Home > Snapshots of Me > Dance as a House – A Metaphor for Life

Dance as a House – A Metaphor for Life

Silhouette of DancersEver watched a really good dancer and thought to yourself “I could never do that.”? Or have you ever looked at an exquisite piece of architecture (or a piece of furniture from IKEA) and thought “I could never build that.”?

When I was in the fourth grade my family of five moved in with my grandma, into a two-bedroom house. Naturally, there wasn’t much room for all six of us so plans were made for us to add more rooms onto the house. Due to money constraints the project took nearly two full years to complete. It was a very slow and painful process to say the least. First, our backyard was transformed from a small green orchid to a brownish trash heap. Then one side of our house became like a slice of Swiss cheese. For a long time several walls of our home were made of large thick sheets of clear plastic. We lived in a windy desert, which means extreme temperatures and lots of dirt. Imagine trying to sleep in a 90 or 50 degree room! Also imagine the frustration of perpetual dusting and vacuuming. Not fun. The bright side was that I got to see many of the oft-forgotten elements of a house being put into place. I saw the plumbing, the wiring, the air ducts, and the placement of things like heaters and bathtubs. Our house was not so much a home as much as it was a construction site. It wasn’t until the painting and flooring were complete that it finally began to look and feel like home again. Before that, I and others in my family had numerous moments of “F%$# all this! I’m so done with this stupid house! I don’t even want the extra rooms anymore!”

For the past few weeks I have been taking dance classes. Before moving from California to Texas I had virtually no interest in structured dancing. My second week in town, though, some new friends invited me to go country dancing. I had no clue how to country dance but had nothing better to do so I accepted. I danced exactly one dance and was horrible. That night I mostly just stood and watched as guy after guy walked up to a seemingly random lady, asked her to dance, danced to one song, said thanks, and then repeated the process with a different lady. As I stood on the edge of the dance floor (on the outside looking in, so to speak), I thought to myself “I have to learn how to do that”.

One of my dance instructors told me today that the patterns (also called “steps”) of a dance are like the tools used to build a house. When the house is complete, all you see is the finished product. You don’t see all that went into it. Likewise, with a good dancer, you see the finished (or at least highly refined) product. You don’t see the patterns she’s learned and unlearned, all the partners she’s had, the toes she’s stepped on, etc.

I am still in the early stages of learning to dance in a structured way. For me, for now, I must focus on the patterns. These are my building blocks. To bring it back to my original story, patterns are for me what the plumbing, wiring, and ventilation were for our room addition. Once the room addition was completed, these things were still there, but you didn’t see them or even think about them.

In the past couple of months I have stepped on toes, said “Oops, I’m sorry”, and stopped mid-dance countless times. I’ve also had many moments of “F%$# all this! I’m so done with this stupid dance! I don’t even want to learn it anymore!” You could say that while I am on the dance floor my wires, pipes, and ducts are all showing. I am a bit of a mess, a work in progress.

Our family’s room addition project was eventually completed, years went by, and I all but forgot about the misery we all endured during the renovations. I forgot the clear plastic walls, the gray stuck-o, the raw wood, and the wires. It became just a house, the place I called home.

Someday, I will forget most of the patterns, the toes I’ve stepped on, the partners I’ve tripped, and how ridiculous and frustrated I’ve felt through this whole process. Someday, I will just dance, and someone might stand on the edge of the dance floor and look at me and say “I could never do that.”

“Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” ~Booker T. Washington

“Every noble work is at first impossible.” ~Thomas Carlyle

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