“Face your fear, enter a space that is out of your comfort zone.”
The idea is to do something each of us typically avoids during class during our improv. I’m not thrilled. I’d prefer to dive deep into my frustration about being stuck on my book and cry it out. Once upon a time, that was super scary, but now it’s healing.
I can’t think of anything new to do. I’ve already spent entire sessions facing my fears: Start at the pole, invert during a dance, make eye contact the whole time, dance to an instrumental piece of music, dance in bra/panty only—Yikes, no clothes to play with… You get the idea.
The afternoon before class I receive a text: Who sings that song you’ve danced to about being near ocean and hoping someone dances?
I hope you dance by Lee Ann Womack.
J and I chat about the intensity of fear. She’s facing ‘being vulnerable.’ It gives me an idea. Perhaps I’ll ‘be boring’ as a way to face those fears about my memoir.
I’d committed to completing this version by the end of March so I can get a professional edit. I vowed to “do whatever it takes” because I hope my mom—who’s developed a serious heart condition—will get to read How Pole Dancing Change My Life. It’s dedicated to her and my nieces.
I made decent progress for two weeks, though doubts about quality crept in. I found flaws and gaping wholes that I needed to fix and fill.
I Got Stuck.
I stopped revising. I watched too much TV. I isolated. How could I send it out into the world when I’m not proud of it?
The next morning, as we sit on our purple mats waiting to begin, the woman next to me asks, “What’s your fear?”
I tell her. More importantly, I share why. She replies with understanding and support. No judgment.
Physically, I feel lighter. Our chat helps me to let go of some of my shame from lack of progress and too much TV.
We begin to move. At one point, while circling my hips high in the air in ‘bridge grind’ to Hey Now by London Grammar, this big-bad-wolf fear howls out of hiding.
That’s the fear I need to face.
With Both Ankles Tied to the Pole.
Later in class, when it’s my turn to dance, I wrap a rope around a pole a few times. I test it to make sure I cannot reach the chair, which symbolizes my completed manuscript. I tie one end of rope around each ankle then lie face down on the floor.
It’s okay to be boring, I remind myself as I wait for my song—Imogen Heap’s a capella Hallelujah. It’s layered with meaning for me. And at only 2:41 minutes long, it also addresses the assignment. I avoid short songs and never dance to anything less than three minutes because I’m afraid I won’t get all that I need.
As her hum fills the quiet, I roll left but the rope stops me. Same when I roll right. It’s like I am swimming, yet being tugged back by the undertow of the ocean.
I’m stuck. I could drown. I let the sensations sink into my muscles and bones. Then slide back to the pole and spin around. I slowly stand, looking into smiling eyes at the chair. I walk towards the welcoming energy until the rope grows taught.
I widen my stance; circle my hips and slowly strip off my top. I feel magic in this moment, more powerful somehow. There is a sense of accomplishment for how much I’ve written and that I already have an audience that I inspire. (You!)
I hear cheers.
I walk back to the pole, but it’s not where I want to be. I slide to floor then crawl towards a stack of mats in the corner, where a dear friend (and huge supporter of my writing) sits. The song ends as I get close, but before I know if the rope is long enough to reach her.
I sense deeper meaning in the half-way-to-chair strip moment, which both Amanda and my chair-sitter praise. But I don’t fully grasp the gold-nugget insight. It has something to do with progress, revealing more of myself, embarrassment over not yet being done and reclaiming my power.
The oppressive malaise eases.
That afternoon I deal with a bunch of emails, including inquiring about a path-to-publishing program at Book Passage, a local indie bookstore. The following day, my husband is off from work, but I sneak in writing amidst other activities. Our weekend is full. I look forward to diving back into the book on Monday.
Monday Brings More Gremlins.
The crankiness worsens. On Wednesday evening hubby and have tickets for Mamo, a Hawaiian music duo. I’d rather stay home to wallow.
Before the show, we visit Tupper & Reed, a new Berkley bar. I’m irritated and no help when he’s indecisive about full-menu upstairs or mini-menu downstairs. Poor guy asks, “Are you mad at me?” “
“No, I’m just cranky.” I sigh.
“Well get uncranky. Everything I say is wrong. I feel like I’m speaking anti-Lisa language.” He smirks at me.
I wasn’t fair to him. He’d been looking forward to this. Work was hell for him too. Maybe if I had some fun, I’d feel better. I let him make me laugh.
It dawns on me, had life gone as planned (and desperately desired) we’d be in Hawai’i right now.
I recall a poignant moment from the book I’d just finished—Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living With Joy. It’s a memoir by a woman in her early forties with ALS, much of it written on her iPhone with one thumb. In one scene, Susan sits in her wheelchair, in the parking lot under a tree, staring at the sapphire blue (with hints of teal and turquoise) Mediterranean Sea. While she watches her companions swim, she savors the view.
“I actively tried to make it okay not to be able to get down there and swim and dance on the sand. That is the secret I learn more of every day. Not to want things I cannot have or cannot do. Remove the want, and you remove the pain.”
How? I wondered, imagining myself in her seat.
Later in the book, when another memory making adventure turns out differently than she’d imagined:
“Accept the life that comes. Work and strive, but accept. Don’t force the world to be the one you dream. The reality is better.”
And I understand, it can be a decision and a practice to not pine. To not yearn. To choose to be present and enjoy where I am.
I let go of the crankiness. I savored my drink. And then, we relaxed to Akaka Falls and the entire set of aural island treats served by Nathan Aweau and Jeff Peterson.
What fear(s) do you need to dance with?
Do it. It’s worth it.