It’s 12:30 a.m. and I’m completely revved. Even though my intense, rockin’ dance class with powerhouse Kellie Lynch ended five hours ago. Even though my body is completely exhausted, wrung out.
I’m still jazzed despite the fact that since class roared to a finish, I’ve driven the long ride home, eaten dinner, done a couple of loads of laundry, taken a jacuzzi, talked with family members near and far, and written 2 other posts. Sleep, anyone?
The funny thing is I almost didn’t go tonight. Feared I didn’t have the energy. Just as I resisted going to rehearsal yesterday. Oh, and similar to why I’ve hesitated, second-guessed, fought, wrestled and negotiated with myself on so many days when I’ve planned to dance.
Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE dancing. It just takes so much to keep it up–the energy, especially in your 50s, the kinesthetic capacity, the long drives alone, the mental preparation. And then there’s the old self-sabotage…. So, right, I really almost didn’t go this time.
But, I did make the 60- minute, rush hour trek. And, surprise surprise. Although I’d bargained with myself that I’d give myself a break if needed, just do things halfway, maybe sit out and watch, I actually went full throttle. Drenched in sweat, gut-busted, breathless.
What would have seemed an utter impossibility before class became the inescapable conclusion. I.e., my lifelong passion for dancing took over and fueled the whole flight–with a major assist by the inimitable dynamo Kellie and the other beautiful dancers. Amazing. And not for the first time, not even for the 100th.
Same story at last night’s rehearsal and last week’s faraway classes. You think you don’t even have the energy for 10 minutes of all out dancing. But, baby, you turn the music on, get the body moving, and you’re entranced. You have more energy than you’ve had all day. You’re riding high.
I’ve been calling it passion or enchantment. Then when I started reading the masterwork, “Flow,” a few weeks ago, I found someone else’s spot-on description of these luminous experiences. The brilliant researcher and writer Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls them “flow” or optimal experience.
When I read this vivid passage, I recognized the familiar shimmery experience I have when dancing, bodysurfing, sailing, cooking, writing, eating good food 🙂 and more:
“…’optimal experience’…is what the sailor holding a tight course feels when the wind whips through her hair, when the boat lunges through the waves like a colt–sails, hull, wind and sea humming a harmony that vibrates in the sailor’s veins. It is what a painter feels when the colors on the canvas begin to set up a magnetic tension with each other, and a new ‘thing,’ a living form, takes shape in front of the astonished creator….
Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times…The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile….” Right on.
Csikszentmihalyi articulates perfectly what happened for me tonight. Of course, there was the euphoria and the meditative falling away of everything else except the dancing. But also, the enormous challenge and even frustration of expanding, pushing your limits. Which reminds me of why I so often describe my dancing as thrilling AND infuriating.
It explains why my major experience in class was a glow. So that even though I messed up a lot, didn’t keep up at times, clunked, fell, and just plain didn’t get things, I was transported.
One moment, you’re bent over sucking wind, muscles aquiver, awaiting your turn to move across the floor. The next minute, you willingly, eagerly sink your teeth into the gorgeous movement, find breath and energy from heaven knows where, and you fly. I call that magic. What’s yours?