Shall We Dance?

Hello? Um, (tap, tap, tap….) Is this on? Anybody there? How do I use this thing?

It’s been a while. I’m not sure I remember how to do this. By my records, the last time I sat down to write was April 17th. It’s now the 4th of July weekend, and I’m contemplating the fact that although I’ve thought about writing my next blog entry many times, almost daily, I have been unable to sit down and get my thoughts to paper. It’s almost as if I lost my voice on that date, those 11 weeks ago, when I shared some thoughts in a post called “Making Music in Grand Pause”. Since then, I have changed, the world has changed, and I had to sit it out for a bit, to get my bearings. I feel almost ready to try again, and put down some of what I’ve been thinking, but it’s not so easy. These are not flighty thoughts, for these are anything but flighty times.

When I spoke about the Grand Pause, I likened our circumstance to floating in mid-air, waiting to land. It felt like we were holding our collective breath, hoping for something to take us out of that unsure and horrible place. I wanted so very much for the next movement in the symphony to begin, for the feel good moment – to be back in the loving arms of a familiar, soaring melody, or to be swept along by a driving and reassuring pulse that would guide us home to safety. It was unfair of me to set it up that way. I knew it wasn’t going to be that easy. What did that even look like to me? I didn’t know then, and I certainly don’t know now, as I can see that the road before us is as unsure as it’s ever been.

As I look back on the early posts in our now oh-so-normal COVID-19 world, I knew it would happen. I knew I would grapple with the enormity of the meteor that hit us all, that would forever change life on earth. I knew I would offer some panicky, uncomfortable thoughts, I knew I would grapple in some superficial way with the profound chaos that I felt swirling around me, knew I would run out of adrenaline, and withdraw. And so I did. For the time being, I ran out of encouraging and positive things to think or say, and I just had to sit in the midst of it all for a while.

When the virus first surfaced, I reacted to the initial shock, I wrote down some feelings, some feeble encouragement (for me more than anyone else), I tried to connect with others thinking all the same thoughts, and eventually – I succumbed. I grew quiet, while floating in midair, in that stupid Grand Pause. The weight of it was too heavy, and the suspension turned into a free fall. I had lost any semblance of insight, or desire to gain any, and I became a passive observer. For awhile.

A few weeks ago, I made an uncanny and strangely foretelling analogy about the power of the Virus and the set of circumstances it had created, and how I felt like it was pinning me down – how it was holding my shoulders to the ground until I stopped flailing, trying to escape it – mentally and physically. There was a moment when the power dynamic switched. I went from clinging to the comfortable life I knew of just a few short weeks before, grasping tight to the picture of my perceived life before the Virus came, to mournfully accepting that life would never be the same, and I simply didn’t know what to make of it. The Pandemic now had the upper hand, and I fell, under the weight of it. I surrendered, mentally. I accepted that we were all in a strange new reality, and nothing was going to change it, like it or not, for now. So, I kept to the business of keeping my head above water, taking care of my family, selling houses, and trying not to crumble, emotionally or otherwise, from the incomprehensible nature of the haunting situation at hand. And I fully realize, because I’m unspeakably lucky, I have been given the advantage to do just that.

And then. It was literally a matter of days after I spoke of metaphorically being pinned by the ever-present weight of the virus, that the actual knee of a police officer on the neck of George Floyd (SAY. MY. NAME.), and his subsequent murder, fanned the flames of a worldwide anguish, and we heard the scream of pent up rage and grief. I felt, and continue to feel, the most devastatingly profound sadness, and outrage – at this moment in time when dark forces continue to suppress and oppress, threatening to take our lives, our health, our dignity, our hope as a human race.

And so, I honor George Floyd, and every victim of violence and hatred, and the vital Black Lives Matter movement. There has been a communal suppression of countless people, over hundreds of years, that cannot be ignored, on so many levels. These are stories and voices that cannot and must not be quieted. It truly is my hope and belief that the seeds of change and awareness will begin to reap growth and advancement for all. I pledge to do my part.

