Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Whirling Dervish

Well, I guess it's time for a new update on my blog. Thank you for your prayers on my behalf- I'm sure they helped since the dance instructor for my Jazz class only let out one uncontrollable guffaw during our first lesson yesterday. I know it was me he was looking at. You see, despite the fact that it was the first time the class met, we commenced dancing. In our first class, we not only learned to walk forward, backward, and in a circle (I liked those parts- they were easy), but we also began more complicated steps such stepping and sliding, stepping and spinning, and (my favorite, and evidently my teacher's favorite to watch) walking while vigorously shaking the hips. After his demonstration of the last move, I'm sure the look of panic creeping onto my face was quite comical, and well-founded after attempting the hip-shaking and finding out that I just don't move like that.

As I told my sister after class was over, I have been iridescently white my entire life, and nothing has changed or will change anytime soon. My attempts to walk with some 'tude were reminiscent of the rusty tinman. My step and slide looked like a brotha with a gimp leg. Snapping was a definite no because it distracted me too much from the task of keeping up with which leg was my right leg and which leg was my left. White men's jumping skills are often called into question, but there's no question about the fact that this white girl really can't dance.

My ballet class, however, is going along quite swimmingly. We move slowly, and that is very very good. I love going to ballet, because I get to feel like a princess- all the movements are amazingly regal. I have never been a tomboy, so feelings of royalty are second nature for me. When I was little, I was the kid who always wanted to wear a dress and would "borrow" my brother's action figures so they could have the opportunity to come to my tea party, which I knew that they were dying to do after being locked up in that glass cabinet for so long. The pain that was inflicted when he found out where his figures went to is still unmatched. It was worth it though....

Another thought that has been niggling at the back of my mind recently stems from a technique instruction in my photography book. When discussing the proper way to focus a camera lens, it says, "Focus on the object of interest...." What an appealing thought. Life would be so much simpler if we all consciously set goals and priorities, then kept our life centered on the prize until it was achieved. All too often we are distracted from our greatest potential by frivolities and superficial hang-ups. I have decided that from now on my life will be focused on my goals, and the choices I make will be propelled by my priorities and principles.

So there.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Through the eyes of a Child

How many of us have ever been in a situation where within seconds you have been completely disarmed by the honesty of the child you are with? Recently, I was employed as a Children's ministry intern at a church, and there were many times when this happened to me. But I can recall one story told by a parent that stands out above the rest.

At my church there was a young boy, Jack, who was about 3 years old. Imagine the most charming, adorable, blue- eyed baby boy possible, and you now have the image of Jack. I have never met any other child as sweet and trusting as Jack is. Don't get me wrong, he's not perfect. But he does hold the gift of making your heart melt.

A couple of weeks ago, it came time for the yearly shots. Yes, we all know them. The time of the year when normal children manage to stir up every ounce of strength and adrenaline that they possess and manage to fend off and outsquirm up to half a dozen nurses in fear of the horrid prick of the needle. The things we go through in the name of health.... And if squirming, fighting, pinching, kicking, biting, and licking doesn't work, then they use their ultimate tool given to them by God at way too young of an age- the scream that would even bring a banshee to tears.

Well, for Jack, there was none of the above described hoo-rah. Instead, his experience was quite the opposite. On the way to the clinic, he was a chipper, excited little fellow, chatting with his mom about whatever crossed his happy little mind- cars, birds, trees, Spider Man, quantum theory, etc. Once they got there and made it into the doctor's office, Jack made himself at home on the examination table, making easy conversation with the nurse in the manner of a true politician, with full confidence and bright-eyed trust. The nurse, of course, chatted along with Jack as she prepared the ominous syringe for his chubby little leg. After about five minutes, she was ready to give him the shot, and Jack was still happily jawing away about new toys or what have you. The nurse made a passing comment about how calm her unsuspecting little victim was, then proceeded to stick him with the needle after a mumbled warning about him feeling a slight prick.

Jack's face went from a look of happy, complete trust, to a look of shocked betrayal. This expression was quickly followed by narrowed eyes of suspicion and angry silence toward the nurse, who had finished the injection and was unsuccessfully trying to re-establish their friendship. Jack was finally persuaded by his mother to take a bright red sucker for being so "brave", but on their way out, as the nurse waved good-bye, he gave her one last vindictive look and said to his mother with an accusing tone and pointing finger, "Mommy, that's the lady who SHOT me!"

If we could only recapture the trust inherent in childhood, the world would be our oyster. Imagine the last time you were completely honest with someone. Remember the power that gave you? Honesty is honestly disarming.

Dirty Dancin'

Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but for me, this summer has turned out to be very enlightening. I learned a lot of things. I made some interesting discoveries, and some interesting friends as well. I also found out some things about myself-

I can't dance.

I know it sounds strange for a 21 year old to say that they had only just discovered that they can't dance, but it's the honest-to-goodness truth. But there's a good reason for not having learned this about myself sooner: I've never really tried before. On occasion I've been pulled or pushed against my will onto a dance floor, but I felt like I winged it pretty well. Maybe no one noticed how awkward I was. I know the guys that were there didn't. They were far too busy covering up their own awkwardness. I would know.

But for the first time this summer, I tried to dance for real. And found out that I can't. Amidst the hysterical laughter of all the people surrounding me, I realized that in my sad attempt to get jiggy with it, I only succeeded in pulling off the image, grace, and ambience of a muppet. That's right- a muppet. With arms disjointedly flailing around, I resembled Elmo's happy dance.

I'll be taking a dance class this fall. They may move me from Jazz to Comedic Dance against my will.

Pray for me.