Sunday, November 9, 2008

Beautiful Imperfection

It's a rainy day in Botown, and I spent a while this morning out on my covered deck with a cup of coffee and NO input....just listening to the rain patter on the metal.

This weekend my bellydance teacher hosted her annual festival called "Hafla" - this year is her 30th. My friend Maureen and I girled up and went to the dance showcase last night. It was scheduled to be 4 hours long, though we left after about 2.5. It was fun. The performers are anywhere from just-past-beginner to women who have danced and performed for years, and that mixture made it even more fun. There were different styles of bellydance, from the quieter traditional dancers who wear full length dresses adorned in sparkling embroidery and layers of veils, to very modern and athletic dancers who combined bellydance with moves that looked a lot like synchronized swimming. Bling everywhere, of course - sequins, coins, beads, jewelry, headpieces, feathers, amazing swirls of colors and metal and sound. It was fabulously raucous, and just what I needed.

I've had this conversation running through my head, on a slow repeat, for the last week or so. It was a talk I had with a friend, someone who is a bit stuck because he can't quite forgive someone in his life for a terrible thing that was done to him. He said "forgiving and forgetting is just a little too easy on her." And I said...well, I don't actually think that forgiving and forgetting is the critical step. It's accepting and moving on that we need to accomplish, letting go of the anger and the "iwishthathadn'thappened" so we can get to the next thing that will come into our lives, and be prepared to accept that gift.

So last night, while I was sitting at the Hafla, I was of course thinking about body image and the beauty of women's bodies, the celebration of fertility and life force that the dancers bring to the stage, knowingly and unconsciously. The movements of bellydance, the joyously high-energy shimmy, the deliberate undulations, the powerful hip snapping turns - they are about life, all the variations. It's part of why the movements feel right, and part of why the form is so addictive. Watching all these women on stage, their imperfections out there for the world to see, framed in fact by bling and shimmying hips and sinuous arm movements....well, a lot of those women have done the magic thing, accepted and moved on. Imperfect, but glorious.

And I found the moment that I need to describe to my friend, to tell him why it's important to accept and move on. It was a tall, elegant, dancer with perfect porcelain white skin and a shimmering costume in white, at least 40 years old, and her bio included this information "...I had let myself be convinced that I could not dance, though I always wanted to. Practicing bellydance showed me otherwise." This dancer, Deborah, had a dance that involved a sword balanced on her head while she shimmied, grapevined, turned, sunk slowly and gracefully to the floor and snaked upward again....and the absolute triumph on her face while that sword stayed on her head, swaying but sticking - that's the reason we accept and move on.

We can't simultaneously serve the past and reach for the future. There was some moment that Deborah stopped listening to the voice in her head saying "you can't dance" and started listening to a voice that said "swords are awesome..." Accepting doesn't mean agreeing, or forgiving - it means we've stopped letting the sting of whatever it is, the pain or hurt or self-doubt of it, shape our days. Put it away - the failure, the injustice, the mistake, the hurtful words we can't stop hearing - and accept that the thing happened or was said and move on. Let it go. We hold on to old hurts, and old tapes, and old...well, stuff. We let it define us, because it's a pain in the ass to question everything all the time, and it's sometimes scary to consider what changes we would need to make if we accepted AND moved on. We choose to be defined by it.

So let go of one of your old hurts, or mistakes, and move on. Imagine all possibilities, and choose one that sings to you. If it is too scary to do that for your whole life TODAY, then do it for today. Find joy in the choosing. Revel in your beautiful perfection of self and reach for something bigger.



Anonymous said...

I've missed your posts. Glad you're back.

Kelly said...

I want a new post! You always inspire me to live a better life. Are you psychic?

Patti Knox said...

You are always so GENEROUS! I miss you guys, dangit. And no, I'm not psychic. If only...I'd win the Lotto and set us all up on some big acreage with guest houses to write the next great volumes of fiction, poetry, essay...analysis. Sigh. But in the meantime, I'll wish all that your way!

xo ~ patti