I looked at the mess around me, knowing I had to really tackle deep cleaning today. But I didn’t want to dread the work, resent the mess, or feel overwhelmed by the task ahead. I decided to turn
on an upbeat song on Spotify and my sons instantly responded to the change music brought to the scene.
Kai joined me in the dining room, moving his body to the music, while Ezra swayed in his chair and clapped. I felt my melancholy fade away as my feet stepped to the music and I clasped my baby’s hands in mine, lifting him and listening to him laugh along the way. We played Matchbox Twenty’s Our Song repeatedly, not wanting to let go of that feeling, clicking play yet again to recreate the joy of letting go and simply enjoying now.
A short way into our dance marathon, I noticed the blinds were open for anyone to see my off-beat steps and enthusiastic singing-along with Rob Thomas. I considered closing them, remembering the time when I first really understood that the way something makes us feel doesn’t always translate into the visual we create in our minds.
I was maybe 11 or 12, babysitting the neighbor’s kids across the street. The kids loved dancing crazily to upbeat music and it provided a great afternoon’s amusement. I remember turning up the music, opening the blinds, and letting it all go. I felt emboldened by the music, carried by the joy of the moment, somehow imagining that joy translating for the world outside.
I arrived home that day to queries about the dancing from my family, laughter behind their questions. They saw the dancing from across the street and felt embarrassed for me. Why hadn’t I closed the blinds? Did I know people could see us? Perhaps I should think those things over next time.
They meant well and I’m certain I looked ridiculous from the outside looking in. The sting of that embarrassment, feelings of shame diminishing the honesty of a sincere moment stuck with me. I began to understand the courage it takes to be transparent, to present our hearts, to live authentically in spite of appearances.
Today, I stopped letting that memory inform the moment. So what if the neighbor’s saw us dancing, our joyful movements less than graceful from their view? What if we sang off tune, surrounded by the mess, unabashedly ourselves?
I’ve spent too much of my life concerned about people peering into the window, misinterpreting my thoughts, ideas, beliefs, hopes, and expectations. I want to be independent, thoughtful, even radical, but I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or be misunderstood.
I’ve opened the curtains more recently, drawing up the blinds all of the way. Authenticity, growth, spiritual awakening, revelation, change can only come when I let people see me dance without filters – the beauty, the joy, the awkwardness, the missteps, the new found rhythm, and the stubbed toes.
Tapping my feet, swaying, clapping to the beat, standing as a frustrated wall flower along the wall doesn’t satisfy me anymore. I want to dance through life unabashedly, my heart on my sleeve, my mind open, my ears seeking new music, my feet discovering a joyful rhythm.
I want to dance.