The micro manager of movement, aka Raul, is at it again. “Move your ass,” he says as I do a basic three count Hustle step which goes like this: And one, with Latin hips, right leg moves back, left leg bears my weight, right heal up; two, pivot; three, right foot forward in alignment with my back foot as if I’m on a balance beam. All of this happens in a matter of seconds while planting my foot in anticipation for the next move, I think, I did it perfectly this time, when I hear, “You’re like a Ferrari without your engine on.”
Did Raul just call me a Ferrari?
Slightly distracted, I picture a shiny red, GTO in my mind as we continue to dance and I repeat the basic again and again. Done correctly, this motion is supposed to propel me forward. The challenge is that I have an old habit of relying on the strength in my arms to pull me forward rather than relying on my engine, my legs. This forces whoever I’m partnered with to use more force which, according to Raul is “annoying”.
I agree. It doesn’t feel good to dance with so much resistance. The thing is, I didn’t know I was creating that dynamic. I repeat the basic again and again and I think, I did it perfectly this time. But the micro-manager says, “I don’t want to drag your ass.” Stepping aside, he gives me room and says “You do it!”
For a split second I think, “I’m paying for this?” But then his words hit me, “You do it!” And, I realize I’ve been a good follower all of my life. First as a daughter, a little sister, then as a wife, a nurse, and for over thirty years of being a mother. It’s not that I was passive in those roles but being in those roles mapped my day-to-day existence: wake kids, feed kids, housework, then work the 3-11 shift. Pick up, drop off, help with homework, grocery run, prescription refills, medications and endless doctor’s appointments drove my every move.
This is the moment when I realize what this dance experience is all about. All the tears, the feeling like I’m not connected to my body, the longing to make a difference in the world and the insatiable curiosity driving me through what sometimes feels like midlife madness.
At this point in my life, it’s unnerving to not know the next move. Unlike the days of parenting or working as an acute care nurse, the events that fill my day to day existence now aren’t nearly as obvious. Yes, sixteen-year-old Jacob is still at home and he requires some of my time but truthfully he’s an independent dude. He does his own laundry, gets rides from friends, and cooks up a mean quesadilla when he’s hungry. I’m really glad about all of that.
But in the longing to know where I’m going I fall into the habit of looking to others for direction. Midlife has slowed to a pace affording me time to pay attention to my inner guidance for the next step. It’s in the quiet that I’m realizing what it feels like to stand on my own two feet. I have room to explore what I want my next move to be. Readying myself for that move is where the work is. Solidly trusting my inner “knowings” requires a vigilant fine tuned spiritual practice in order to be sensitive to life’s delicate lead. This whole dance thing is about becoming a more powerful leader in my own life. Which brings me to the present.
With five minutes remaining in the days lesson. Hustle music playing. Stepping, spinning, grooving. The micro-manager says, “No! You’re talented so your used to getting away with shit. You’re too cool for that.” This time I ignite the power in my legs, and the precision placement of my feet. I hear, “I believe in you.” Like turning a key, I feel lighter, stronger and more centered. I do it again and again, inside turn, outside turn, shadow, Vegas the moves come with more finesse than force. For the first time I’m following with my engine turned on and I’m ready for his lead.
“Now, we’re getting somewhere,” Raul stands back and nods.
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