Hello, welcome to day 20 of my self comittment to write each day for 15 minutes.
I am currently currled up in my Aunt’s basement in beautifully woven quilts listening to the sounds of a holiday party happening above me.
Tonight I played piano for the first time in well, maybe twenty-five years? My cousin’s little four-year old asked me to play so obviously I obliged. She got out sheet music and put it up on the top of the piano and said, “Play this one.” It’s been so long since I played from sheet music that I pretended to look at the music and then just began to hit random keys. After a few moments of this, my mind started to remember my training and I was able to pull out Deck the Halls. She quickly understood that this was not the song in the book and asked me to play the one on the next page. Again I began making up the song and playing whatever came to mind, she found this very exciting. She thought I was doing a wonderful job. Eventually after many minutes of page flipping, little tiny feet pushing the piano pedle I asked her if she wanted to play. She said, “Yes I will play, you dance!”.
Due to her encouragement I got up from the piano bench and began dancing like a crazy old person to her barely there song playing. She laughed and laughed and laughed and said, “Teresa you are so silly!”. Apparently she could also tell that my dancing was ridiculous. She repeated this until I finally said, “I know I am so silly.” And then she seemed satisfied that I agreed with her about how silly I looked.
Isn’t it amazing how authentic we can be when people accept us as we are? She was so enamored with my terrible and nerdy dancing and the fact that I was simply being the most me that I could be, that it encouraged me to continue. We laughed and laughed and laughed. Four-year olds are the best.
Soon we ended our piano session and returned to the kitchen where she encouraged me to do these dance moves in front of the entire family. She would start and then I would follow. Then she asked me to announce her, and she would come in and do multiple moves. She was amazing. Then she flipped the whole script and said, “Now I announce you!”. I did not like this idea. I liked the game where all of the attention was on her, I did not want to play any sort of game where the whole family was asked to stop what they were doing and look at my impression of a nerdy 1970’s high school girl. However, her cuteness won me over and I proceeded to let her announce me and I followed with my dance moves. Eventually I pivoted back to her and the game became me announcing her over and over and her entertaining all of us. I then tapped my cousin in so she could lead and dance and I could go back to being quieter and smaller at the kitchen counter.
We expect the four-year old to be wild and entertaining and charming. We encourage her to be herself, to express herself, to show us who she is. What happens when we grow up that makes us stop encouraging each other to be this way? I suppose that is a complicated question.
Artists are often referred to as “other”. People choosing a wild and free and off the beaten path life are considered “brave”. Why? Why do we suddenly conform and tighten and restrict when we could be doing our best dance moves in the middle of the kitchen? Why do we look to “others” to entertain us with their music and dancing and theatrics yet depend on ourselves for none of this? Why do I have to go to the theatre to feel like I am alive?
You know I am going to write that it is fear. Fear keeps us from dancing in the living room even if we aren’t that good (guilty). Fear keeps us from choosing our bliss, standing out, using our creativity, using our voices or our fancy dance moves. Fear, fear fear fear fear.
And what are we afraid of? Well perhaps this is also a complicated question. But I think tonight, even in front of the ones who love me the very most, I was afraid I would stand out. I was afraid I would be ridiculed, or not accepted. She accepted me. She saw me, she encouraged me, she enabled my authenticity. But it felt special, it felt like something that was ours, that we could have together. It’s probably why when I come home each Christmas I spend so much time with her.
When we were in the hallway preparing our dance moves and our plan for entertaining I said to her, almost as encouragement for her to come up with the plan, “I am nervous, I don’t really know what to do here. Can you help me? What do you think I should do?”.
And she looked at me with her big beautiful eyes and she whispered, “You can do whatever you want to do!”
Ah my child, you are exactly right.