Dance With Life

In 1996, Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., released a book entitled “End the Struggle and Dance with Life” (St. Martin’s Press)

This book had some great advice for people completely overrun by life’s circumstances.  Jeffers, personally, had not only driven herself to obtain a Ph.D., but distinguished herself as a prolific writer, been divorced, and was enduring treatment for cancer.

However, while anyone in Jeffers’ shoes is absolutely entitled to “End the Struggle” … it is not necessarily advised otherwise!  If you don’t have your Ph.D., haven’t distinguished yourself in anything, and haven’t yet endured any number of life’s most traumatizing circumstances, you’re not off-the-hook!   I noted with particular interest the title of one of Jeffers’ previous books – written while she was still struggling and not yet dancing – “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!”

Today, while freezing my butt directing traffic at the Kentucky Horse Park, I found that “dancing” helps while you’re deeply embedded within the struggle!

I had signed up to help the Rotary Club manage a huge traffic control challenge during the annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Farm Equipment Auction.  Trucks loaded with equipment, trucks with empty trailers coming to bid on equipment, and single vehicles had to be guided to different areas, and they all came in – and out – from a tri-state area between 6:30 am and noon.  I’m sure it was comical for anyone watching, but I found that “dancing” my way through the inevitably threatening traffic jams was the only way to survive!  (It was also cold and I had to keep moving!)

Here’s some important background on the “dancing” phenomenon:

Archimedes, jumping into a bath tub full of water and seeing it overflow, yelled “Eureka!  Two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time!”  [ ] (Well, it was a little more complicated than that, but that’s the take-away for this discussion.)  Modern Quantum Mechanics took the issue to the sub-atomic level

[ ], but the “Two Body Problem” has been a perennially confounding conjecture.  Quantum Mechanics has advanced attempts at a resolution by including the concept of motion.  Pushing that notion forward, the Quartermaster at EU has resolved the issue by restating it thus: “Two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time … unless they’re dancing!”

So I’ve begun DANCING!

If you really want the full impact of the “two bodies occupying the same space at the same time” thought, check out the following Facebook Post from Engineering Discoveries:

Wow!  Figure THAT one out!!

Back to dancing … It turns out that the choreography doesn’t really matter, as long as you keep moving.  Key Point: It helps to ANTICIPATE what’s coming next … and to have some place to go … and be “leaning” in that direction, else you risk serious discombobulation.

To begin “dancing”, try to capture or create a “rhythm” in what you’re doing.  Spirituals sung in the cotton fields and drum beats in the African bush made onerous activities much less debilitating.  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests we find or create a sense of “Flow” in the engagement with everyday life (Basic Books, 1997).  When things really get stressed, swaying to the blues may help – or switching to defiant “Rock ‘n Roll”!  Or let the “Sound of Music” carry you along:

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Or do a Yoga chant :

When working in a tight kitchen with many cooks, DANCE!  When caught in heavy traffic, DANCE!   When caught in a mass of people attending a popular public event, DANCE!  When preparing dinner, DANCE!  When crossing the street as a pedestrian, DANCE with the traffic.  When mowing the lawn, DANCE!  When pulling weeds, DANCE!  When cleaning the bathroom, DANCE!

My own “dancing” when things get tough or tight generally consists of repetitive, semi-rhythmic physical activities – like climbing stairs, doing squats at my desk, lifting lead bricks, or doing floor exercises … or taking a walk around the neighborhood … “dancing”.  It helps FOCUS attention and facilitates “thought-processing”: Writer’s block generally clears in between 90 seconds and 5 minutes!

The Rhythm of Life keeps changing.  Sometimes it’s frenetic, sometimes contemplative, sometimes completely baffling.  Sometimes it’s Brahms or Beethoven or Mozart, sometimes it’s Stravinsky, sometimes Calypso, sometimes Blues, sometimes Jazz, sometimes Asian, sometimes Mariachi, sometimes African …  Find or create your own way of DANCING, tap into a rhythm that matches the moment, and keep life happening.  Feel the fear and do it anyway – and don’t think you have to do it alone!    Quartermaster

Quote of the Week

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”  Albert Schweitzer

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