Where I write

Where I write

April 15, 2015

Fear of Flying..

     My mother tap danced when she was a little girl. No my mother wasn't Shirley Temple, but I always pictured her looking like Shirley Temple. Patent leather shoes, frilly dress, impish smile. Growing up, I watched Shirley dancing in old black and white movies,  and hearing those  sharp and bright clicks and clacks made me want to do the same. Life looked happier tap dancing.

    I might be wrong, but when I was growing up my town lacked a dance studio. In any case, I never took dance lessons as a kid. My mother's casual comments about her childhood tap dancing stayed with me. I wanted to be like her and Shirley. I wanted to don twirly dresses and make joyful sounds with my feet. I wanted to be a tap dancer.

    Alas it wasn't to be until about ten years ago when a tap class was offered at the local community college. The school even provided shoes. Granted the tap shoes were child-like, patent leather with bows, but I jumped, or shall I say, tapped at the chance. Hilary, the dance teacher was kind and patient. The class moved slow, and my brain and feet moved faster then.  I had just bought my own pair of tap dance shoes when the college canceled the tap classes for lack of interest and never offered them again. I tossed my tap dance shoes in the closet.

   There the shoes remained in the dark silence, until about a year or so ago. By chance I saw  an advertisement for a dance studio that offered tap. Remembering my college experience as pleasant and though not that easy, something I could do fairly well, I attended my first tap class at the local dance studio.

      I felt as if I landed in rehearsals for Dancing with the Stars. The women at the dance studio were serious. They were all practicing a routine as if they were about to be on Broadway. Surely, I thought, these women were all taught to dance as children because this couldn't be the first time they slipped on tap shoes. I felt slow and plodding, and the weak link in the class. I would have been the first to be tossed off the dance island.

     The studio billed the class as fun and welcoming to all. Everyone was nice, but they were serious. As time passed, I recognized what a blow it was to my ego to realize how lacking I was in advanced tap dance skills. Oh yes I can tap, but compared to these women in the class...I wanted to quit. Why should I put myself through this humiliation when clearly... I sucked?

. Because it was good for me.  I wasn't being shamed. Well, not by anyone but myself. I was learning. I had fun when I stopped comparing myself to everyone else. I remembered how I felt in my initial writing class. My journalism teacher put so much red ink on my first assignment it looked as if the paper bled. I didn't give up. I understood there is a learning curve. But time has passed. These days, I like to feel in control and in charge. I like to feel like I'm smart. Dare I say, at times, a know it all. However, life keeps showing me time and again I have a lot to learn.  There's a lot of mistakes to be made still in my life. Thank goodness I have the chance.

.  So I continued with tap dancing, and when my ego felt wounded I told myself that there are people who struggle just to have clean water and food each day. My problem with not learning the steps fast enough to a Michael Jackson song seemed far less important. And then surprise surprise with practice I got better. I did well. Recently, the dance studio closed for good, but I'm going to keep tap dancing. Somewhere.

     I found this book at the thrift store recently and enjoyed the quotes. Here's one which sums up what I hope to adapt as not just my dancing motto, but life in general.  It was said by, of all people, Sam Walton. So if some of you can put aside your dislike of Walmart, the evil empire, here it is.

      Celebrate your success and find humor in your failures. Don't take yourself so seriously. Loosen up and everyone around you will loosen up. Have fun and always show enthusiasm. When all else fails put on a costume and sing a silly song.

     Unsure if Sam followed this advice. He's dead now, but I appreciate the words. As I do this photo of Shirley. She's flying! Whatever makes our feet lift off the ground, we need to do more of and not worry a bit about how it may or may not look. Never be afraid to fly.  With or without tap shoes.


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