Monday, December 05, 2011


"I dance because I love it. When you're out there, it's like nothing else matters. You forget the math test you did poorly on, or whatever happened at school, and you are fully present in the moment," L reflected during her flex credit presentation, sitting before a long table littered with our high school principal and a panel full of teachers.

Fully present in her moment, I listened to L's illustrative rendition of a summer time intensified dance experience. Gathering with students all over the country, she took classes day and night, pushing her skills beyond her own perceivable limits, all the while learning what it takes to dance professionally. Passion and grace consumed her as she talked about her greatest joy, and it was a pure delight to sit across the table and listen to her speak candidly about something for which she was so madly in love.

Once she skirted out of the room, and the final presentations ceased, I couldn't help but reflect on the moments she described--moments when I, too, have been able to remove everything from my mind so I could dive head first into the precious ticks of the clock, pausing inside each heartbeat, fully conscious of each breath. It doesn't happen often, and I'm not sure if that's because such an awareness would be far too exhausting, or if it is because I don't slow down enough to make it a reality.

Inventorying my own life, I see an array of moments imbedded in the canvas of memory. Individual moments--moments like standing at the World War II Memorial for Barack Obama's inauguration, gazing upon the Ponte Vecchia in Florence, sitting on a rock along the beach in St. Maarten growing certain that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with the man sitting beside me, walking down the isle toward him and dancing our first dance. I've also had a few activities through which I have felt that presence at a regular interval: pitching a softball, publicly performing my poetry and laughing with my husband. While none of that would surprise someone who knew me, I wonder if this is true for everyone.

Do we all have triggers that zap us away from the drone of daily tasks and dump us between the skeletons of time? Do we choose our paths by listening to whatever force holds us stone-still and allows us to be fully aware of our existence as a human being? Should we try to grip time harder, attempting to force the drip rather than the rush of living? Or are we fine just as we are, appreciating those moments when they come without attempting to manufacture them through a forced effort?

I'm not sure, but I do know that those moments of presence are the ones I most remember. They bleed a little brighter in my memory and they are buried a little deeper inside the ventricles of my heart. They are the memories that drive me, inspire me, and direct my course. They are the memories I most want to keep.

When I listened to L speak today, my heart widened with the joy she emanated, and though I sat fifteen feet across the table, when she got up to leave, I felt a bit intoxicated by her over-powering force, by the vapors of her passion. And even if I shouldn't attempt to control the moments that hold me, I'm feeling particularly inspired to have one. Pitching is out of the question on this rainy Monday night, so I think I'll have to sit my husband on the couch, pound out a poem, and giggle until we're both too tired to stay awake.

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