This past Saturday I hosted and facilitated a Dance Vacation up at my house.
After the dancing, we were all sitting in the courtyard together, looking out across the valley, talking, sharing, schmoozing, laughing, eating.
Abi said: “Uh-oh, I see smoke.”
I said: “Oh, it’s nothing.”
Abi said: “I don’t think so, I think there’s a fire…a big one.”
I said: “Na…it must be a controlled burn. No need to worry.”
“On a hot and windy day, in the middle of the summer, you think they would schedule a controlled burn?
“Sure! Why not? Pass the Kale Salad please.”
And we went back and forth like this for a few minutes, Abi concerned and correct in her assessment, me being in complete denial about the situation unfolding before us.
There is a fire that is currently blazing across the valley from where I live that started on Saturday, as Abi observed.
8 homes have been destroyed at this point, and I heard a few pets have been lost in the flames as well.
As this fire was burning, right in front of me, I sat in denial and stubbornly refused to acknowledge what was going on.
What happened to my brain at that moment?
Why could Abi see the event clearly, and I saw it in a haze of denial?
I have no idea.
I’m embarrassed that I was more focused on the kale salad than on the smoke billowing up in front of my eyes.
I keep thinking I need to email everyone who came to the Dance Vacation to let them know I made a mistake about the fire, that I should have jumped up out of my seat when Abi saw the smoke to check the website you check for these sorts of things and then confirmed that yes, there was a forest fire burning across the valley from where we sat, peacefully eating our lunch.
But I didn’t do that.
I changed the subject.
I ate more kale as the fire burned.
I teach a once a week dance class in the day care center at the gym I go to, as a trade for my membership there.
The other day, as I was gathering the little ones in a circle, I overheard of one of the older kids who comes to my class each week - she’s about 5 years-old I think - say to the 2 and 3 year-olds: “Hold onto your hats guys, she’s a funny one” and all these little eyeballs turned toward me, waiting to see what would happen next.
That made me laugh, because I love that she said “Hold onto your hats”, but it also made me wonder: Am I a funny one?
I don’t feel so funny these days.
I feel subdued and unsure.
I feel disconcerted that I didn’t listen, see, and take in what was unfolding right in front of me on that Saturday.
I open my kids class at the gym the same way every time I teach:
I point to my nose.
The kids all point to their nose.
I say “Point to your elbow.”
The kids all say “That’s not your elbow! That’s your nose!”
I say, “This is my nose? Are you sure?”
They say “Yes silly, that’s your nose. This is your elbow!” and then they point to their elbows.
One day I had a 6 or 7 year old in class who had never been there before.
As the nose/elbow routine was unfolding, he whispered to himself “What an idiot”, eyeing me suspiciously.
It took every ounce of energy not to turn to him, and say “I know where my nose is Mister.”
I didn’t though, I held it together, and continued on with our game.
I saw the larger picture, and did what was necessary to keep the group moving forward, making sure not to take time away from class to calm and validate my own self that was a tad off center after being called an idiot by a 6 year old.
I wasn’t able see the larger picture with the fire.
I wasn’t able to see anything at all.
I chose to put my blinders on and to keep my head down.
I chose to eat my vegetables and got on with the day.
When a little bit later it became clear that there was a full fledged forest fire burning across the valley, I slumped down and stopped all life activities for a little bit.
I made myself remember our fire, the one that happened in 2003.
The one that burned down our cabin, and Glen’s shop, and the land the land the land.
I made myself remember and remember and remember.
After remembering all I could remember, I emailed everyone I knew across the valley, to see how they were, to ask what they needed, and to make sure they were okay.
My next email will go out to everyone who was at the Dance Vacation this past Saturday saying, “I don’t know what happened. I couldn’t bring myself to see the smoke clearly that day. I’m sorry I ignored your concerns. I wish I had seen what you saw, and acted accordingly instead of flippantly pretending the billowing smoke was nothing at all to be concerned about.”
One day at the gym, when I was doing the whole nose/elbow shctick, I said to the kids, “How did you all get so smart?”
One little boy answered:
“I really don’t know, because my dad? He’s not smart AT ALL. He misses a lot of stuff.”
That’s how I felt on Saturday….Not smart AT ALL, and missing a lot of stuff.
Stubborn and bullheaded, yes.
But not smart.
Your Dance Mission for the Week has nothing to do with fires, or noses, or elbows.
It has to do with doing a dance on your couch.
I like to start with my head hanging down off the couch, and my legs up in the air.
I notice my breath, feel my body against the soft cushions, and wait to see what emerges.
I also like to slither and slide off the couch, and then figure out how to slither and slide back up.
I like to kneel on my knees on the arms of the couch, and then fall face first into the pillows.
What do you like to do?
You can tell me here.
Or email me.
I love getting your emails.
With Warmth and Jive Vibes,
Joanna and The Agitators
sweetly agitating/persistently upending
PS PS PS PS: Tons of Upcoming that is Coming Right Up, so Mark your Calendars!
DANCE VACATION: Saturday, August 13th, 9am-3pm, at my house in Jamestown. A few spots left, so email if you are interested.
FREE DANCE CLASSES: Tuesday, September 6th and Thursday, September 8th. 11-1pm at The Boulder Circus Center.
FALL DANCE CLASSES: Sept 13th-December 15th, Tuesdays and/or Thursdays. 11-1pm, at The Boulder Circus Center.
DOG DANCE: Friday, September 16th at 7pm. Tentatively at Floorspace, but am working out those details, so location TBA for now.