Beginner's Heart

via flickr

via flickr

I’ve looked everywhere to find the photographer/ artist who made this picture. It would be wonderful to thank him/her, because I love it. And I live it, although I’m not quite as old as the woman in the picture. But I’m certainly not as young as the dancer, either!

I once asked my grandmother, who must have been in her 70s then, what it felt like to be old (the 70s seem much younger than they used to!). She thought for a moment, & responded: Well, honey, I look in the mirror and think: who is that old woman?? Inside, I’m still the same.

My mother-in-law was the same, and my mother even more so. Until Alzheimer’s claimed my mother, she was the first to dance, the first to sing, the first to riotously happy. No alcohol needed.

I almost never dance anymore, although once it was a huge part of my life. As a teen I even danced w/ a local dance troupe — pop dance, not ballet, although I took ballet into my awkwardest of years: post-babies. When I signed up as adult w/ my 5-year-old son, I received ‘most improved’ at the end of the session. Along w/ comments like, I’ve never seen a grand jété done quite like that… I didn’t care. I loved dancing.

I danced w/ my beloved at embassy parties, at cocktail parties, at picnics and dinners and Hallowe’en galas. His best friend often partnered me, throwing the much-slighter me of years ago into the air, and then catching me in a graceful arc.

Now, running has taken its toll on my knees, I’ve had a joint replacement, and I don’t dance. Except like this — inside, with the same fervour I always had.

Beginner’s heart is like that, I think: an inside dance that may not be at all apparent to anyone else. One that transforms us on the inside. But it casts shadows. Dancing, light-hearted shadows. And they’re beautiful, like blithe dancers…