The world is changing fast and we’re in too much of a hurry; like we’re trying to get away from it, like we’re trying to get ahead of ourselves, like we think we’re actually going somewhere and that it’s important to accomplish many things along the way. It doesn’t matter if we’re not actually going anywhere or if there is no deadline, we still, for the most part, act as if we’re in a hurry. It makes us feel vital.
We rarely know how to slow down, breathe and relax. In addition to moving as if it could save our life, we often ingest substances and engage in distractions to help us deal with our anxiety. We don’t know how to simply wait. We become impatient if the line-up is too long, the wait for our meal is too long, the wait for an email or telephone response is too long, the perfect job isn’t coming, the perfect relationship escapes us. We don’t like to wait. We want it and we want it now – even if we’re not very clear on what ‘it’ is. We’re not comfortable with incompletion, the unknown, loose ends, we like to have things all figured out and expedited smoothly from one goal and then on to the next. We constantly bolt forward, often unnecessarily, to escape the discomfort of not-knowing and waiting. We do this in life, we do this on the dance floor. The dance floor is the one sacred place where we should be able to just slow down and enjoy the present moment with no goal to be achieved, enjoy the music and enjoy each other. It’s a great place to take a breath and practice waiting.
Most people are moving too fast on the dance floor. This is how accidents happen. If we ever knew it to begin with – we forgot to slow down and sense the music and our partner. We have become desensitized and insist on following prescribed patterns etched in our head rather than feel with our body, our heart, our intuition, remain curious, act spontaneously, and to improvise.
(“Well, how do you improvise”, you say, “if you don’t have the tools in your toolbox?” Your body, in its infinite wisdom, will lead you if you let it. It won’t be perfect but it will be yours – not something some teacher taught you. The very first tango dancers made everything up. The god of tango did not come down from the sky with his tablet and instruct them. )
There are men leading too fast and too harshly and women who are anticipating – moving without first being invited. Physically we’re ‘yelling’ at each other, ‘speaking’ at the same time and ‘resisting’. It looks like we’re dancing. Let’s bring it down to a whisper. Let’s connect and sense each other at a more subtle level. Let’s speak one at a time – flow back and forth gently in ‘conversation’.
In life, it looks like we’re moving along with the rhythm just fine. Are we? When we move on autopilot, are we able to sense the subtleties and the subtext (the underlying, and usually greater, message)? Are we able to hear the soft sounds of our intuition, our own higher power or spirit or whatever is greater than our ego? How are we doing in our relationships? Do we really ‘feel’ each other? Do we feel the yearning for a deeper connection? Do we feel the desire for peace and peace of mind? Are we satisfied with a sometimes, somewhat, skillfully executed acrobatic experience – on the dance floor and in life?
Last spring I arrived late to a class that Leo was offering before a film about Tango that he was presenting. He was short of leads so I filled in as he was already counting out the basic. I paired up with a woman and began to feel the music. I was interrupted by her impatient, almost scornful, “I’m waiting!” Taken aback, I defended myself kindly by saying I was intending to begin at the next count of 1. But, had I been fully in my magnificent witty and compassionate masculine (I can appreciate how long it takes to be a man now), I would have responded “Fantastic! That’s exactly what you’re supposed to be doing – waiting.” All the good comebacks arrive a little too late to be effective.
So, women – wait, don’t anticipate. This should be your mantra. This is one reason that it’s a good idea to change partners – so you don’t know what he’s going to do next. Men, don’t move so fast, wait. Sense the woman’s weight and change it slowly, let her adjust her balance and stay momentarily sustained on her axis. This helps her to improve her balance and not lean on you. Wait for her to do an adornment, give her time to relax into you, give her the opportunity to surrender.
Wait when you’re speaking with someone. We’re usually so busy formulating our next sentence and can hardly wait to blurt it out that we’re not really listening to the other person and not sensing when they’re finished relaying their thought – or listening for the deeper message behind their words. We’re uncomfortable with silence and we just want to be heard. Instead, try taking a pause, letting the other person’s words sink in, breathe and then offer your thoughtful reply. Conversation is not a contest.
And in life, as difficult as it is (don’t I know it!), wait. Stop trying so hard to execute, accomplish, hurry and control. Stop the struggle. Waiting may save you from doing or saying something that you’ll regret. Waiting may save you from having to do something all over again. The time spent in waiting may actually save you time in the long run. Wait for the answers to reveal themselves. The way will be shown if you stop and wait, patiently wait, seemingly endlessly wait, chew your fingernails, count the fibers in your carpet, follow the path of your breath silently through your body, and just wait. And pay attention. The perfect answer, the perfect solution, the perfect way will reveal itself. I promise.