Man in the Mirror

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Facebook likes to pop up little bits from your past every now and then.  I’m not exactly sure how or why the algorithms decide when to show you something.  Could be if you haven’t posted in a bit and they want you to say something.  Or, it could be that the algorithms are much smarter than we think.  Case in point, for the last couple of days, I have been greeted with scenes from the two previous Big Dance Events I attended since they are always the same time each year.

One of them was from two years ago and was a photo of me modelling my new Latin outfit which we bought on site.  I’ve since replaced it with the shirt with the shiny buttons I’ll wear later this week.  The one two years ago was sort of a highlight because Z and I were actually getting along.  In retrospect, it was the high point of our dance journey although I didn’t know it at the time.  So that got me to reflecting.  (Oh sure, like you need a reason to be introspective!)  Fair point, but it is my blog and I’m going to do what I want to.

Life sure does throw a lot of curve balls at you.  Most people can handle the fast balls but, like Pedro Cerrano in Major League, the curve balls give you fits.  (I was hoping to find a clip but I was unsuccessful so if you haven’t seen that movie, the reference will fall flat)  And learning to hit the curve balls is kind of a key to success.  No, I’m certainly not a poster child for that.  I flail away at the curves but, every now and then, I do connect.  Still something I could be a lot better at.

Just a year ago, I wasn’t sure what my future at the Famous Franchise would be.  (To be honest, I’m still not sure what the long term picture is).  The ugly break up with Z had happened and the Body Double was leaving for a new life outside of our fair city.  My future was with Kid T who was still on a learning curve.  Any future competitions seemed a long way off.  Showcases helped but getting to that next level seemed like an impossible dream.  But, in two days, that’s what I’ll be doing.  Back on the team – even if I’m only the late season call up to fill out the roster.

There are a lot of times when I wonder why dancing has such a hold on me.  I pay a lot of money for the privilege of being pushed out of my comfort zone which can trigger all sorts of negative emotions.  The stress.  The doubts. The physical aches.  The dark side.  The demons.  Does all that balance the brief shining moments on the big dance floor?  Rhetorical question of course because it clearly does or I wouldn’t keep subjecting myself to it.

Still, that doesn’t answer the “why”.  I’m not a particularly competitive person.  Oh, I hate losing but I was never the “win at all cost” kind of person.  I didn’t do a lot of competitive sports as a kid.  I got into playing city league softball for a couple of years with a group of friends back in my home town.  And I played some intramural stuff in college but that’s about it.  There was always something different about playing a game for real vs a pick up type game.  Can’t really explain it but it felt different.  My favorite part of playing softball was right before my first at bat.  Taking some warm up swings and watching the pitcher and then stepping in to see what I could do.  Almost always taking the first pitch because I was a patient hitter.  See what he had and then adapt.  Clearly there is some competitive fire in me somewhere since I did enjoy the competitive nature of it.

In a way, my experiences with sports mirrors my dancing.  The teams I was on were never really quite good enough to win it all.  We got close a couple of times but could never really push through to that next level.  There were just too many gaps where we didn’t have the talent.  (I actually wasn’t terrible at softball so I don’t count myself in that group).  So you’d run up against a team that was more balanced and your gaps would be exposed.

But, even those games where you figured we were going to lose, it was still fun to show up and play.  Maybe that was just because it was guys with a common goal mostly working together.  One year, we had a prima donna on the team who was good but complained when his others made errors.  That I didn’t like because everyone was trying and the reality is that some people just didn’t have the skill level.

And maybe that is also a connection to dancing.  We are a team working towards a goal.  During practice, it is really teacher/student as they are there to teach and you are there to learn.  On the floor during a comp, you really are more of a team.  Even though I’m supposed to lead, the pro is the captain who has more responsibility.  For me, she helps to keep me on time and other things.  But I have to be ready as well.   There have been times when Kid T and Z slipped a bit or started to do something strange and you have step away from being the student and step up and do your part to keep the team moving.  I’m probably not expressing this right but that is part of the appeal of doing these events.

Yes, of course, there is the stretching of who you are and the positive vibe you can get at the end of the day for accomplishing something.  And, for me, there is that little light inside that you can switch on and become someone different for a minute and a half during a heat or a routine.

OK, there’s a whole bunch of “why” right there.  For me the comp is an emotional roller coaster.  There are highs and lows and you just hope you remember the highs more than the lows when all is said and done.

Well, I don’t have a coherent point here.  No light bulbs.  No flashes of brilliance.  No “A-HA” moments.  We’ll have a bigger crowd than past comps and my relationship with Kid T is in a much better place than I typically was with Z before a comp which will help.  Believe it or not, once the fear has dimmed, I’m really starting to look forward to this.  Crazy, ain’t it??




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