Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings. John Muir
The music was revving up, the strobe lights beginning to swirl like spinning planets in the Holiday Inn’s ceilinged sky and we were having to shout over a song with a strong beat as we talked, the matron of honor and I. I was admiring her strapless purple dress, her bouquet of orange daisies, praising the heartfelt toast she had given so bravely and tearfully for her sister and new brother-in-law. And that’s when she appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, a little elfkin wisp of a thing squeezing herself between the sister-of-the-bride and me and looking way up above the purple strapless gown to the beautiful friendly face and asking her question. “Will you dance with me?!?” It wasn’t quite a request; it was more of a plea. She was jumping up and down as she spoke to the matron of honor. She couldn’t help herself. She was feeling the music, sensing that the dancing was about to begin and she just had to be a part of it. We learned her name was Emma and she was four years old and she had been searching them out, all of the beautiful young women in the purple dresses, beckoning them out onto the dance floor with her enthusiasm. And her enthusiasm was contagious. I could feel it too, the beat of the music, the planets swirling in space, the dance that my body just couldn’t contain. I began to hop along with Emma! “Can a grandma dance with you too?” I asked. And she didn’t even need to speak a reply. Her body answered for her. “Of course!!!” her body was saying as she hopped with more vigor. “Why wouldn’t we all want to dance?!?”
Indeed, why wouldn’t we all want to dance?!? Why wouldn’t we all want to feel this alive?!? I know the feeling, the “hopping up and down, can’t stay still because life feels so good” feeling — and it doesn’t require swirling lights and loud music and the heightened mood of a wedding reception. It’s always there for us, this pulsating dancing swirling energy. I feel it when I walk in the woods on a crisp day in mid-October and the path is a carpet of yellow leaves and the air smells like balsam and I can almost taste the snow that will be coming soon. I feel it when I step back in the house again and our cat brushes against my leg and my husband is chopping peppers for the corn tortillas that he knows I can’t resist and the air feels warm and inviting. I feel it in quiet ways in which the dancing is an inward symphony at the cellular level and, at other times, I feel it sweep over me with the fervor of a Springsteen concert.
I had my own Emma-like moment, my own Springsteen locomotive body-charging whoosh of forward motion earlier in that same wedding reception. I was sitting there, all refined and gussied up in my black knit dress and coral shrug, sipping lemon water and snacking on cheese and crackers while talking to the brides’ aunt and second cousin. I’m sure I began the conversation with my voice at a normal wedding octave, my legs appropriately crossed, my knowledge of taking-turns-etiquette intact. And it stayed that way, level-headed and demure, until we started talking about our passions, our projects, and that’s when a fire started burning and my cells started rocking and I couldn’t hold it in, this voice of my mine that rises easy into a bellow. Projects?!? You betcha!!!! “I’ve got a good one!” I exclaimed. And I proceeded to plow ahead with little regard for whether my audience was on board or not, sharing the wild ride I’ve been on these past months as I play with the living and the dead on this Grandpa Project of mine. Granted, the synchronicities are many, the side roads colorful, the subject matter captivating — at least to me, that is. When I realized that I was shouting, that my legs were no longer crossed, that my arms were flailing, that I might have been spitting and that I sounded a lot like my father when he used to talk about his father, the artist, and God knows that my father’s enthusiasm used to be an embarrassment to me — that’s when I pulled myself in, re-crossed my legs, let go of the stronghold that I’d claimed on this one-sided conversation. Oh my goodness, I thought, it is a strong energy that can rush through us when we allow it.
And Emma, she didn’t pull herself in, didn’t even try to cross her legs or keep her arms from flailing. She let it flow, took it right out onto that dance floor and spun around and hopped up and down and swung herself hand in hand with each one of those bridesmaids in their purple gowns. She shined as brightly as the sparkles on her dress and it was a sight to behold, witnessing someone lit up like that. So what do we do when we find ourselves blazing with an inner fire, bursting with an energy that is begging expression? Do we reign it in for fear of overwhelming those around us? Do we dampen it down because it just might be too much? Do we think that hopping is reserved for the pre-school crowd? And that passion flames bright only for those who are young enough to be a part of the wedding party? Pshaw, I say. Energy is ageless, I say. It is free and available to the masses, to all of us, pre-schoolers and grandmas alike. It is in the air we breathe, in the water we drink, the food we eat. It is in the autumn trees that set our hearts a’flutter and in those dark billowy clouds and in the sun peeking through. And it is up to each of us to soak it in, to enjoy its benefits, to find out what is lighting our fire and to allow that inner blaze to burn bright.