For as long as she could, she danced: wherever, whenever. Every day.
She didn’t dance because she was the best at it. She didn’t dance for the attention. She danced for love of dancing, for the pure joy of it.
Long before I met, and fell in love with, and married her, she had this other love. Through the ups and downs of childhood, and adolescence, and a turbulent young adulthood, and a failed first marriage, she had this.
Music made her want to dance. Dance made her free. For real joy always comes both from the outside in, and from the inside out.
She was very good at it, and it did garner her a lot of attention. In addition, she got to the point where she could be paid to do it, and to teach it, so she did both.
While she was still a teen, she had been told she had structural deficiencies in her knees – parts weren’t there that should be – and that she probably ought to give up her more athletic pursuits, as one or the other of her knees could give out at any point.
But given the cause, she reasoned, that was ultimately going to happen anyway. So she danced: wherever, whenever.
When I showed up in her life, she had three daughters, and all of them danced as well. The eldest was slim, graceful, and her body expressed itself naturally in dance: but she loved dancing for the attention more than the feeling, and so ultimately fell away. The middle girl loved the creative aspect of dancing, and dreamed of maybe being a choreographer; but other disciplines offered her the same chance for creativity, and so she too fell away. The youngest danced only because she wanted her mother to be proud of her, so she fell away the soonest.
We have a niece, though, who has continued to dance and to teach dance for love of dancing. Even with a young family, and a busy career: because not to do so is unthinkable for her.
My wife’s knees eventually got to the point where the kind of dancing she loved was not possible anymore. But we can, and do, dance some at wedding receptions; I also often catch her dancing with one or more of our grandchildren in the living room, as the familiar signs joy on her face have me falling in love with her all over again.
“Dancing”, for you, may be some other thing. It may be riding a bicycle, or running, or playing basketball; it may be writing, or going to the movies, or participating in poetry readings; it may be music, or painting, or drawing, or cooking, or surfing, or blogging — but, whatever it is, cherish your joy. Nourish it. Love it while you have it.
For the lessons of love and joy are the same: they’re born, they grow, they will change, and they will ultimately pass away. Part of life is about wringing every bit out of these experiences while we can, then letting them go when we must.
So dance for as long as you can: whenever, wherever.