I started to write about the amazing fuel that passion constitutes, inspired both by a movie we just watched and my recent dance experience. I realized that there at least two posts in all of this.
When I moseyed through my archives to avoid repetition, I found this post from two years ago. It says, with a few tweaks, what I’d still like to convey:
It’s 12:30 a.m. and I’m completely revved. Even though my intense, rockin’ dance class with powerhouse teacher K 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 another post. Sleep, anyone?
The funny thing is I almost didn’t go tonight. Feared I didn’t have the energy. Just as I’ve hesitated, second-guessed, 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, the kinesthetic capacity, the long drives alone, the mental preparation. And then there’s the old self-sabotage….
But, I did make the 60- minute, rush hour trek. And surprise, surprise. Although I’d bargained with myself that I’d just to 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: my lifelong passion for dancing took over and fueled the whole flight–with a major assist by the dynamo of a teacher and the other beautiful dancers. Amazing.
Same story at last night’s rehearsal and last week’s faraway classes…. You think you don’t have the energy for even 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 another spot-on description of these luminous moments. The brilliant researcher and writer Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls them “flow” or optimal experience.
When I read this vivid passage from the book, I recognized the familiar shimmery experience I have when dancing, bodysurfing, sailing, cooking, writing. The endeavor could be anything, but the
“…’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….”
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 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, fell behind at times, clunked, and just plain didn’t get things, I was transported.
One moment, you’re bent over sucking wind, muscles aquiver, wondering how you’ll ever move across the floor for your turn. 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?