Tonight I finally had some time to put up my Christmas lights and, after taking the garbage out and walking back up to my little condo I had a weird feeling. I stopped for a second, taking note to observe my balcony with the newly adorned string of LED lights flickering in and out of existence rhythmically like a holiday jingle — it was the end of the year and time for Christmas lights again?
When the hell did that happen?
I had an immediate flashback to putting up my lights last year and it literally felt like a blink of an eye ago. I was right there, in the same spot, looking up at my balcony after taking the garbage out, same cold air stinging my face, same cozy, cheap Walmart slippers on my feet — where the heck did the time go, I wondered. I had felt the surprise of time passing before but never like this — this was probably the first time in my life when I could truly relate to the whole “blink of an eye” thing we all mention in passing conversations with others about life.
A lot happened this year and, if you’ve read any of it here you know it has been a time packed with adventure and life lessons. While it was busy, hectic and had its share of conflict — I am grateful for this year immensely because compared to the previous one it was a vacation. I had the most important thing in the world to me this year — time. Time to explore, time to train, time to adventure, to try new things, to re-discover old things, to create, to clean out, to do nothing.
Time is the ultimate arbiter. We are all equal under its eyes — your hours are not shorter than Bill Gates or Tony Robbins and that is a great reminder about how valuable this limited resource is.
I’ve been fascinated by time this year, reading books, watching interesting videos, talking to my friends about whether it exists and why and so on. It is, and probably always will be, among the most mysterious human questions as to how one moment seamlessly dies into the next. But, when we are truly present to that question and its implications, such as my moment back at the dumpster looking at my crappy Christmas lights, it hits us like a truck as to how fleeting life is, how valuable each moment is and, most importantly, what we are doing with those moments.
The picture on the cover is this post is of my partner, Sonya, and I, performing our funny “Barbie and Ken” dance show for my studio’s 15th anniversary celebration last weekend. This is my last post of the year, and my message to you is to “dance outside the box” of what constrains you because life is, indeed, very short.
My show with Sonya last Friday was a transformational experience as well as a creative one. It started off with trying to figure out a song with a good beat to dance a show to and it evolved into a beautiful message as well as super fun experience. The song, Chained to the Rhythm by Katy Perry, talks about living in today’s system of materialism and illusions, trapped in the box of conformity as well as breaking through those fears and letting your inner light shine. It inspired us to make a show representative of the struggle to balance authenticity with “doing things right” by society, with a guest appearance by my boss’s daughter, Hana, blowing some glitter in our face and “transforming” our doll-dancing into a brief but beautiful bolero before the time ran out and the show was over.
Although Sonya and I have performed many times, this was our first “real” show, at least it felt that way. We had a cosplay artist (thank you Maida) create huge boxes for us to walk out of, shopped for outfits, got wigs from one of my students (thank you Lee) and overall went full out. Coming fresh out of the Ohio Star Ball 40th anniversary celebration and seeing so many authentic performances we got inspired to take our dancing in a different direction and focus on the story. Working with the other 9 students I had for the showcase on the same ideas, telling their story, being authentic, performing to the max — the last few weeks were full of lessons (both metaphorically and on my schedule) that I am very grateful for.
Life is short, dance outside the box. What is the box? In the circus they train fleas to jump the height they want by putting a lid on the jar. At some point the flea decides it cannot escape, so it stops jumping as high, and that’s when they can remove the lid without fear of the flea ever jumping out. If something so primitive can be trained, do you think you are immune?
We all have our boxes and, as is part of life, they are probably never going to leave because life is never short on challenges, fear, considerations, reasons, blockages and negative stories we tell ourselves. But, while the music is playing, you can step out for a moment and share a beautiful story with the world — your story.
Too often we forget to connect to what we are passionate about, to do the things we love and to evaluate why we are doing what we are doing. Life happens and truly what I’ve learned is that a majority of our sickness comes from trauma that isn’t dealt with. Dance and music are more than just social activities, they are healing and therapy. As we enter an age of more technology and separation, these ancient practices that have kept us healthy and happy will be more and more important because one thing for sure will not change — time.
A day today and a day 2000 years ago may be the same length but with more and more things under our belt it is easy to lose an appreciation of the moment, of its temporality, of life’s ever-passing nature and, ultimately, its termination.
Memento Mori — “Remember Death” — is an old saying writers and philosophers would use to remind themselves of what’s truly important. Though we may enter this world through a container and also leave it in one — will you join the music and dance in between?