"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Sunday, October 31, 2004
Dancing in the Spotlight
masque Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French masque -- more at MASK
1 : MASQUERADE
2 : a short allegorical dramatic entertainment of the 16th and 17th centuries performed by masked actors
3 : my life, sometimes
I can remember a time, long ago, when I could take the deep breath of calm confidence.
I looked at the world around me as an exciting challenge, and I was fascinated by its constant change, addicted to immersing myself in its hidden wonders. Life was good, it was wholesome, I slept soundly each night.
At least, that's how I remember it. I do think there truly was a moment in time like that one, and I lived in it.
I lived in it. I was the hero. I was the good cowboy. I was the astronaut.
Now, though, for so long, things have not been so pure and life has been sometimes so great a challenge that it threatens to overwhelm me.
I am no longer hero, cowboy, astronaut. No, I feel as if I am no more than an actor trapped on a stage, forced to perform a play without a script, pinned under the garish glare of the stage lights. In their heat, I sweat, and even though I try with every single fiber of my being, it's never enough.
It's never enough. I dance, I say the lines I am supposed to say, I play the part of the hero, cowboy, astronaut. But like an old threadbare pair of socks, I am wearing thin and I deeply fear that the real me is showing through.
We all put faces on when we start our days. So I do this as well. The mask fits badly now, and all the old roles feel uncomfortable, like someone else's shoes. I want to abandon the mask, to clear all the paint and prosthetics, to rise like some sort of modern day phoenix from their wreckage. I want nothing more nor less than to be me.
I want nothing more nor less than to be me. Yet, I have a terrible fear that, once the mask falls, what is left will be worthless, horrid, repulsive.
What if there isn't really a hero, cowboy or astronaut in there?
What if I cannot measure up to my own expectations of who I should be? What if I am inadequate for the needs and desires of my wife and family? Do I dare do this?
Or do I clasp the mask with all my strength, staggering through the same old dance every day, hoping against hope to keep getting the steps right?
And I don't know what for.
Years ago, I used to frequent a night club in Greenville SC that had a Broadway musical style show each night. There was one girl in the show that was an incredible dancer, just like a little China doll on a music box. Yet, if you looked into her eyes, they were empty. Her body was there, her body danced, her dance was perfect in every way, but she wasn't there at all.
I am beginning to feel that way. And it frightens me.
I am disconnected.
Dance pretty dancer
Dance and turn for us all
Don't let us know that the way that you're moving
Is not what you feel at all...
Dance in the spotlight
Dance with both eyes trained on empty space
In dance is your healing,
It heals all the wounds that time can't erase
Cliff Hursey, excerpt from the song "Dancer", 1980