i’ve been dancin | SELF-IMPORTANCE
i’ve been dancin a lot and recently in a conversation about purpose someone asked me if i think dancing is important. i told them “no.” i told them no because i think what they really meant to ask is whether or not i think dancing is important enough to be doing instead of anything else. and no, i don’t think it’s any more important than farming, or preaching, or mother & fathering, or lawyering.
i don’t know that dancing, or art, or anything i do could ever save the world and acknowledging that has been an enormous relief. i do it because i like it. i do it because it feels good to move and i don’t want to not be dancing right now. i’m becoming less and less afraid of being called to an ordinary life and just living it excellently with what i’ve been given. colleen thomas, one of the choreographers i worked with this summer, told us that someone once told her “it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” yes! i agree. i agree and i find it liberating to agree.
i hear and read so many exhortations to develop a grand sense of self-importance and it’s hard to resist the temptation to want to make everything i do the most meaningful, biggest, most important, most world-changing, most radical work EVER! (cue fireworks). they tell me i’ve only been put on this earth to ascend every ladder and be well liked and be incredibly impactful all the time, as soon as possible, and janitors, and understudies, and homemakers are leading less-than-empowered lives. if i give into the temptation to believe that i’m left lamenting and weeping and beating myself up when i acknowledge my smallness and insignificance upon realization of the largeness of the world.
there will always be something more important, more urgent, more necessary, and chasing after that is exhausting. i love what dorian corey says in this scene from paris is burning
everybody wants to leave something behind them, some impression, some mark upon the world. and then you think, you’ve left a mark upon the world if you just get through it and a few people remember your name. then you’ve left a mark. you don’t have to bend the whole world. i think it’s better to just enjoy it… pay your dues and enjoy it. if you shoot an arrow and it goes real high, hooray for you.
the preacher in ecclesiastes expressed the same sentiment: all our works are vanity. it’s a gift from the hand of god to just enjoy your work, so enjoy it. out of all the the things it’s possible for us to do, fearing elohim is the only one that matters - “pay your dues and enjoy it.”
feeling insecure and insignificant only comes from wanting to be the most important and failing at that. i find it humbling and more empowering to acknowledge that EVERY LIFE is significant. EVERY LIFE and EVERY CALLING from god is valid and important and meaningful and world-changing, and i’m not any more important than the beggar on the street. i hate this notion of individualistic excellence that removes our interconnections. all of the parts of a machine matter, all of the parts of a body matter, and i hate feeling like i have to be the most important part. i’ve been finding so much comfort in acknowledging my “ain’t-shitness” and recognizing how wonderfully humility serves as a shield against self-hate and insecurity.
so if i dance because i like it - it is what it is. maybe i’m just supposed to dance for this time and, for whatever reason, god finds that important & has made a way for it to be.