Get moving! Keep moving! Watching the Olympics has brightened the glow of that important message. Reminding me of the fact that I’ve slowly come to appreciate, namely that vibrancy depends mainly on exploring our range of motion, both inside the dance studio and way beyond.
Part of what makes Olympians so compelling to watch is their constant quest to maximize their range of motion. And when I say “range of motion,” I mean potential for movement–physical, mental and emotional.
Olympians keep spurring themselves on. They assess where they are (with the help of coaches) and they reach beyond that. And because they continue striving, they swim and run faster, jump higher, perform increasingly difficult feats (and then do them back to back), make amazing saves, overcome unspeakable odds….
In other words, these intrepid athletes travel to the outer reaches of their range. They’re heroes. And we want to watch them because they remind us of what’s possible for all of us.
What I notice in all of these dance classes I take is how difficult it is for us human types to keep testing our own uncharted waters. Mobilizing ourselves past the status quo to approach or realize our potential as dancers is largely about examining how fully we can do things-new, bigger, faster, more intensely, more nuanced.
This physical metaphor translates readily and sweepingly into other scenarios. When we’re in business meetings, at parties, in classrooms and even informal conversations, to keep moving forward, folks need the emotional and mental counterparts to the physical resources we count on when we’re dancing.
To be vital, we’ve all got to cultivate flexibility, strength, speed, resourcefulness, endurance, openness, awareness, and wisdom. We’ve got to be the heroes of our own Olympics: Life, baby. Figure out where we are as accurately as we can (maybe with the help of an ally/”coach”), and then challenge ourselves to extend, wisely, beyond that. Aspire. Move it on out to fill our scope of movement.
We can even stretch the previous limits to our range, whether through physical therapy, training, psychotherapy, yoga, meditation or visualization. And plain old, but potently magical, openness. Yes, openness has made me a better dancer in my 50s than I was in my twenties. Funny how even small increments in emotional flexibility can smooth the way to physical facility.
Is all of this easy as pie? Heck, no. Don’t I get how hard it is! It can be challenging under the best of circumstances. Then, as we get older it so often seems to become even more difficult.
There’s the unavoidable toll wear and tear take. Compound this with the cumulative weight of gravity, exhaustion, and disappointments and you can feel dragged down. To make matters tougher, it seems more and more of your contemporaries are holding on tight to the status quo, as ungratifying as it may be. It sure is comfy in the ol’ comfort zone.
Let’s not stay there, though. We can go back and visit. But, truly, the glittering wilds on the outer reaches of our own ranges of motion beckon. Whether it’s trying a new physical activity or upping the ante on your own moves, exploring a new career, moving to a new place to live, or putting on a brand spanking new perspective, these are cool adventures not to be missed.
As magically transformative as this can be for your own life, you’re also acting as an inspiration to others to go for the gold :). Because you’re on an epic quest that you alone can make. And you, too, are a hero.