Dancing Solo

My boyfriend is a dancer like me. He is the one who first taught me how to dance Salsa. We’ve been in a relationship for over nine years and even live together. That said. Most of the time I go out dancing, I go alone.

In an ideal world it wouldn’t be this way, right? Then again, maybe I’m wrong? Perhaps, things are exactly the way they should be, and the universe in its infinite wisdom knows what’s best for me. It happens quite often.

Why doesn’t he go out with me? I’ve been asked this more than a few times, and have even been accused by several men that my boyfriend is made up, a convenient excuse for turning down their advances.

The truth is simple. He doesn’t want to. He’s living his dream of growing his own business, and he wants to put his energy into making it a success. I can respect that. It makes him who he is, and he respects that I’m not going to stop dancing.

How do I feel about going out dancing alone? Do I sometimes feel lonely? Yes, of course, I do. Often, I wish he were with me. I look at other women with their boyfriends and long for their security. When I go out with my boyfriend, I am one hundred percent certain I will know at least one person at the club and will undoubtedly dance the night away. Who wouldn’t want that?

But the more interesting question is how much have I gained by flying solo more nights than not throughout the last nine years? Such experiences have literally shaped the way I view myself.

I have a profound sense of faith. I know that when I venture out alone everything will be provided: friendly faces, dance partners, learning opportunities, and laughter. Even when I’ve traveled to a dance workshop in a different city hours away, I’ve never driven home empty-handed. The universe always delivers sweet memories that enrich my life.

I trust myself to go after what I want, even if it means braving the unknown on my own. I’ve done it so many times now. The reward is that I’ve accepted happiness is my responsibility and dependent on no one else.

Over the years, I’ve collected many wonderful experiences that would have never happened if I had waited for my boyfriend to go with me. Or worse yet, I could have spent the last nine years nagging him, giving away my power and energy to someone else, who would eventually resent me for trying to make him into someone he’s not. Who would do that?

I’m sharing this, because I think a lot of women do just that. I’ve done this countless times myself in the past in different scenarios.

I always find it funny (and odd) when a man asks me why I am out dancing alone, especially when the gentlemen himself is flying solo. In fact, most of the men I see entering the clubs walk through the doors alone. Why is it strange for a woman and not a man? I think its because men have been taught to feel comfortable in their independence and women (in general, not all) have not.

Guess who’s getting more out of life?

Think about that, and then get out there. Do whatever you’ve been dreaming about, even if you have to do it alone. I’ll be with you in spirit. You know, that little voice in your head saying, “Life is too short! Just try it already!”

The Game Maker

It is said that creation is a two-way street. As an artist creates the artwork, the artwork creates the artist. I think that is why many of us love stories. Hidden in the conflict of every fairytale is the story of a writer wrestling with real life. Sometimes, it is easier to find an answer in a make believe world. Sometimes, it is the story that saves you.

And so, I’ve created the tale of “The Game Maker.” I hope you enjoy it.

“How can I get her to find the Golden Castle if she’s stuck in the Temple of Gloom!” The Game Maker shakes his head and takes a deep breath.

“There has to be a way! Something I haven’t tried yet,” he rubs his face and bald head with his hands, a nervous tick. The doorbell rings and breaks him away from his thoughts. Oh, it must be the pizza guy.

He gets up from his computer chair. His legs are stiff from sitting so long. Slowly, he makes his way to the door and opens it.

“How’s it going, Mr. Comp-Man?” It’s Barry, the pizza guy. The twenty-something old pizza deliveryman that visits his house too often. How many times has he ordered pizza this week? So many times that Barry has given him a nickname, “The Comp-Man.”

“Are you working on a new game?” Barry asks as he hands him his pizza.

“Yeah, this one has me stumped,” he answers as he hands Barry twenty bucks for the pizza and an extra ten for the tip. It’s a bit much, but looking at Barry’s raggedy red flannel shirt and worn blue jeans, he figures the kid needs it.

“Thanks, Mr. Comp-Man,” Barry answers as he pockets the ten and puts the twenty in the money bag.

