One of the beautiful aspects of life is being introduced to new activities and art forms you have never previously attempted. If we’re fortunate, we discover our new hobbies and our new passions this way.
I was recently introduced to salsa dancing, and its passionate and committed following.
As someone who had never previously attempted salsa, my first experience on the salsa dance floor was simultaneously nerve-wracking and welcoming. I was initially impressed by the cross-section of society which shows up to salsa night. From the young to the old, from the highly trained to the novice, they were all there, and all part of the same community. For one night, everyone seems to put their differences aside and they all become lost in this world of salsa, moving and counting in unison…or at least, some of us.
My biggest frustration arose not from without, but from within. I was constantly over thinking each movement, and furiously counting beats and patterns in my head. It seemed so simple for others, and my mind and body was having a hard time working in complete harmony. It helped that my instructor, dance partner and girlfriend was an experienced dancer. This helped to assuage my anguish, but the internal struggle persisted, as I fought to find harmony and balance within myself. Were it not for her patience and understanding guidance, I would have just given up! But like anything new, there is certainly a learning curve, and you have to fight through the initial frustrations.
It was a struggle, but there was a beauty in it, especially seeing people twice my age effortlessly and gracefully glide across the floor, easily twirling their partner in their wake. It was truly inspiring, and gave me hope that with practice, my twilight years will be as fruitful and enjoyable as this.
As I watched these young men who happened to inhabit older bodies, I was reminded that age is, to a point, a mental construct. These men and women moved with the same tenacity you might see from a young sailor with 12 hours of shore leave and not a moment to waste. There was peace and pure bliss in their movements, and to watch them reminded me that we never truly age in our minds. Our bodies may get old and frail, but that young girl or boy is constantly struggling to express themselves through the achy joints and failing eyesight. That child never sleeps.
I will be back. I won’t succomb to the path of least resistance. I refuse to place that young boy inside me in the corner. He deserves to be set free, to explore that eternal youth. I may never be the dancer my girlfriend is, or move with the same expertise as many of the people on that floor, but I will have fun, and enjoy the dance.
Sometimes, that’s enough.