the big band theory

There was really no choice. The car pulled up next to use as we waited for the bus in San Francisco. The stereo was blaring big band music. And I love big band music. We danced. Middle Child and I. On the sidewalk, at the bus stop, in the middle of the city. I believe a few people raised eyebrows, but then again, this was San Francisco. Possibly no one even noticed.

I’ve seen the pretty pictures with the encouragement to “dance like no one is looking.” It’s easy to say. I never find it so easy to do. It is not in my nature to stand out in public. If there are people looking, I don’t want them looking at me unless I am behind a podium or on a stage. But letting go and freestyling it in public? Sooo not me.

The Streets of San Francisco.
a whole new meaning
I get braver when I’m with my kids. Being in a city where no one will ever see me again doesn’t hurt, either. For a couple minutes, we had a glorious time dancing and not caring who was looking.

Tomorrow is my sister’s birthday. She would have been have been 63 this year. I know—I am not old enough to have a sister who would be 63. Keep telling me that. One of the advantages about being the youngest of seven. I have nephews almost as old as I am. But Marilyn isn’t 63 tomorrow, because she died just short of her 25th birthday. Why is this relevant? 

Because she would have danced.

Marilyn spent twenty of her 25 years in a wheelchair because of muscular dystrophy. I never knew her any other way. Every time my sister went out in public she drew attention. She probably didn’t want to either, but in those days, wheelchairs in public were not commonplace. 

Maybe that’s why she grew into the kind of person who didn’t seem to care what people thought. She had to either cringe at the attention or smile at it. Being the wise woman she was, she chose the latter.

Marilyn did all kinds of things no one thought she could. Graduated high school. Got baptized in a swimming pool. Lived ten years longer than they told her she would. But one thing she definitely never did was dance. I am guessing my sister would have loved to dance.

Child #1, who already knows
how to do this well.
Dance like no one’s looking. It’s a nice idea. But it jut seems like no matter how well we play the “I’m not listening” game, we know someone is listening. And looking. And talking. And thinking we’re out of our minds. No matter how much I don’t want to, I care too much about that.

It may be dancing. It may be writing. It may be parenting, or painting, or preaching. Whatever it is, it is hard to do it without fear of someone’s critical eye. 

Not without consideration–considering others’ ideas and opinions is good. I said FEAR. And that’s not.

So what I’m thinking is, maybe next time I’ll think of Marilyn. Who never danced in her whole life. Who would have. She would have, and she would have relished the chance. Maybe I’ll think about how blessed I am to have two legs, or whatever it is I need to do whatever it is I’m afraid of. And I’ll dance for her. Because she would have liked that.

What is public opinion keeping you from doing? Who is your inspiration for dancing?

One thought on “the big band theory

  1. Pingback: Dance Like We Just Don’t Care – jill.m.richardson

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