury brought it to a screeching halt. Then babies, work, homemaking, more injuries and weight gain made any hope of finding my way back to it slip further and further away.
But I dance in my dreams. Even as this aging body fights me day by day – by night I am a young and beautiful dancer. I can stretch and leap and turn. I am lean and light and remember every step perfectly. I feel so alive. So whole.
This past week I had an experience that left me feeling very ugly. Ugly on the inside, and ugly on the outside. I think sometimes people are so cold and cruel to each other – trying to pass off an insult as a joke. But it left me feeling very discouraged about myself. I knew I needed to move past it, but it just kept pulling me back in. Whenever I find myself down like this, I’ve learned it can be good for me to declutter a bit and clean something out. So I tackled a few of my dresser drawers and came across my old ballet slippers. The once buttery soft pink leather had become faded – stiff and rigid over time – kind of like me. I tied my graying hair back, forced the slippers on my one-half-size-bigger- than-they-used-to- be feet, pulled up some ballet instructional videos online and went to work.
When the music started – my muscles remembered! First position… plie’…tendu…pas de bourr’ee. I cannot bend as deeply or turn as gracefully as I once did. I cannot extend my legs as high or balance as long as I could in my prime. But they remembered! Steps and combinations came back to me and for the hour I danced I was once again young and graceful, slim and beautiful. I am certain it did not look the same, but it FELT the same.
The tiny little ballet teacher on my computer screen assured me that it’s okay to not be fifteen anymore. It’s okay if the steps weren’t perfect and the moves weren’t just right. It’s okay to take things a bit slower and treat my body with care and respect. My afternoon of ballet left me feeling alive and beautiful, energized and encouraged.
The words we use and the actions we choose should be considered very carefully. We have within us the power to trample another’s spirit. We also have within us the ability to raise them up and uncover a lost part of their soul.
Tomorrow I may wake up a bit sore. But tonight I will dance in my dreams.