“I hope you dance. I hope you dance.”
– Lee Ann Womack (2000)
A couple days ago, I got a text at work:
“Dad, I want to have a blog,” Beckett texted. “I think it would be fun and enjoyable.”
I texted a screen shot to Heidi.
“Uh oh,” I added as a caption.
When I got home from work, he shared a poem he had written.
It was reflective. Deep and introspective.
It’s primary theme: Reject the petty, embrace the larger picture, be grateful for life – regardless of the circumstances.
This from a 13-year-old who primarily identifies with baseball, various forms of spicy pre-packaged nacho/corn chips and the video game, Fortnite.
But like all of us: he’s so much more than that. A complex human that’d be easy to define by surface perceptions, but whose core defies any of that.
And so much more.
* * *
We got invited to an interpretive dance performance tonight.
“Duo,” as the show was titled, was put on by Phoenix’s Ignite Collaborative.
The organization, we were told at intermission, invites people of all skill sets to participate in their classes.
“I started dancing when I was 38,” Christy Woodruff, the group’s president told the crowd at the intermission. “I thought I was too old. Too out of shape.”
“This is our first full-length public performance.”
You’d hardly know.
Themes varied from the realities of office life, to the clerk we have a crush on at Starbucks, to the dance we play with the one critical human connection in our life – all while acknowledging the almost equally critical role our next-tier of friends hold.
The latter was a thing of pure beauty – the dance of relationships, courtship, friendship, marriage, loneliness – all portrayed silently by, well, dance.
The kids (I think they were the only ones in the nearly sold-out crowd) sat quiet through the performance.
“This is mesmerizing,” Beckett said midway. “I feel like I could be in a dream, or that I might dream about this later.”
* * *
We were invited to this because of one of my closest friends. His wife is actively involved, choreographing dances, performing in one and, best I can tell, advocating endlessly for the creative community that blesses my city.
As I sat through piece after piece, I couldn’t help but be in awe (jealous?) of the performers on the stage.
I knew, in advance, a good many of them held day jobs. And as adults, they had made the decision to use their free time to pursue a passion.
How could I not be jealous?
Only lately am I starting to come to grips with the idea of what it will take, as so many of you demand, “to write the book.”
These dancers, no doubt, sacrificed a lot to make that two-night show happen.
Held in my hometown’s beautiful Tempe Center for the Arts, it was comprised of nothing but pure professionalism, from the sound, to the custom-made film, to the lighting, to the dancing.
This is a community organization?
Some of these things – the lighthearted ode to romancing the Starbucks clerk, among them – could be virally adored, given the right number of people to set it In motion.
I loved the performances.
And I couldn’t help but think: These people make their dreams to perform a reality by finding a venue that allows them to do it.
These people want something – maybe not fame, but the joy that comes with expressing themselves, in the medium they choose, in front of others – and they find a venue to make it happen.
I need to do the same.
* * *
And I have.
Part of the proliferation of writing these last few weeks has been at Heidi’s request.
“You need to write,” she told me a few weeks ago on the back patio. “This is what you were meant to do.”
I had lots of excuses as to why that wasn’t the case.
Didn’t want to commercialize it. Only wanted to write when I actually had something to say.
Blah, blah, blah.
The truth is: I’m afraid.
My ability to write copy for companies, understand almost fundamentally the way computer languages work and, equally, to comprehend how humans interact with machines, has proven to be a skill set that has lead to a good career.
That skill set is in demand. It pays the bills (with good benefits.) These things are important when you have a child with unique medical challenges.
Writing to tell stories as a career, conversely, is a crap shoot.
Is writing a blog lot at night ok?
Is diving all-in in pursuit of some grandiose concept of a book, or being an author, equally worth it?
Not if you believe in logic.
I get that few who let logic get in the way ever ended up in a fruitful creative/athletic career.
The odds are stacked against you.
Especially if you never try.