Wednesday, September 26, 2007

thoughts and The Tango

so I feel like I had something super good to say, a great post was being brainstormed in my head, but it has left me. However, my dad sent me this great thought today from Robert Fulghum. This is part four of His Tango Chronicles. It's totally worth it to go and read the rest of them, I really liked them! Visit his site here, and enjoy this article, I know I did!


“So, what’s new with Tango - you haven’t said much lately. Given up?”

Question from a friend. Not an unreasonable inquiry. But my silence is that
of one who has made it across the shaky Bridge of Beginning to the solid
ground of confidence where continuing on is possible. I have moved from “Can
I do it? to “This can be done.”

“Less talk - more Tango.” is my motto. Shut up and dance.

I’m encouraged by an article my Tango teacher gave me. It’s about the axiom
of “Use It or Lose It” in reference to an aging mind. In studies of mental
and physical activities that reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s
disease, the most successful was social dancing. Learning a new dance and
dancing four times a week reduced the risk of mental atrophy by 76%. And
Tango was judged the most challenging.

Why? Dancing simultaneously engages the mind, the body, and the musical and
emotional processes. Making split-second decisions using all your faculties
seems to be the key. It doesn’t hurt that you’re doing it while all dressed
up, out in the world, surrounded by people, having a good time.

When people say, “Tango? At your age? Have lost your mind?”

I can answer, “No, and I don’t intend to.”

Often I ask others, “Do you dance?”

It saddens me when they reply they cannot.


“I look like an idiot on a dance floor.” or “I’m just not a dancer.”

My neighbor is one of these. He does not dance.

He is 30 years old, in great shape, 6 feet 4 inches, 220 lbs., an ex
football star and two-time state heavyweight wrestling champion. A law
degree, and an MBA from Stanford. Nimble in body and mind.

He watches me go out at night. He knows where I’m going. But he ignores me.
His wife would like it if he would take her out dancing. But he’s not going.
He says he cannot dance. He would be embarrassed to try.

I said to him, “Let me get this straight. You mean you used to dress up in a
set of tights I wouldn’t wear to a Gay Pride parade, and get out in the
middle of a gym on the floor with another guy - one you don’t even know -
and get all wrapped up and sweaty with him in an intense embrace, while a
couple of thousand people screamed at you, but it would embarrass you to put
on a suit and tie and take your wife to a nightclub, hold her close, and
move around in the dark to music? ARE YOU CRAZY?”

He doesn’t want to talk about it. He knows I have him in a mental hold and
could take him down two falls out of three with this line of thinking. He’s
avoiding me now. And his wife is driving him crazy for being a chicken.

"If that old man can do it, why can't you?” My neighbor thinks that dancing
is a natural gift - something you’re either born with or not. And he’s not.

Once-upon-a-time I taught drawing and painting in a high school. My favorite
class was called “Art For Turkeys” because it was for those students who
thought they had no artistic talent, could not draw, but wished they could.
I promised I could teach them to draw - i.e. be able to report with a line
on paper an image of what they perceived.

In truth, I did not teach them to draw. I taught them to see.

Once they gave up their mental preconceptions of what the world looked like
and saw the world as it is, they could draw. Learning to See takes time and
effort, to be sure. But it can be done. All of the students could draw.

And once they gave up their image of themselves as those who had no art in
them they began to see their lives as their art. Dancing is like this. It
means giving up an untruth about yourself. To see yourself in a new light.

If I had my life to life over, I would teach dancing. Or better said, I
would teach people to see themselves as dancers - to recognize and employ
the dance within them - in tune with the beat of their hearts, the pulse of
their blood, the music in their minds. Human beings are hard-wired to dance.

It’s a natural thing to do. More natural than golf or tennis or any sport.
We are programmed to do it - all it takes is lessons and practice - like
yoga or Tai-Chi or meditation - just faster.

The secret to learning these things later in life is “Beginner’s Mind.”

An attitude that says “I don’t know - yet - but I can still learn.”

So the correct question is not, “Can you dance?”

The question is, “Can you still learn?”

If you can - take dance lessons.

And if you can’t, then you’re probably going out of your mind.

Sooner rather than later.

About the Author:
Robert Fulghum is a writer, philosopher, and public speaker, but he has also
worked as a cowboy, a folksinger, an IBM salesman, a professional artist, a
parish minister, a bartender, a teacher of drawing and painting, and a
father. All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten has inspired
numerous theater pieces that have captivated audiences across the country.
Fulghum is also the author of many New York Times bestsellers, including It
Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It, Uh-Oh, and Maybe (Maybe Not), as well as
two plays: All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and Uh-Oh,
Here Comes Christmas. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Copyright © Robert Fulghum.


Olympus said...

That is rad.