“I have a big favor to ask, Mr. Comp-Man. I met this beautiful girl. I mean, she’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. Anyways, she’s a gamer and a big fan of yours. She’s even read your book about how to create games. Could I bring her by tonight to get your autograph?” Barry asks as he shifts his weight from foot to foot.

“Sure, bring her by,” he tells Barry. The kid looks happy.

“Thanks, Mr. Comp-Man,” Barry says as he heads back to his car.

Young love. Must be nice. He thinks to himself as he goes back to his computer to work on the game.

His heroine is in trouble. The game works flawlessly in every scenario, except this one. From the beginning, the game is rigged in her favor. She starts out smart, sweet, and confident. The only child of loving parents. In all other versions of the game, she finds her way to the Golden Castle where she overthrows the Foolish Monkeys and brings happiness to the land. No matter what choices the gamer makes, he can always find enough clues to get her to the happy ending.

The only glitch happens if the gamer stumbles upon this storyline. The one where her father wanders into the Forest of Error and abandons her at the tender age of fourteen. From there, the heroine gets off track searching for love instead of looking for clues to her destiny. She falls in love with men who treat her badly. She suffers heartbreak after heartbreak, until she ends up dancing in the Temple of Gloom. Trapped in her own dance of sorrow, the gamer has no way of getting her out.

The Game Maker has tried everything. For longer than he can remember, he’s been stuck in his house working non-stop trying to fix this problem. He refuses to let this ending exist. His head hurts from trying to create clues that will entice her out of the Temple of Gloom. She ignores them all. It’s as if she has a mind of her own. He can’t stand to see her suffer when he’s created her to be heroic. He sinks his face into his hands and weeps.

When he finally lifts his head, he looks at the dancing girl on the screen. He feels her sorrow and loss. As she spins and twirls, he remembers all the hours of hard work it took to make her look so beautiful. She moves like a cat, smooth and graceful. Will she ever see her own beauty as she dances before the mirrors of the Temple of Gloom?

Exhausted, the Game Maker finally talks to the dancing girl.

“I’ve watched you for so long, so much so, that your disappointments have become my disappointments, and your heartaches my own. I’ve created a better life for you, but you won’t leave this place. Even so, I just want to tell you that despite all the wrong turns that have landed you in this screwed up scenario, I love you more today than when I first created you.”

He looks at the girl remembering how he agonized over choosing every detail from her eye color, hairstyle, angle of her smile, quick wit, and kind personality. In his eyes, she remains a most beautiful creation.

It is in that moment the girl stops dancing. She stares back into his eyes and smiles. Tears streaming down her face, not tears of sorrow, but of joy. He watches as her energy level rises and her power increases.

Without touching his keyboard, he tells her, “Go right now. Leave this place!”

She exits without hesitation.

The Game Maker laughs. Leaning back in his chair, he feels waves of relief wash over him. Now that the dancing girl has left the Temple of Gloom, she will bump into a kind, handsome young man who will walk with her to the Golden Castle.

The doorbell rings. The Game Maker gets up to answer it. He feels so much lighter, that he’s tempted to skip to the door.

When he opens it, he see Barry and a beautiful young woman. Both kids are wearing flannel shirts and well-worn jeans, a charming couple. The girl has a big grin and her eyes are bright.

“Suzy, this is Mr. Comp-Man, ” Barry starts to say, but Suzy can’t hold back her excitement.

“Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it,” Suzy grabs his hand and starts to shake it. “It’s you, it’s really you. I love your games! I love your book!” She takes a deep breath and then nervously confesses, “I dream of creating my own games one day. It would mean a lot to me if you would sign my book.”

“Of course,” Mr. Comp-Man smiles as he takes her copy of his book.

She reminds me of the girl in the game, he thinks to himself. He knows his dancing girl will find her way to a future as bright as Suzy’s eyes.

Dear Suzy,

The future is yours. Go after your dream, and let nothing hold you back.

Best wishes,

Mike Compassion

A.K.A. “The Comp-Man”

Are you asking yourself, “What was that all about?” Well, it is the clue I have created for you.

