We Dance

We DanceI have an 8 AM appointment. I’m delighted to be outside, walking, breathing the cool fresh morning air, passing others on their way to work, feeling the muscles in my legs, glad for bare feet and sandals.

Later, in the heat of the day, hiding out in the cool shade of our cave with some time to focus, I read about Family Constellations Theory, and am happy not to fall asleep three pages in, which is what happens when I read before bed. Reminders: accept with gratitude the life our parents gave us; accept the particulars that life and those around us have given us, both the good and the bad. When we do this for ourselves, the pain of others in our constellation is mitigated too. This is very hopeful to me.

I have a conversation with my daughter. I am proud of her, and of her brothers, proud that for all the pain our little constellation has carried, we are busy pursuing joy and compassion and forgiveness.

I tear up fresh butter lettuce, and I mince sweet peppers and cucumbers and shallots and radishes for a crisp cold salad. I top it with mango Stilton cheese, and fry up a couple of eggs to go with it. It’s a nice summer supper. Afterwards, we go climb those green, green river valley hills, me and my husband, and I even manage, for the second time this week, to do it without falling and skinning my knee. (I’m going to credit my new runners; I’d had the old ones for about 15 years, and they tell me that’s too long.)

Overnight, a storm brews, though not outside. In the morning, for reasons that only now in retrospect make any sense, I wake up remembering all the other stuff of my life—the not-happy stuff, the betrayals, the very real challenges currently staring me in the face. And when I say I remember them, I don’t mean they are benign little facts in my brain. I mean I remember them, loudly, as if they are, all of them, happening this very second. Yesterday’s sunny skies are gone.

I make some plans—work is, to my mind, the best medicine for most things. There are a few problems with this however, one being that I am at the moment a tad underemployed.

Still, I keep busy, though I remind myself not to rush, that I sometimes break things or hurt myself when I rush. In the evening, I sit outside and feel the breeze, watch the rain, the hail. It is soothing.

I listen to a CBC podcast, and from Daniel Levitin learn that in most of the world’s languages, the word for music and dance are the same—there was no reason to have two. Listening to music, singing and dancing, mirroring another’s movements and vocal sounds—these activities create empathy and bonding. They produce a cocktail of pleasure chemicals, one of them being Oxytocin, the hormone of love, trust, bonding. The neurons in our brains synchronize to music. And they also synchronize us to each other as human beings in the absence of music, when we walk together, or listen to each other, look at each other. We actually begin to converge physiologically within seconds.  Cooperative work brings about deep neurological changes, a sense of purpose, being connected to a larger whole. We are dancing with each other all the time.

This, I decide, is at least part of the reason for the current storm. My work is mostly too isolating.

The new day dawns gray again, literally now. I carry on with my get-through-the-to-do-list approach. But today, I am also meeting a friend for lunch. On my way, deep in thought on a narrow sidewalk, I notice the big yellow school bus nearby, sort of. It has only partially registered. It makes a tight turn, and swings its very long back end into the pole I am standing right next to, barely missing me.

Minutes later, I splash coffee not quite hot enough to scald me on my hands. Over lunch, I have face-to-face conversation. The clouds burst outside the window, and we share my umbrella as we leave. It really is, as my friend said, a lucky day.







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