The dance of Life I learned by heart

“I don’t know how to dance… well, I mean obviously I can dance to the radio but not properly dance.” 

The amused smirk I received in response said it all: there was so much for me still to learn but you learn how to dance together and somehow, I did too. 

At first, when I tried to dance, my limbs were clumsy and my mind forgetful. I’d remember the small things, the way it felt to be close to your partner but never the steps it required to stay on track with them and keep moving through life. 

But experience and a hard-learned lesson, which involved some stumbling and falling out of graceful step in life, taught me how to dance a new dance.

Then, the pupil became the teacher and I learned that it was the small things that added up to the careful movements and unhurried steps.

“Are you sure?” I asked because this wasn’t an easy dance to learn and it’s not one you can ever unlearn. 

Yet, on it went, so I felt the heart tremors, and used my whispers of guidance and gentle teachings, timing them with the movements of my now-sure limbs, but even so, I never understood that this was the dance of life – and for a few giddying moments, it was mine to enjoy. 

It wasn’t all teaching though, for I gave myself to learning too and I’ll admit, I’m now pretty good at both. I began to recognise the movements that followed one after another and the patterns of breathless beauty that they proceeded to create.

“This feels amazing… this is so amazing.” I said once or twice when it overcame me and I realised just how wonderfully blessed I was to know how to dance this dance. 

I giggled unrestrainedly a few times, as I slowly learnt a new dance, one which moved to a different beat, and wonderingly said out loud, “You’re smiling…you can’t see it but you’re really smiling.”

I felt the move of the earth beneath me, whilst held gently in place, holding on for dear life almost for, in those moments, this was all that mattered, it’s still all that ever could. 

I grew accustomed to the vulnerability that came with letting go, of allowing yourself to get lost in the dance – but I never ever wanted it to stop. 

It was like breathing at a point, only perhaps more effortless, for my awkward steps and repetitions soon became those of a knowing expert and it turned into a dance of human perfection. 

Yet, it was a dance I never expected to be granted the opportunity to enjoy (not even once), though it became the dance of my heart, body and soul; one that I relished and looked forward to every single time I walked out on to that floor and extended my hand in invitation to join. 

Still, when you lose yourself so completely, to something so beautiful and natural, it’s hard to remember life before it, or to watch the magic slipping through your fingers in the moments that follow… 

It was gentle and easy at times, or fast and heated and compelling at others. It was a dance of skill, of untamed splendour, but one learned without very much need for practice when, with you, the other is equally skilled and certain. 

It became the dance of my brightest waking hours and the dance of my midnight dreams. 

It is the dance I remember when I daydream now or lie down to sleep, which plays before my eyes 24/7 on repeat, coming as clear as day whenever I let it… and I let it return often enough, I can tell you that. 

It’s the dance I think of when I see a sunset behind my mountain and watch my city fade to grey, as I dance here on my own to the sound of silence. 

It’s a dance of the morning, of a pre-dawn world in which all is still, when there’s hope and magic in the air again. And when I arise, I smilingly reflect on my precious few dance routines and allow myself to return to them once more.
It’s the dance I see when I close my eyes in quiet moments on the train, as music fills my head and I relive those tentative steps that made me laugh out loud again. 

It’s the dance I think of when I’m alone, with nothing but memories for my own.

It’s the dance I remember even as I type out these words and that I know, no matter how much time passes, it is one I will always be able to recall. 

It’s the dance of existence, in the moments when I half-wish I didn’t any more, and the dance of life… that assures me, once again, that everything will be all right, in spite of my growing fear. 

Because you see, I learned that dance – the dance of Life, as I now call it – off by heart… and it’s the one I am unlikely to ever  forget, even when the music stops and the magic brought with it is well and truly gone.


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