I learned to hide as a child, when I would get sequestered to my room by my mom when she was attempting to punish me.
“Don’t come out of your room until it is clean,” would be the directive. I’m not sure if my mom realized that this punishment was similar to Brer Rabbit being thrown into the briar patch.
My room was my hiding space. I could get lost in it for hours, moving and rearranging my piles and contemplating the meaning of life until the final call from my mom alerting me that she would be checking on my progress. This is also where I learned the art of procrastination, as I would wait until those final moments and throw my piles into their perfect hiding spaces under the bed or in the closet or wherever I could find a space to inconspicuously store my crap.
Mom was happy with the surface appearance of my space being clean. I realized the importance of appearing “put together” even when the things under the surface felt more like chaos. When that was the case, I would retreat. When I didn’t retreat to the quiet solitude of my upstairs room, I would sneak to the sunken basement and uncover the roll top record player to scan my parent’s collection of albums. I would dance to Abba, The Beatles and The Mammas and The Papas like it was my job. My dance became my retreat. I would act out the words of the lyrics or emotions I was experiencing through the movements on my makeshift dance floor.
My ability to retreat into the dance led me through the center of many moments of pain and struggle. After the death of my boyfriend when I was an 18 year old freshman in college, I would retreat to the dance floor of the bars surrounded by friends and strangers who were there celebrating and partying. I found solace in the dimly lit spaces where I could just show up in my drunken state and dance without anyone seeing my tears.
And now, 20 years since my drunken dance floor retreats, I have created a life on a mountaintop in Costa Rica, overlooking the ocean. From the surface, it looks like paradise. Just as my mom stood at the doorway of my room, and couldn’t see my chaos below the surface, I can again understand this dichotomy well. The land and the experiences here are potent. She is a land that has guided me in the dance of finding greater strength and sensitivity by diving right into the center of chaos and confusion. I am surrounded by a community who lives, works and interacts together on a constant basis. They are dancers on the dance floor with me, and at times we are celebrating, and other moments, we are holding mirrors up to one another so that we can truly see each other’s gifts and struggles, and continue our mysterious dance through this crazy life, one breath at a time.
My dance of life in 2013 was marked by the most unexpected moments, beginning with a dance under a sky lit by fireworks, and continuing as I remembered again the feeling of falling in love and the polarity of experiencing the break of that same expansive heart. Some of the most poignant moments in my year’s dance were dedicated to rebuilding my heart’s capacity to love myself first and foremost. The full circle of this year’s movement led me to new places and corners in my psyche, and in the closing moments of 2013, I danced in dedication to clarity, strength and expansion in the beats that have not been played out yet.
In these poignant times of expansion and challenge, I continue to dance and retreat and go within, because that is what I know to do when the times call for that response. I dance when my spirit feels empty yet ready. Like many times past, I push “play” and the music and dance dissolve, sustain and create new energy that propels me into the next incarnation. The answers emerge in their own time, and I find that my body, mind and spirit once again rebuild herself, as they move and shapeshift reality in time with the music of life.
The messages of this land are potent. She reminds me that 2014 has in store for us a pretty wild yet necessary dance.
Happy New Year.