Here we find ourselves, shattered by a world pandemic, that is racing through our cells and psyches at lightning speed, leaving hundreds of thousands of us dead in its wake – while a voice calling for equality that cannot be suppressed, is raging against injustice, horrific brutality, and generations-old mistreatment, and is floating around our globe, demanding to be heard.

I wonder, how much can we take?

Our earth, our humanity, our very structures of civilization and the way we co-exist with each other and our fragile planet – how much can we all endure? I want to believe – ENOUGH. Enough and more. Enough to see us through to a better place – to a livable place. A healthy place. A just and fair place. A place of dignity for every human, everywhere, no matter what. A place to land safely, for we can no longer afford to stay in this shameful Pause. The time has come, to move forward, and leave this ugliness and darkness behind.

Every day, I wonder, how can we even begin to pull ourselves out of this mess we are in – a mess that has been so many generations in the making? How can we battle this slippery and relentless virus that continues to invade our bodies, our communities, and even our newly forming ideologies? How can we rid our societies of hate, judgement, prejudice and ignorance that has been growing and festering for so long, such that our societies don’t know how to function any other way?

Of course, I can’t decisively answer these looming questions. But with a tentatively hopeful heart, a reverence for the beauty I know still exists but remains shrouded, I believe we must all take the steps we can manage. Like the broken, hesitant, flawed and awkward people that we are, we must turn our attention once again to the music that has always been there, but occasionally pauses. We must allow it to start up once more, as it beckons and lures us onward, after this fermata – this complete break in time and consciousness that was put upon us by this Coronavirus. We must gather our courage. We must not be afraid to stumble forward with authenticity, respect, and good intentions. We must look beyond ourselves, wade through our fears and biases, hold out our hands and open our vulnerable hearts to the future that terrifies us, and ask …

Shall we dance?

For it will be a dance – learning how to exist in a world where a virus runs rampant, with no regard to where its victims live, or what they believe. It will be a dance – exploring our comfort levels for being in crowds, going to restaurants, sending our children back to school. It will be a dance – feeling “safe”, taking a miraculous vaccine that might allow us to be within 6 feet of a stranger without fearing contagion. It will be a dance – living amongst a divided nation, where people refuse to wear masks, or scoff at the advice of health care professionals who know that only caution and proper measures will keep the virus from spreading further. It will be a dance – a giving and taking between those willing to meet each other in the middle to try to create a more fair and just world. Who among us will be the first to take those tentative steps onto the dance floor? Who will be brave enough to accept that outstretched hand that invites us to be healthy, respectful, responsible, and kind?

Will this dance be elegant, courtly, polished and playful? Will it be smooth, pretty, and effortless? No, not always. We, like awkward teenagers, might simply not know how to dance. Our insecurities may get the best of us, no matter how much we yearn to be graceful, and connect with beauty. Sometimes, our overtures to others may be unmet. Just as we get our courage up, there will be those who deny us, and we will feel foolish. We will occasionally stumble, and fall on the floor, injured and broken. We will become ensnared in the tangle of each others’ wills and perceived entitlements. We will attempt to engage in conversations met only by hurtful rhetoric, long-held biases, and willful ignorance, by some.

But that’s not all that will happen. I believe that there will also be brilliant moments of warm embrace. There will be the meeting of minds and bodies, swirling in joyful pirouettes, shored up by the music of compassion and understanding. I believe that in trying to dance with one another, we will make progress, because at the end of it all, we are truly only one people, on this one planet. We are all we have. We will need to lead or follow, depending on what we can instruct, or learn. We must seek out partners to dance with, for none of us can create a better world, alone.

I believe that even in the shadow of illness, persecution and even death, our collective human spirit will leap and soar, and dance fiercely until the dawning of a new day. Because for now, while we are present and alive, we still have the ability to learn, love, and heal. The way I see it, we have no choice. I cannot bear to think that it can be any other way. So as the old adage goes, you gotta get up to get down. What are we waiting for? Let the dance begin!

Be well,

Julia

P.S. Please remember to wash your hands, wear your mask at all times, and keep 6 feet apart while dancing. Thank you.

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