Dance, Experiences, Gratitude, Introspection, Learnings, Life, Memories, Milestones, N40

Me, myself and my dance

Life beckons and I have to heed to it. Yet, I linger, wanting to soak in the sudden emptiness that I am feeling. For the past six months, dance has ranked high in my list of priorities. For the past six weeks, dance has been the center of my life. The critic in me chides me for not doing more, for not trying harder, for not making the most of the opportunity.  Yet, the pragmatic in me acknowledges that while there is always room to do more and be better, I did the best I could on any given day. Some days my best was good enough and on other days it was not.  And that’s part of being a human.

I have given my bare minimum to my family for the past several months. Dance is to me what sports is to Hari. In that we share a connection. A connection that is born out of setting your heart at something, working on it, feeling jubilant on some days, feeling disappointed on other days, and knowing that true strength lies in picking ourselves up every time we fall. Hari has shielded me with his pep talks, “Just imagine Ram and I waving at you amma if you get the jitters.”  He has held down the fort stepping up to be there for his little brother in my absence. And Ram what can I say about this little one, our very own Krishna? Dance has given us the gift of new bonding experience. I just love to sing “Avani rohini ashtami yele aradhajama nerathile avadharithaya” as I give a cheek rub to him, a rush of love washing over me. Da has been the pillar of support I have leaned on. Where do I even begin? Suffice to say that he walked the talk and did so wholeheartedly, doing all the heavy lifting, and making sure that the kids do not get shortchanged. I don’t think I would have been as unwavering in my support for him if I were in his shoes, so not for a second I take his support for granted. I am especially thankful to him for nailing the big picture in my head – it’s rare to get an opportunity to do something like this, outside of the commitments that life thrusts on us, at this stage of our lives and I should remember to derive positive energy from it and not get distracted with the noises. 

Over the past six weeks my dance mates and I have spent close to 30 hours per week in dance practices. I would love to say that all that time was spent dancing, but that’s not how it works. You wait a lot, then you practice some. Going after your passion may sound like pure bliss and all lofty. But the truth is even for pursuits of your choice, they come with their share of baggage. We were preparing for a 3-day dance event, one that we knew was going to be a labor of love. Taking care of the practical aspects was the easier part. It was the emotional part that involved a ton of hard work. To stay focused, to push oneself harder, to not get lost in the stories we tell ourselves, and to practice self compassion.

Some days were more challenging than others and a little TLC went a long way in building that resilience muscle. One of the best parts about the dance camp was the support group we developed and the plethora of opportunities we had to get to know each other as individuals. We rooted, helped, inspired, provided constructive feedback, showed appreciation, and hugged each other. On the day of the performance, we complimented each other on how we looked. I think it had less to do with makeup and costumes and more to do with how fond we had grown of each other. They say friends come into our lives for a reason, season or a lifetime. Only time will tell what path our friendships will take. One thing is for certain; the summer of this year will go down in the books of our lives as a time that weaved us all together in a shared experience, and from knowing  that we all gave it our all no matter what else was going in our lives.

I feel immensely thankful to my teacher for her bold vision and audacious dreams for her milestone production, and getting all of us pumped up about it. I am deeply grateful she introduced us to one of the finest teachers and choreographers, who we fondly address as Thiru anna. One who believes that everyone is capable, that imperfections are part of being a human, and that mistakes are ok but to remember to never lose the happiness one derives from dancing. It was a blessing to be part of anna’s creative process and seeing first hand how even a small act can be elevated to a higher level with willingness, creativity and effort. Such a precious and rewarding experience. 

If you had asked me last week, I would have told you that I can’t wait for this week to come. What I expected to feel was relief at being able to move on with other aspects of my life. What I am feeling instead is an emptiness that comes from having to let go something that gave an intense sense of purpose and pushed us beyond our comfort zones. I don’t want this emptiness to end, so I prolong. Checking whatsapp messages, refreshing facebook page, and going through the motions of the past six weeks, and itching to do more. 

Dance means different things to different people. To me, bharathanatyam is my Zen. It helps me discover more about myself,  be accepting of my strengths and weaknesses, quench my thirst to learn and grow as a person.  And for that I am eternally grateful and incredibly blessed. 

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Sharing Your World

How do you like to spend a rainy day? At home, with the family, doing our own thing. That quiet presence and space in togetherness is what I would like on a rainy day.

List at least five favorite treats. (They do not have to be sugary). Theratipal, an early morning walk on a gloomy spring day, the Happier podcast, a movie with the brood at home while eating a take out, and a Jodi Picoult book.

Where’s your favorite place to take out-of-town guests? My picturesque neighborhood and the quaint town, the center park that is teeming with life when the New England weather permits. Walden pond is also one of my favorite places to take out-of-towners – proximity to nature and home, a trip that would leave your refreshed rather than fatigued from doing touristy things.

If you are trapped in an elevator, who would you want to be trapped with? My initial thought was Da. He is fairly hands and may be we will somehow fix the elevator. If not, if it is going to be my last few hours, I would rather spend it with someone who means the world to me and with whom I have had the time of my life . Then it occurred to me, poor thing, why drag the guy down with me?  So I thought I would just go solo on this one. That is , till I saw Cee’s response – be trapped with a guy who can fix the elevator. Now that’s some sensible thinking I say and I am shamelessly copying it.

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? Grateful that it was a short and light work week. Grateful that we survived another intense week. However, I will confess that I went around as though (borrowing one of my favorite sermons of Da) the universe owes me a favor… you know walking around with that sense of entitlement. I cringe at that attitude and I am looking forward to correcting it, focusing on my efforts, giving it my all, and staying focused this week.

Have a good rest of the week. 

Thanks Cee for the questions.

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Sharing Your World

Here’s this week’s dose of Cee’s questions

For your main meal do you prefer sweet and sour, hot and spicy, spicy and sweet, bitter, salty, bland or other? I love food that have contrasting flavors. Blueberry bagel with veggie lite cream cheese, medium spicy bhel, tamarind rice with sweet pongal on the side… Medium spicy is my flavor preference. I can also eat bland food as long as I have some flavorful side to go with it.

Where do you hide junk when people come over? Hmmm… never thought of it as hiding but I guess dumping can be called as hiding, in which case it would be the bedroom closet. Although I think my approach is to use the visit as an opportunity to get some cleaning done rather than shoving them in the closet. Not a big fan of band-aid solutions.

What daily habit would you like to introduce to your life? So so many… my exercising and meditating habits have evaporated into thin air. I would like to bring them back in my life after my dance productions. I also want to get into the habit of daily reading.

If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do? Honestly, no idea! The very idea makes me squirm. 

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? Grateful for opportunities – for me to learn dance from the finest teachers, for Hari to be able to participate in an inter-state cricket tournament. Grateful that Da took the kids to the neighboring state for the tournament so I can focus on things on my plate. Looking forward to being focused and productive this week.

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