“They can write whatever they want about dancing, but it is no use: you have to dance to find out what they are talking about. Dance to the point of exhaustion, like mountain-climbers scaling some sacred peak. Dance until, out of breath, our organism can receive oxygen in a way that it is not used to, and this ends up making us lose our identity, our relation with space and time.”
Life is funny. Or rather, God is amazing. I was recently doing some house-cleaning this week when I came across some old books I haven’t seen in awhile, among them written by one of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho. It was The Witch of Portobello, and the beautiful line I quoted at the beginning was lifted from its pages. What was so funny was that since the books I found actually belonged to me, it meant that I have, at some point in my life, already read them. And, given that I was cleaning that day, they were meant to be shelved. But as I picked up the book, I saw the back cover and decided at that point that I was going to re-read it. It said, “How do we find the courage to always be true to ourselves—even if we are unsure of who we are?”. Now I don’t know what you guys think, but judging from my current state of living (mentioned at the end of my previous blog entry), it was as if those lines were screaming directly at me.
And so I read — and it inspired me so much, that it was as if Coelho was seeing through my soul (his words really have that effect, I am not exaggerating). It may have been too long ago that I last read it, or maybe it just didn’t have as much of an effect as reading it right now, when I feel the free-est, but that book ignited a spark, so to speak. Not only did it reaffirm my decision to leave my last job and let life happen, but surprisingly, also affirmed that my life can never be complete without my greatest passion: DANCE. 🙂
I don’t intend for this entry to be a book review, so to summarize: the book is a chronicle of a strong-willed gypsy named Athena, who went on a journey to fill a void in her life, and through her quest discovered the power of music and dance to reach her soul and a higher power. It might sound a bit too mystical for others’ taste, but it tugged at my every heartstring and got me crying towards the end.
“When you dance, you can enjoy the luxury of being you.”
I first started dancing when I was in nursery, for a school event, but my first actual dance training was when I was 7 — classical ballet. I took the classes because there was an after-school program in St.Scho. I saw the pink tutus, the cute ballet shoes, and the little girls who looked like they were having fun while dancing to the music, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. And part of it I became, until I had to stop when I transferred to MaSci for secondary education. Ballet took up time and energy, and I couldn’t afford to give either, what with the demands of my new school. I joined the dance troupe there, and the cheerleading squad during intrams, but time for dance was too few and far in between for me to actually consider that time in my life as a part of my “dance history”. Fast forward to the looming days of college, where I never dreamed I would actually get to dance again — until I saw the UPM Indayog Dance Varsity perform in the Freshmen Orientation. Seeing them onstage I was both in awe and inspired; I knew right then and there that I wanted to be a part of it. I had missed dancing so much and wanted to be a part of the group so badly, that I forgot my fear of failure and auditioned. Luckily, I didn’t blame myself that I’d forgotten; I got in, and danced with those awesome people for some four years of my college life..and counting. 😉
“Of course we can dance alone, if that helps us to get over our shyness. But whenever possible, it is better to dance in a group, because one stimulates the other and this ends up creating a magic space where all are connected in the same energy.”
Dancing with Indayog made U.P. life less agonizing, and more exhilirating. In fact, if I made a list of the things I regret doing or not doing in college, not dancing enough would be at the top of the list (not studying harder would come in close second 😉 ). But regrets aside, Paulo Coelho got it right with that last quote. Dancing is bliss, but dancing with others who share the same passion, love, and awe for it, takes the experience on a whole other level. I was reminded of this through the numerous times I have danced with the varsity, and that feeling never fades away.
In my previous entry I wrote about how I was rediscovering my passions. I chose to include dance as something to be “rediscovered” not only because I took a big break from it after graduation, but also because there is always, always something new to learn, and new people to learn from, in the world of dance. There is no end to the journey of a dancer, and like Athena in the book, dancing is and always will be, a part of me too. 🙂
“Yes, when I dance, I’m a free woman, or rather, a free spirit who can travel through the universe, contemplate the present, divine the future, and be transformed into pure energy. And that gives me enormous pleasure, a joy that always goes far beyond everything I’ve experienced or will experience in my lifetime.”
I wrote at the start that the book ignited a spark, and I wasn’t kidding. There’s this newfound hope and drive in me to figure out my next steps in life, as well as a strengthened will to keep on dancing, whatever happens. It was just the push I needed — I’ve updated my resume, and now looking for writing/teaching jobs, and going to dance training. Dancing might have taken a backseat during some points in my life, but it will never happen again, that I am pretty sure of. Because this time, I will let my passion for it reflect in anything I set out to do. When I dance I am in my element, and as long as I have dancing I can take on anything.
“What do you want? You can’t want to be happy, because that’s too easy and boring. You can’t want only to love, because that’s impossible. You want to justify your life and enjoy it as intensely as possible. This is at once a trap and a source of ecstasy. Try to be alert to that danger, but experience the joy and the adventure of being that woman who is beyond the image of what is reflected in that mirror.”
Reading about Athena’s journey of self-discovery was somewhat of an answer — there are times I doubt myself, or ask myself if I am being selfish that I am pursuing my passions and searching my soul, at an age where I am expected to make mature and career-oriented decisions. Athena proved that life is to be enjoyed, and that letting a higher power lead you is the best decision to ever do in life.
Insights on life, and inspiring words on dance, at a time in my life that I need it the most. And to think that book could’ve just been hidden in my messy room for the next years to come if I didn’t clean my room — a sudden urge which came out of nowhere.
God is truly amazing 🙂
To end one of the lengthier posts I’ve ever written for this blog, I shall share this line from the book when Athena questioned a blacksmith, after he revealed that he actually used to be a biologist. She asked how and why he chose to leave the field for something that provided a significantly lesser wage, and harder labor. This was a part of his answer:
“Well, when you grow tired of being what you’re not, go and have fun and celebrate life, hammering metal into shape. In time, you’ll discover that it will give you more than pleasure, it will give you meaning”….”Start doing what you want to do, and everything else will be revealed to you. Believe that God is a mother and looks after her children and never lets anything bad happen to them. I did that and I survived.”