This weekend I had the pleasure of attending two performances.
On Friday night, I hopped over to Hamlin Park Fieldhouse for the super sold out dance pieceA Place At The Edge Of The World To Call Our Own by RE|Dance Group. Honestly, I was feeling a bit introverted and hoping I wouldn't run into anyone I knew. I really wanted to see the piece, but I was hoping for a private experience (well, as private as you can get when you're in an audience with rows and rows of other people.)
From the moment I sat down, I was invited in.
I don't know if it was the particular mood of the pre-show music or the twinkle lights hanging from above, but slowly and surely I slid into this new experience.
By the time the dancing began I had arrived in a place where pain unravels and joy expands. Where folk dances and clubbing and dancing in front of the mirror in your bedroom are all cause for celebration (and common events). There was authentic tenderness and honest nostalgia. It was lovely. And touching. And also silly and playful. (I was either crying or laughing for most of the show.)
If I paid close enough attention, I could see the uniqueness of each dancer. But if I paid even closer attention, the beauty of their commonalities and unity were revealed.
I was curious and overwhelmed by lots of different movement happening all at once, and then calmed and deeply satisfied in the rare moments where everyone came together as one. A movement of movement.
I witnessed moments of strength and independence and vulnerability and loneliness.
My expectations were destroyed when what I thought would be light and lifted turned out to be low and grounded. I went on a picnic and hung out with my friends.
I felt myself bracing for the end. And then feeling a wave of relief and gratitude that there was a little more to enjoy.
And I thought, this is life. This is all of the love and heartache and joy and disappointment and all of the things that make life the beautiful, heartbreaking, exhilarating experience that it is.
When the show ended, I zipped out pretty quickly and was grateful for the brisk, winter air and the time to absorb & process the piece. Because an experience like that deserved some stillness afterwards, instead of me rushing into the next thing.
By Saturday night my mood had shifted. My husband and I headed out for date night at Uncommon Ground to see my friend Natalie Myre perform with her friend Erika Mac. The evening was a combination of great music, great conversation and great food.
Natalie opened with an old song and then a new song and I sat stunned thinking, it takes serious guts to bear your soul like that. Each song seemed to tackle a big life experience - love, heartbreak, fear, understanding, self doubt, the ability to rise above - with humor sprinkled throughout. Again with the tears… and the laughter.
If I didn't know better I'd have suspicions that RE|Dance and Natalie were chatting with each other about how to align their performances, colluding about overlapping themes. They didn't.
But that's the power of art and creativity. It takes the stuff of life, stands up and announces "This is who I am. This is how I feel. This is my experience. Now make something out of me."
And when beautiful people (whether super skilled at their craft like RE|Dance and Natalie and Erika or amateurs in a beginning storytelling class) make things, the voice in our heads whispering "You're alone. No one else feels this way. You should withdraw from society because you. Do. Not. Belong." - well, that voice gets quieter.
Our experiences, though the details may differ, their essence is universal.
So I hope you will listen to music and make music. Dance it out and go watch others do the same. Be brave with your stories. See everyone you meet as the special snowflake they are and acknowledge every thread that links you together. Allow your creativity and your journey to bring you closer to others. Remember: You belong.
How has art strengthened your sense of community? Pop on over to the Soul Centered Facebook group and share your story.