I have this image of happiness. Whenever someone mentions the word happiness, I think of my grandmother. This free-spirited blonde dancing by herself. Laughing wildly as her hair blows around. The only dancer on the floor.
In contrast, I was a serious child. I liked to win at games. I liked to be good at things. In short, I was a perfectionist. I just wanted to be perfect — because, if I could just be perfect, then I would matter. Then I would be worthy. Then I would be happy.
I remember this one time in Aruba. We went to watch a band play, but we arrived early. No one was dancing. Impulsively, my grandmother grabbed my hand and shouted, “Dance with me!”
I shook my shy, little head.
“Dance with me!” she repeated as she began to move her body rhythmically.
My cheeks turned red. I look down and shook my head more defiantly.
“Are you embarrassed what these people think? Screw all these people. Get up here and dance. If you don’t, I’ll dance even more ridiculously to embarrass you more.”
So I got up to dance. Only I didn’t know how. I whispered very carefully, “But I don’t know how to dance.”
My grandmother looked at me, puzzled. “Know how? You don’t have to know how. Just move the way the music tells you to.”
So I closed my eyes and let go. I felt the music carry my arms. I felt my hips begin to shake.
I opened my eyes. I was dancing.
Speaking as a recovering perfectionist, I can say with pretty good authority that surrender is never easy. Letting the music move you is easier said than done.
We’re terrified that, if we’re not in control, things won’t go our way. We’re terrified that we aren’t good enough. We don’t know how to do it. We’ll fail. So we have to hold on tighter, tense up, get stiff.
Birds listen to the music of nature, and when the beat hits, they fly south. In one fell swoop. No questions. No hesitation. Seeds wait until it’s their time to grow. They trust that, within them, they already have all the intelligence need to become the tallest tree.
But we resist. We struggle.
Life isn’t meant to be a struggle; it’s meant to be a dance. Sometimes we take steps forward. Sometimes we take steps backward. Sometimes we even spin in circles. But it’s all part of a dance. When we let go — when we just listen to the music of life — we realize that we already have inside us everything to move us along.
The music’s always been playing. We just have to decide if we’re still going to hold ourselves back, or if we’re going to dance.
I love dancing because it reminds us that there’s nothing we have to do or say or act or make. All we have to do is allow. If we can just allow ourselves to be swept up in our passions and loves and interests — if we have the courage to do what we really want — then we’ll be all right.
Try it yourself. Let go of those reigns. Give in. Trust. Surrender. Feel the music. Feel the rhythm of life. And then, when you’re ready, let it carry you. Let it move you.
So what do you think? May I have this dance?