Have you ever felt trapped and unable to move forward in life? Before there is change, forgiveness or courage; there must be compassion. If you can’t find compassion for yourself, then imagine it for another, another woman, sister or friend. See your life through someone else’s eyes. Let Compassion move you forward.

Dance with Me

I am not the same dancer with all partners. Nope. I wish that I were, but in real life, that is not how it works. I react differently depending on who I’m sharing the dance with.

Some partners cast a spell that convinces me I can do anything on the dance floor. My body feels loose and free. I follow like I have a psychic link with my leader. My creativity has no bounds and ideas come out of nowhere. I am at my best.

With other men, my body turns to tin. I am the Tin man dancing Salsa. I clink and clonk as I struggle with stiff arms and legs. Nothing works right. I spin around the dance floor asking,”What’s happening to me?” I don’t recognize myself. My creativity is gone. I am trapped in a tin can.

Why? I shake my head, shrug my shoulders, and wonder. A typical Salsa song lasts only five minutes. How can I change so much in such a short period of time?

The partner I dance best with laughs at our mistakes. He smiles even when I miss his lead. He holds my hands with just enough grip to give clear directions, and yet it’s a light touch so I don’t feel restricted. This type of leader gives me opportunities to play with the music and dance on my own.

On the flip side, I dance my worst when my mistakes seem to upset my partner. My body stiffens if he tries to correct me verbally. If he grips my hands too hard, my arms tighten. If he never lets my hands go, then rigor mortis sets in. I wait for some opportunity to express myself, but it never happens.

Could it be that certain types of people bring out the best in me? If it can have such a profound effect on the dance floor, then how much more of an impact could those closest to me have in shaping my life?

I am at my best surrounded by people who encourage creativity, laugh at mistakes, and appreciate teamwork. I become less of myself around those who are critical, controlling, and leave little room for self expression.

I think I’ll keep this in mind as I go forward in life.

What about you? Who brings out the best in you?

My advice? Dance with them often.

The Dancing Writer

Dancing and writing are the funky glasses I wear in life that gives color and depth to the world around and within me. One grounds me to the physical sensation of being alive. The other invites me to launch my imagination and explore endless possibilities. Dancing inhabits only the present, whereas writing exists forever on the page. And so I dance and write between now and forever in a playful way, living life in the moment and writing down what I learn.

Okay, so that’s the fancy way of saying both are just so much fun! I honestly don’t recognize myself if I don’t dance and write. This blog is my way of sharing what I love. My life is far from perfect, and I’m fine with that. What could be more boring than being perfect? No, I’ve had many bumps and bruises along the way, and skinned knees from kissing dirt after a tumble. Countless times, I have ended up hopelessly lost. And yet, here I am still standing, wearing my funky glasses.

I’m sure this blog will be about many things, because life is just so damn interesting, isn’t it? However, there is one question that is closest to my heart. I’m sure it will show up in my writing wearing disguises here and there, and when you spot it you’ll say, “Yep, I recognize that character.”

So, I’ll ask the question here. Are you alive?

Please tell me you’re not among the living dead. Zombies are all around us. I talk to them every day. Instead of seeking brains, the modern Zombie just wants more. More of what? Well, more of anything that will fill that void of not having enough. More time to get things done, more youth, more goodies, more money, more perfection, you get the idea. I was a Zombie for many years. I died taking care of everyone else. Never even noticed, I wasn’t even invited to the funeral. I just lost touch with that feeling of aliveness that comes from slowing down and breathing life in.

Somewhere along my twisted travels, I’ve come back from the undead. I dance and write, and I don’t think Zombies are capable of doing either of those things. So as long as I keep writing, you can rest assured I’m alive.

What about you? Did you check? If you found a heartbeat, then I hope this blog inspires you to keep exploring your own curiosities. If you didn’t find a pulse, don’t panic. Zombies are welcome here too. The more you hang out with the living, the more likely you’re heart will recharge. I’ll even let you borrow my funky glasses.