Shall we dance?
Life is a dance!
Neil Diamond sings: I’ve been up, I’ve been down; I’ve been so turned around; I’ve been high, I’ve been low; and then he sings: turn down the lights, turn up the music.
The music. It’s the rhythm to our dance in life. It dictates the beat, forces us to keep moving. We use our senses to pick up the beat – we see, we hear, we feel.
The Phantom, in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s phantom of the opera sings: Feeling is believing, music is deceiving, dare you trust the music of the night?
It takes a lot more effort to keep up- the steps changes regularly, and the pace is fast. But there’s no rhythm. The dance is transformed into robotic movement.
With the music from within we seem to pick up the beat, and because we know the tune we are able to keep a rhythm. Our movements are smooth and we know all the steps. It makes sense.
And then, something happens, and this something causes the music to fade or stop. And the dance comes to an abrupt end. Illness, the loss of a job, financial insecurity, problems in a relationship, the loss of a loved one- they have two things in common: they dim the sound of the music, and they pull the rug right out from underneath your feet.
To not be able to hear the music, let alone pick up the beat, makes it very difficult to carry on dancing. With a heavy heart, a tired head and your feet numb you will feel, yes feel that you don’t want to dance anymore. Did the music fail you? You will lose your confidence in your choice or source of music. Maybe your senses failed you – they picked up the wrong tune. It doesn't make sense anymore.
If we can’t trust our music source, should we find another? We end up running in all directions, looking for backups – other sources. Or, if we can’t trust our senses, maybe we should numb them, silence them – so that we don’t have to see, hear and feel the truth.
But can we not dance? Never! The dance continues. By grace the dance continues, even though it often seems merciless, almost a cruel reality that the dance must go on.
How does one carry on dancing when the music, the music inside, has stopped?
Nicole Krauss, in her book The History of Love, tells of Leo Gursky, an 80-year-old retired locksmith who used to be a writer, in New York, a lonely survivor of a Nazi massacre. After receiving the message of the death of his writer son, Isaac Moritz, whom he never got to know, he takes a bath, puts on his suit and pours himself a few drinks. Then he starts to dance. Leo wrote: “Slowly at first. But getting faster. I stomped my feet and kicked my legs, joints cracking. I pounded my feet and crouched and kicked in the dance my father danced, and his father, tears sliding down my face as I laughed and sang, danced and danced, until my feet were raw and there was blood under my toenail, I danced the only way I knew how to dance: for life, crashing into the chairs, and spinning until I fell, so that I could get up again and dance again, until the dawn broke and found me prostrate on the floor, so close to death that I could spit into it”.
When the music stops, there is silence. Silence that in a way is louder than anything you have ever heard.
Be still. Think.
Think back. Try to remember the tune – because there was a tune, however long ago. And start humming. Until you pick up a part of the tune or the beat you knew long ago. Tap your feet. That’s how it starts. With or without music. Even if you’re a little out of step or off the beat. For you see, when you’re trying to dance without a beat or a tune, the right steps and keeping up with the beat don’t seem to matter that much. Being on your feet is what counts.
If I can get back to my friend Neil Diamond: In another song he sings: Don’t look down or you’re gonna fall, things are gonna get easier; don’t look down you’re getting there; you’re doing fine you’re making it; fix both your eyes and concentrate, step at a time you’re taking it; don’t look down.
When the music fades and you battle to pick up a beat, when it doesn’t make sense, look up, away from the storm around you. Then get up, and dance. You might have to learn new steps. Even change your pace or your style. But dance. Dance to the music of life. Dare you trust the music of the night? Dance through the night, into the new day. Do the dance of life and put the life back into the dance.
Shall we dance?