Sunday, October 18, 2015

So You Think You Can Dance

Today I laughed and cried. I met someone who is fighting to stay alive, but living so fully that her joy reached out and woke up my mind. I was sleeping, you see. Sitting there on my chair in a dance studio, asleep to the magic. But her voice and her dancing woke me up.

Beth Benge is a beautiful dancer. She has danced and choreographed all over the country. She loves jazz, and moves like a jazz dancer. Her smile lights up a room. Her laughter bubbles up from her soul. In spite of the fact that metastatic breast cancer keeps giving her brain tumors. In spite of the fact that the tumors and the treatment for them severed the connection between her mind and her body, forcing her to forge a re-connection out of sheer grit. Today Beth danced, and I got a rare gift from watching her. I got a reminder of possibilities. And of the effort it takes to make dreams come true.

Years ago I heard the quote, "If you think you can't, you are exactly right." It was the same idea as the usual inspirational quotes of the day. You know, the Little Engine Who Could type of saying on a coffee cup. We usually say it the other way, "If you think you can, you can." Yet today, watching Beth, I felt the power of the "can't" that sneaks into my thinking. I saw a woman dancing out there on the floor of a dance studio who would not let the "can't" stop her.

It is tempting to let obstacles have the last word. To let rejections from publishers eat into my resolve to write. It is tempting to think I'm too old to create a story, too overweight to dance, too whatever-whatever to work toward my dreams.

What can stop us from making our dreams come true? If it is the obstacles we encounter that cause us to give up, then that surrender is our choice. Want it badly enough? Don't stop working. Want it badly enough? Don't believe the self talk that you aren't good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, nice enough, talented enough, educated enough.

So you think you can dance/paint/write/become a brain surgeon? So you think you can start a business, learn French, get a degree in anthropology, cut a record? What you decide to be, who you decide to be; it is your choice. How much you are willing to pay to get there, how hard you are willing to work, that is your choice, too.

I will never forget today. I have filed it away under favorite experiences, to be taken out and examined whenever I want to blame someone or something else for my own giving up on things I want to accomplish. Not to shame myself. But to remind myself. I am the one who will keep working toward my dreams, or not. I want to be honest with myself. If I do say "I can't", then it will be my own voice I hear. 

Find Beth's website at Her mother, Milbe Benge is a wonderful painter and friends with Bunny Oliver, another woman I admire greatly. Bunny has inspired me for years with her art, her philanthropy and her spirit. They are both auctioning a painting to help Beth. Go to to see their work.

Beth thinks she can dance. And so she can. I'm grateful I saw her do it, grateful I heard her story. She helps me think I can.