One of my closest friends recently dragged me off to a Lindy Hop dance lesson. I had a blast, and carried on dancing for years. Here’s what dancing taught me about living.
1. Recognise patterns
The Lindy Hop looked terribly complicated until patterns started emerging. Instead of learning an infinite number of different steps, I just tried to recognised a few basic patterns. Recognising patterns in relationships also helped me understand commitment phobia better.
2. Focus on the basic steps
Although the lindy hop looks complex, there’s just one “step, step, triple step” basic move. The rest are variations. My life too has certain rhythms that keep me sane and happy. Waking up at dawn and having a quiet coffee before the day starts is key. The rest of the day can happen any old how, as long as my morning basics have been observed.
3. Keep your form always
All dance teachers stress that you must keep your core strong, but your arms flexible. If you are too stiff, you cannot follow your partner’s lead. But flopping around like a rag doll makes you hard to dance with too. So with life. Have a strong inner core, but be flexible enough to adapt. It’s much harder than it sounds!
4. Know when to turn
When the guy holds out his right arm, he wants you to turn. I kept turning too late and throwing the guy off his rhythm. In life too, I sometimes react too late out of stubbornness, or simply not noticing that a change is required. I learnt to be more aware of cues.
5. Multiple points of contact
The more you are connected to your partner, the better you can sense what his next move is likely to be. This is so true in life. Stay connected to as many anchors as you can. They say never move house and change jobs at the same time. The point is to maintain as much stability as possible, with only one major change at a time.
6. Keep the engine purring
The instructor told the ladies we were Ferrari engines. We should purring silently in the background, ready to move into action at the slightest lead from the guy. This was the best lesson dancing taught me about life. I often get lazy and stop exercising, eating well, or improving my skills. What a good reminder to keep myself tuned, so that when life beckons in any way, I am ready.
7. Trust and follow
This was hard for many ladies in the room. We had to stop trying to execute the perfect step, and just follow his lead. We had to accept not knowing the plan and trust enough to let ourselves be led. Wisdom is about patience, being willing to wait until we feel a tug at our heart. And trusting enough to follow that gentle pull without knowing exactly where we are going.
8. Most of all, dancing taught me to have fun while the music lasts
When I connected well with my partner and was enjoying the dance, I would be disappointed with the song ended. But knowing the dance would eventually end helped me to appreciate it even more. Life is a dance, and one day the music will end. We must enjoy it while it lasts!