Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Prompt 4 - The Dance Of The Forgotten Mind

The fourth prompt taken from   I plan to free write from each of the 365 prompts given on that page.  If you feel like it, join in and write from a prompt and post your writing as a comment here.  Share in the freedom!

Dancing: Who’s dancing and why are they tapping those toes?

I am.  It's me.   I'm dancing.  Except I'm not dancing am I?  I have not been allowed to dance.  Not because of any proscription passed down to me by an authority.  I was never one of the religious extremists who proclaim that dancing in the church is a sin or one of the extremists who proclaim that dancing outside the church is a sin.  Look it up!  Both of those strange views have been taught and laid down as laws.  But my law came from within.  Don't dance.  Don't let go.  I think too it came in part from my parents.  I remember at one point I wanted to dance.  I wanted to join a dance group and take lessons and I asked whether I could.  I was told by my mother in no uncertain terms "You can't do that.  It's silly.  And it's for girls."  I remember the conversation very clearly although my mother swore years later that she would never have said such things.  Sorry mother.  You said them.  And I, foolish child, believed you.  Just like when that song by 10CC was playing and you looked at me and said very bluntly, "See, big boys DON'T cry."  And so I didn't cry.  And I didn't dance.  Except in times of rebellion and friendship in Bradford nightclubs or infrequent ceilidhs.  Even now I display reticence at a ceilidh.  It takes a great deal of encouragement before I am one of the dancers rather than one of the watchers.

Nevertheless.  I am.  It's me.  I'm dancing.

That's the plan anyway.  From experience and desire it's the plan.

I went dancing last year.  Once.  Just once.  It was one of the best experiences of the whole year and yet it was not repeated.

I knew such dancing happened.  I'd heard of it a year before and though I wanted to experience it for myself I wasn't able to do it.  I thought I wouldn't fit there.  I thought I couldn't fit.  I had such rules, such crazy beliefs.  I kept myself apart from living because I thought I didn't belong.  I find I still keep myself apart.  This year I want to break with apartness.  This year I want to embrace the atonement.  Not atonement with a holy God.  But atonement with life, with living, with the fire of Spirit, and with myself.  This year I will dance again.  I promise myself that.

Last year I left the church.  And my Sunday evening was empty.  I'd been the kind of Christian who would feel guilt about missing Sunday worship.  After giving up church - initially just for Lent - Sunday felt empty.  The first Sunday I filled the evening with an evening of healing and music and meditation led by a crazy woman walking a shamanic path.  I can't claim that any healing occurred but it was an amazing experience to sit in the half-light as she sang and drummed.

The second Sunday I decided to go for it:  I would dance.  I would join another bunch of crazies and see what happened.  And if it was awful I wouldn't mind.  All I would have lost would be an evening and a few pounds.  All I would have gained would be an experience and a little more self knowledge.

I can't express what it took for me to attend.  I can't express the inner battles I had to overcome.  I can't express the inner discourse that had kept me away for a year and the strength it took to go to a place in which I would undertake to join a previously self-forbidden world and meet with a group of strangers.  The inner battles continue.  I've found so many excuses not to return.  An initial reason.  Sometimes other good reasons.  And, if I am honest, a whole load of flimsy excuses too.

I walked from the station to the place of the dance.  Determined.  I could do this.  I would do this.  Just go and see.  Have fun.  I would dance and feel no shame.  God.  How can someone feel so much shame about dancing?  How can they feel so much shame about creative urges?  How can someone reject parts of themselves that are so wonderful, crushing them and despising them?  I could answer those questions.  Because I lived the answers.

As I walked, even the graffiti seemed to laugh at me.

I laughed back.  Hah!  I'll show you.  I'm going.  I'm going to have fun.  And no order on a wall or in the recesses of a mind will stop me.  No more banning.  I'm going to be free.

I arrived at the dance venue.  It turned out I was a little early and ended up helping to provide the lighting - candles placed all the way round the room, although there was daylight too.  The people smiled and welcomed me and I was surprised to find the space felt safe.  Somehow I knew.  These weren't going to be people who looked at me as some kind of strange interloper.  They weren't going to reject me or critique me for never having danced, or for whatever I did or didn't do that night.  This was a place of acceptance.  A place of life.  A place of wonder in each person.

That evening what we would all take part in was called "Live Rhythms."  It's like "5 Rhythms" but whereas that is usually danced from a mix of recorded music this would be from a live band.  I'm not going to explain 5 Rhythms - you can look it up if you wish.  All I knew was that the dance would be a "wave".  Whatever that was.  And that from start to finish there would be a focus on five rhythms.

We began with warmup exercises of movement, alone and then in pairs.  Pairs.  I usually find that part stressful.  I very nearly always arrive at things alone and finding a pair is tough for me.  I can retreat into a shell of the recluse at such moments and it feels like I am become invisible as friends pair off with each other, each person not alone while I stand alone.  To pair with a stranger is the start of social and I freak inside.  And yet.  And yet.  On this occasion it was simple.  The person closest to me just smiled and we joined in the movement, much of which was mirroring.

Afterwards, as the 5Rhythms were introduced I sat on the floor.  Not at the edge.  Not by a wall where I could have cut myself off.  But close to the centre.  I felt safety.  I felt protection.  I felt that it was all going to be okay.  I felt a strong sense that it was right for me to have walked in the door.

We began.  And I moved.  To begin with I did not stand.  I found myself moving in ways I had never moved before.  It was glorious.  Glorious and became more glorious and I let go.  Truly I did.  I let go.  For the first time.  Perhaps the first time ever, but certainly the first time for many years.

I moved and felt the rhythms, the beat, the melodies and moved and flowed and - to the best of the abilities of a body which is unfit and inflexible - expressed beauty, joy, the flame of life.

I moved and felt and allowed myself to feel more and then the strangest thing happened.  The most fantastic thing.

I lost my mind.

I'm a head person.  I stay in my head.  It doesn't switch off.  I think.  I stay in my head and refuse to leave it and see what else there might be in my heart, in my soul, in the stars, in the fragrance of Spirit as she washes over us all continually.  I don't leave my head.  Ever.

And yet.

I lost my mind.

I forgot my mind.

And in those moments of forgetfulness there was total freedom.

In those moments of forgetfulness there was revelation.

In those moments of forgetfulness I experienced life in abundance in a way I'd never known in decades of churches and mental discipline.

I lost my mind and found light and healing.

After the wave we sat, in circle.  We shared of the experience and I couldn't stop smiling and I vowed to myself to return.

I haven't returned.

Initially there was a reason.  Days later I hurt my knee and the pain was pretty bad.  The following Sunday I tried to dance.  It hurt so much but I walked up the hill to the dance venue and arrived at the entrance.  But the pain.  I knew I couldn't do it.  And I walked away in a flood of tears.

But the knee recovered.  And I did not return.  I kept seeing news of events online and kept wanting to go, dance again.  I did not return.

So who is dancing?  Whose feet are tapping?  (I'm not sure my feet tapped at all that night)

Who?  Not me.  No, not me.

I will dance again.  I will.  I will meet those people and join the wave of the free again.  I will.

And soon.  I vow that to myself.  The dance will be a fragment of the plan without a plan.  When the Sunday dances begin again I will attend and I will dance.  I promise myself that.  Because I deserve it.

I deserve to lose my mind again and to smile and laugh and cry with the crazies.

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