“You’ve got to dance like there’s nobody watching…”
All resolutions of mindfulness, being in the moment and the zen state vanished as I looked at the clock then, with a muttered expletive, pushed the last papers into my bag, grabbed my lunch and coffee and dashed out the door, running later than I wanted to get to school. Within a few quick moments, I had turned the car around and was bumping down our steep gravel driveway, dust rising in my wake.
As I neared the road, I caught a glimpse of my neighbor’s middle-school child standing in our driveway blocking my way. His back was to me and his backpack was sitting beside him, a telling clue. I glanced at the clock: He must be waiting for the bus. I approached, surprised that he wasn’t moving out of my way. (My old Subaru is many wonderful things, but silent and stealthy are not among them!) I continued forward slowly. But wait! What was he doing? He wasn’t standing anymore, he was all out dancing–arms, legs, moving wildly. He had some moves! He was dabbing this way and that, swiveling his hips and in general, going to town with great enthusiasm. I felt a broad smile stretch across my face. I drove even closer, now noticing the ear buds that stopped him from hearing the car’s approach, the ones that fed music into his happy feet. Closer still. Was I going to have to beep or get out and say something?
Finally, when I was quite close to him, he must have sensed something, and he turned in mid dance step, freezing briefly when he saw me close behind him. Then he turned away, grabbed his bag and shoved it to the side of the driveway, moving quickly to follow it. I smiled and waved casually as he turned back, maneuvered my car past him and drove out onto the road. The scene kept me smiling all the way to work–his delight in the music, the unselfconscious dancing, the innocent joy and vitality of the moment. What a great way to start my day!
Fast forward to the next day. Once again, my morning routine was off. I had opted to squeeze in a run and as I returned, he was again waiting at the end of the driveway. Today he was still, stolid. Simply standing. An antonym to yesterday’s animation. I checked: The ear buds were in. Perhaps the music simply wasn’t moving him today. Perhaps he was simply tired. But suddenly a thought occurred to me–what if this quiet waiting was a self-conscious awareness seeded from the day before? That moment yesterday which delighted me, probably mortified him. Will he now always feel like someone’s watching? Will he ever feel comfortable again dancing at the bus stop? I greeted him as I came to a breathless stop and then I headed up my driveway, hoping that as I disappeared from view, he might burst into uninhibited dance moves again. Crossing my fingers, but not holding my breath.