December 10th, 2009

I Think I'll Dance

I frequently have these conversations, sometimes whole committee meetings, in my head. Note that I said have conversations not hear voices, there is a difference. So anyway, my head was having a discussion this morning about age and life.

Several years ago, at the end of one of my former lives, I’d come to a cross-road - I had to change professions. The problem being that I’d never finished college. I was over qualified for most non-degreed jobs and had unfortunately discovered that no one was going to hire me without a piece of paper that said “I Know Shit.”

There were many strikes against going back to school: I was in my late thirty’s. I would be an older returning student. I had to change my major. I didn’t know what I wanted to study. I had small children.

I agonized over this decision. I was stuck. I was stuck by my age. I could only go to school part-time so it would take me years to finish. By the time I graduated, I was going to be in my early to mid-forty’s. But I couldn’t get a job I was qualified for otherwise.

I decided to take this to my Buddhist guru and see what he had to say. My father has always been a good sounding board for me and was a past master at starting life over again. He, himself, had been through several. He was also responsible for my then current life as a massage therapist.

I explained everything to him, hopes, dreams, fear of trying to start a new life in my forties, and he said something quite astounding. “You’re going to be that old anyway. You can be forty-five and have a degree or you can be forty-five and not have a degree. Either way, you’re going to be forty-five. What you do with it is up to you.”

Wow. What an epiphany. It has stayed with me these many years. So here I am at forty-five. I haven’t finished my degree, but I have a kick-ass job at a university because I spent a lot of time in school, my choice of major and my previous work experience.

And here I am starting over, again. Not with work, but with life. This year, I started to dance. This year, I decided to start writing again. This year, I decided to see what I could do with my photography. All this year.

So what had stopped me? Opinion. I never danced because I was always too fat, too ugly, too clumsy. I stopped writing because who would want to read any fiction I wrote anyway? I stopped shooting for no good reason. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that a lot of the little hindrances don’t matter anymore; that sometimes, you have to do things just for you, for the sheer joy of doing them.

Today, I write because I like to write and I like to research. It doesn’t matter if I get published or not. Today, I shoot because I want to show people how I see the world and what I find beautiful. Today, I dance because there is joy in movement and I don’t care what other people think about me physically.

I’m forty-five anyway. What I do with it is up to me. Today, I think I’ll dance.