Monday, March 2, 2015

Collective Ecstasy, #SOL15



In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown writes about the power of dance. She quotes Barbarah Ehrenreich, an anthropologist, who says "We are innately social beings, impelled almost instinctively to share our joy." My favorite shame researcher goes onto say that for many of us, there is no form of self-expression that makes us feel more vulnerable than dancing. Based on the blog topics, comment feeds, and Facebook discourse I witnessed yesterday, I think writing runs a close second. Whether we are sharing our souls through body movement or written expression, we risk exposure. And since we all seem to live in a culture held hostage by fear and anxiety, the act of publicly putting ourselves out there induces sheer terror.

About a year ago my oh-so-fabulous, little sister invited me to a drum circle in north Arlington. Chris and Chandler tagged along, and none of us knew what to expect. When we showed up, we found a parking lot full of eclectic, free-spirited folks, primed to let lose and move to the groove of the music. Belly dancers dressed in flowing skirts, swiveled around, limber and melodic. Young children hoola-hooped, and flame throwers twirled batons. All the while, I set back mesmerized and intrigued by the scene unfolding before my eyes. I kept thinking, I could never be that brave. My five year old niece joined the circle, unafraid and uninhibited. I longed for a distant season of my life when I didn't care about the opinions of others.

As adults, we seem to be plagued by perception control. This insatiable need for approval is an illusion, because how other people view us is really none of our business. If they don't like how we dance or how we write, why should we care? Haters gonna hate, right? Thankfully, there are people in the world like the incredible women who host The Two Writing Teacher's Blog and folks like Colby Sharp and Donalyn Miller who start dancing, firm in their belief that others will join the party.

Several years ago, I saw this video on a TED talk that went viral.


I never feel brave enough to be the guy who starts dancing. However, if compelled, I will certainly become a first follower. We need independent thinkers and creative geniuses to lead the way, and most importantly, we need each other. Finding my tribe gives me courage to let loose and embrace the uncomfortable. When I know I'm not alone, I feel gutsy and unafraid.

Someday, I hope I feel confident enough in my own skin to dance in the drum circle. In the meantime, I will keep thinking, blogging, and writing. Reading and commenting on my friends' blogs brings me great joy, so I guess I'm experiencing collective ecstasy after all!


12 comments:

  1. Love the Barbara Ehrenreich quote. I'm not a dancer, although I use to line dance and talked my husband into ballroom dancing a few years ago. That was a disaster because, although we did not realize it at the time, he had a rotator cuff injury.

    I do, however, think we should care about how our writing, depending on our audience, resonates. As a teacher of seniors, I try to show students how to embrace their inner writer and still train and mold that writer's voice so that it will resonate with an audience of one and many.

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    1. Glenda,

      You are so right about crafting our writing for an intended outcome. When we write, or dance, or sing, our hope is that the audience reacts. However, ultimately, the reader is in control. We can weave words together hoping to pack a punch, and sometimes it works. Other times, the effect falls flat. Your senior students are lucky to have a teacher who writes alongside them. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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  2. I could be brave enough to dance metaphorically, but never literally! I will take the lead on many things, but no one sees me dancing...even with my tribe supporting me. I am with you - I will just keep writing.

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    1. Leigh Anne,

      Dancing seems incredibly vulnerable to me too. This white girl cannot dance, and she has no rhythm! Body smart is not my thing, but like I tell my students, sometimes we have to stretch ourselves in ways that feel incredibly uncomfortable. Thank for responding, encouraging, and commenting.

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  3. I love your connections between dancing and writing, and the idea that we can find collective ecstasy in both! It's so true! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Robyn,

      Thanks for the sweet comment. I love metaphors and analogies. They help me make sense of my world. This whole slicing exercise has provided collective ecstasy, and I'm thankful for meeting new friends like you!

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  4. It's only day 2 and I am already feeling more gutsy and brave! Thanks for encouraging me!

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    1. I loved reading your thoughts about Dr. Suess, and I can tell Oh The Places You'll Go holds a special place in your heart. You're a spunky one Brittany, and the world needs to hear what you have to say! So glad you took the challenge.

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  5. As Christopher Robin said, " You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." You have always amazed me with your drive and determination! That's bravery my friend, everyone shows their strengths in different ways. Rest assured fearlessness is one of your many assets!

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    1. Mrs. Barnes,

      Thanks for the reminder that we are all gifted in unique and wonderful ways. Brave for me is not the same as brave for others. Different, not less is a lesson I learn on repeat. Thank you for the kind words of encouragement. It's a lot easier to be brave when you've had amazing mentors like you to carve a path for me to walk on. Love you!

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  6. I do believe you are a dancer; you just have to believe it too!

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    1. Tara,

      First of all, what are you doing up at 4;18 a.m.? That's sleeping time girl! Dancing is so much for fun in a group. I think after we complete this slice of life challenge, we should all go dance the night away? Are you in?

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