I was a little late to dance class on Friday. I hit every red light getting there from my coffee date with Bill and then ugh ... I had to pee. When I finally arrived, put my bag and water bottle down along the wall, someone had claimed my regular spot where I usually dance. On the side, next to the wall. It's not my official spot but people in the class choose where they feel most comfortable and their place stays pretty much the same week to week. There was nowhere else to go but to the middle of the room.
I like being on the fringes. It's easier to blend in when I'm on the periphery. I feel most comfortable tucked ever so slightly out of sight.
On Friday I wasn't in my comfort zone. Having to dance right in the middle of everyone is a tough place for me. I had to be a lot more aware of what I was doing, of how much space there was around me, of where the other women were moving. I felt more obvious, every little mistake magnified. I couldn't disappear.
But halfway through class, I noticed that I had a lot more energy than usual. The women on either side of me and in front of me were working hard and so I pushed myself just a little bit more to keep up. I was much more in the present moment than usual because of my heightened awareness of where I was dancing in relationship to the people around me. I couldn't disappear into my thoughts like I normally do during class when I'm problem-solving whatever dilemma is at the forefront of my mind. Despite starting off where I didn't want to be, I enjoyed the best workout that I ever had in this class.
During cool down, instructor Patti Michelson played the song We Ride by Missy Higgins, a slow, pretty song we've been ending the class with for weeks. We Ride begins with the lyrics "Suddenly I feel anything is possible" and Patti played the song all the way through and then a second time, commenting, "This is how we should start every morning, telling ourselves that anything is possible. Right, Kathleen?"
I was called out in the middle of the room, in the middle of an epiphany: Anything is possible as long as you are in the middle of it all. But standing safe and unchallenged on the sidelines, I miss out. I don’t push myself. I get lost in my thoughts a lot of the time. I'm unaware of the energy of the people around me. I make sure to stay out of the way.
Missy Higgins sings:
We are sparkles in the desert, we're rainbows in the night.
We are ever-changing shadows who've just been set alight.
To sparkle and shine, I can't play small along the edge of my life anymore. I must be big and brave - and undeniably present - in the very center of my life. To be in the middle of my day-to-day life means sharing instead of disappearing. Sharing my small successes on Facebook instead of keeping the news safe and private. Requesting advice from a favorite mentor who I haven’t seen in a while. Volunteering my expertise generously and unabashedly. Asking again for testimonials from coaching clients. Confiding my own messy challenges with motherhood when I’m giving presentations to other moms. Having the courage to let go of the outer shell of perfectionism for the tender authenticity underneath. None of these changes may seem big and brave to you, but they are giant steps for me after a lifetime of playing small on the sidelines.
Missy Higgins’ song reminded me of a barely remembered quote from Clarissa Pinkola-Estes and so I went searching to find it:
“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a
stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold
in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds
signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lanterns of soul
in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both,
are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light
from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to
calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.”
I'm not going to shy away from standing in the middle of it all anymore. I will show my soul. For coaching clients. In massage sessions. For my family and friends. With strangers. In dance class.