From all the tweeting and all the talk and all the writing, you may have known about a certain fundraiser on May the 4th. I agreed, about a year ago, at the coaxing of several past contestants that I would compete. We would all compete and go toe-to-toe, as it were, in the dance fundraising arena. The gauntlet was thrown. I like to raise money. I love to raise money for Miller Rothlein. Their creative work is superlative. Their educational mission is active and is unified with their creative work. Superlative. As a board member, you cannot ask for more. A mission that you can explain and that is evident in the daily operations of the company.
As the competition drew nearer, I found myself thinking of my performance–after all, I was expected to DANCE. I started thinking about all the ways to have fun with this: the theme, the music, style of dance…the options, the options! The event was going to be Star Wars themed since it fell on (unofficial) Star Wars day, May the Fourth. What did I want to do? DISCO. When I was in the single digits, I had the 45 (rpm) recording of the Theme from Star Wars performed as a disco. It was awesome.
Costume? Han Solo. Partner? Princess Leia. It was all coming together. My dance partner, a professional from NYC who dances regularly with Miller Rothlein, was excited and was having fun with the theme as well. We had a great time working with our choreographer Scott Lazarov–this guy is the real deal. I was excited. It was coming together. My daughter was excited. She came to a rehearsal and liked our routine. She asked if I was going to win the competition. Four year olds love competition.
Dadaí, what are the prizes?
There are three.
Are you going to win them all?
The triple-crown? I hadn’t consider it.
Yeah. The triple crown.
As the evening of the event drew nearer, I found myself thinking of…myself. Doubts. Fears. Questioning. After years of thinking outside of myself–projecting as far as I could about the company–my world was shrinking. Who would be there? Some of my students would be there. Would I embarrass myself? Am I the fool? Would colleagues see the video? Would it be passed around with whispers and laughs?
Is that a problem?
I was not concerned about my ability to perform the routine but what someone might say. These are not the types of things that occupy my mind. If you asked someone if these are the kinds of things I spend time considering, they would laugh. Not me.
“He doesn’t care about what people think about him.”
But now. I was dual-minded. Juggling my confidence and my terror. Not thinking about my usual things–family, friends, fun, education, loves of my life…
I am a deliberate. Thoughtful. A pragmatist.
My daughter needs to know.
My students need to know.
I need to know.
When I came to my senses, I remembered that the answer to it all is that same excellent answer that I gave those students years ago. Aaron Copland gave it as the best reason to listen to music. Most of humanity acknowledge it as the best reason to do just about anything.
Because you like it.
But there is more. And I do not write this as some kind of prophet, savior, example, or anything of significance. I am not going to shake the foundations of the world with this. I have to recognize the patterns. Not those that would come from my dancing. But from the empty space that would exist if I chose not to. Way to go, Bartleby.
You see, dancing was going to be normal. It is what people do when they are happy, confident, and loving life. It is what we do in the car on the way to school and how we choose to express our every bit of emotion and connectedness. It is how we ARE. Every gesture, every movement choice, every facial expression betrays our true mind. It is beautiful.
Choosing not to dance. Choosing to sit on the sidelines. This time. Would make the statement. Undermining. Relegating that expression to private areas. Telling my daughter, my students, my friends that there was something wrong. There was a time and a place but not here. Not now. Not me. Not you.
I was talking to friends last week about pitches. Pitches that you may and may not hear as an adult–remember the mosquito? The trick to “hearing” these pitches is that when they are present, you may not hear the pitch but you will notice the negative audio space. It is as if a color has been removed from a painting. Those in the industry will understand that it is as if “air” had been removed from the audible range. THAT is what I was risking. The cavalier creation of negative space. Boink.
Look. I’m nobody. My life is going to have no bearing on so many people.
For some, believe it or not, I am defining boundaries. Sounds big, I know. But I could not help but consider the influence that could be had on those I love and those I do influence.
My daughter, my wife, and all of my family.
My students, co-workers, and acquaintances.
NOT those who would question or mock
but those who would hear that discussion.
Dancing is fun. We had a blast.
My daughter told me I was great. Score.