(The name for this blog came to me months ago, but it was not my conscious intention to find a “dancing” theme as I started to write this inaugural entry. Somehow thoughts that began with solitude morphed into a metaphor about dancing, yet more evidence for getting out of the way and letting the spirit soar freely.)
My husband died five years ago. Assessing my present state of being: I’m alive. (Might as well start with the most important thing.) I continue to cope, in spite of ongoing longing and challenging changes in my life and circumstances. I’m grateful for the sustaining presence of God, family, and friends; for inner strength, serendipities, and enviable resources of so many kinds and dimensions.
I’ve spent these years learning a new way to be. I accept (there’s that word that was so hard to come to…) that Jack is gone; that I must learn to be happy without him, but I do not accept that there is not some way to feel whole again.
Taking the long view, I realize that I’m being dragged, kicking and screaming -figuratively if not literally – onto a new playing field. If I were smart, I’d quit kicking and screaming, assess the lay of the land, learn the rules of the game and get with the program!
First task: naming the game. Let’s try out some catchy titles – after all, I need to be enticed to play!
Alone but not Lonely (Not even I believe that. No one would pick up that box willingly, take it home, and check the rules.)
Thriving as a Single (Boring. Sounds more like a financial plan.)
Learning a Larger Thankfulness (A game? Get real.)
From Pas de Deux to Corps de Ballet (Now we’re talking. I love metaphors!)
Okay. Pas de Deux to Corps de Ballet. Let’s explore the possibilities. My first thought – this is not helpful! – is that I don’t like crowds. I loved “tea for two.” Too bad. Give it up, Buttercup…
Pas de Deux to Corps de Ballet – Rules of the Game
The goal of the game is to help you change gears from couple identity to “family of humanity” identity. It will show you how to replace the outlook – currently unavailable to you – that emphasized your status as half of a dance for two, with a flexible view of the many alternate kinds of interactions on many levels that are available to you now; different dances, for sure, but each one beautiful in its own right. The game does not discourage or rule out dreams and intentions of new partnerships, but it will coax you to let go of old definitions of belonging as you try out new ones. It emphasizes experience of the interconnectedness of all things and people, replacing the duet that was pas de deux with corps de ballet: “the group of dancers who are not soloists or principals,” but who nonetheless perform an intricate, beautiful dance together. Sometimes they twirl independently, sometimes they support each other; sometimes they form large circles, sometimes small ones; sometimes they dance in lines, sometimes there seems to be no recognizable form or organization. Each dancer is needed, and each must find their rightful place on the stage.
Players advance by putting one foot in front of the other. There are no dice to roll in hopes of advancing through multiple squares in a single move. You step from one square to the next, and stay long enough to absorb whatever you need to learn before moving on.
Fighting the process actually retards progress. “The slow way is the fast way,” as B. F. S. Iyengar so famously said.
Unlike a conventional board game, each square you enter is multidimensional. The opening to the next square is rarely obvious. Flailing about will serve only to further obscure the way forward. The best strategy is curiosity, and a quiet, observant mind and heart.
Trying to “get the hell out” of one square and into the next obscures not only the path, but also hides the graces contained therein, and in every square there are graces specifically placed there to sustain you and help you heal and go forward. If you are too obsessed, anxious, and “busy,” you will miss significant healing opportunities, and further impede your own progress. Instead, try “looking under the bushes” for the delights that are there. They may not be the ones you wanted, but there are delights, nonetheless, and thriving means accepting not only what has been taken away, but also what is given.
Like “The Game of Life,” (the board game that has been popular for decades) some squares are easier, happier, more beneficent in the moment than others, but ALL the squares must be gone through in order to arrive at your destination.
Caveat: (This is somewhat of a repeat instruction, but hardly anyone gets it the first time around.) Only one “next square” will appear at a time. Unlike a conventional board game, you cannot see the entire layout and know where you are in the journey. There is no way to gauge “close” or “far.” “Close” in Pas de Deux to Corps de Ballet has an entirely different definition. You are “close” when you surrender to the square you are in, agree to live in it completely until…
Pas de Deux to Corps de Ballet is more like an interactive video game than a traditional board game. The progression of squares is not predestined. What appears next depends on what and how you do in any given square. The “board” includes forks in the road, circuitous loops, and convoluted detours. However, they all go where you are destined to go, because you will get to the place God intends for you, no matter what you do or do not do. Therefore, spend less time agonizing, and simply do the next thing, the thing that is right in front of you. Don’t try to get beyond what is in immediate view.
There is a hidden, underlying talisman that will guide your way, if you allow it to: falling from insistence on self-reliance into letting go and trusting the Great Mystery. The Holy One waits within, yearning to comfort and aid you in your journey.