A tap on my shoulder signals me to step into the center of a circle of partygoers. This is a dance-off on an autumn Sunday night. A thin, bearded man has also been tagged and now stands in front of me. I start moving in an odd way, what feels like Elaine’s notorious dance on Seinfeld. I’ve never been confident about the way I dance, but I still do it secretly in my great room to my favorite songs. Now I sway my hips and swirl my arms to the sound of techno jazz.
My partner seems relaxed. He lifts his legs and stomps his feet, vibrating his head so that the circle around us laughs. After he and I leave the center and tap the shoulders of two others, they start their dance. Watching them, and the circle of about ten people, I realize that the goal is to make people laugh.
My boyfriend, a tall, strong, German, enters the center with a sturdy woman wearing golden braids, and they spend their ten seconds shoving each other around and smashing their hips together, which causes major hilarity. Another woman lies down on the floor as in a break dance move, though she doesn’t spin. A man jerks with robotic precision. My next turn, I revert to my childhood gymnastics and do a handstand, which draws a few “aahs” from the group.
I laugh along with them, but even though the air smells of apple crisp and red wine and feels of jovial joy, I’m uncomfortable. There is something untrue about this that my mind wants to judge. These are my mate’s friends. I know that my friends would never put on such an exhibition.
Later, thoughts swirl within me as I try to sleep in a queen bed with my boyfriend and his Dalmatian. It’s as though that wild dancing is still happening within my chest. It thumps and jerks through the night. I wake exhausted.
Only during my morning spiritual practice, when I center my attention on my Beloved’s writing, does clarity dawn.
The discomfort has nothing to do with the dance-off. It really was fun, and a beautiful expression of silly joy for our party hosts and their guests. As my Beloved says, “Nothing is unclean of itself.” I’m just afraid that I’m not a funny dancer. And when I really look at this, I realize that it’s okay. I don’t have to be. I see how this experience reflects life. How often during our days are we tapped on the shoulder and asked to enter the game?
The usual response is just what mine was, to play for the crowd, to try to be pretty or smart, to please the boss or mate, to win the game, the move, or the love—to compete and to try to be what we fear we are not.
I take a few moments to revise the night, to see myself doing it differently. What if I had simply danced with the Beloved? What if, when tapped on the shoulder, I had felt the joy of True Love fill my heart and danced to that eternal, omnipotent, and stunning beat? I see my arms as great wings taking flight above any self doubt and my legs too levitating into the sky. I float, flip, and twirl in the Essence, as though I were completely weightless, formless even, without a care to hold me down. That is the dance I can do in any and every moment when I surrender and disappear into the bliss of Now.
When I know the love is within, I can dance to its tune and leave all else to the Beloved.
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