I hardly know how to contain the feeling. When I'm in front of 20 people and we're all trying to figure each other out, and I can explain something and it's crisp and real and makes sense - that's the feeling I seek.
Aren't we always looking for that connection? We want to understand each other - it's basic human nature. As the teacher, I have to watch the way they dance and figure out the qustions they have but don't know how to verbalize. They don't have the experience to know what it should feel like, or what works better. So then where's the satisfaction? I think it's in knowing that you helped them to achieve something, to master something. And it doesn't hurt to be a little goofy too, just to get a little surprise laugh out of them.
I also love that so many of the students I'm teaching are younger. They're still so fresh and hopeful, so many weeks ahead of them still. They're just on the cusp of discovering love, passion, investment in life. And while a part of me wishes I was still in that stage, there's a stronger urge in me that looks ahead, understands how their new experiences sharpen the way I create my own situation. Sometimes I look at one or another of them, and am already in love. What's your story? I long to ask. What do you want to be, where do you go when you're happy? What makes you want to dance, throw your limbs wild and free, or come to my class and step 1-2-3 to Whitney Houston?
And I think, to them I'm just the dance teacher. To me they're just as complete as I am. And we come together, just once a week, to share a little something with each other. To teach something to each other.
And when I'm down, dance almost always makes it better. In the perfect world, I would always come out of a dance lesson - whether I'm the one teaching or the one learning - feeling like I've reached an understanding with another dancer, with the instructor, with my students. When I feel like I've just talked AT them, and not to them, that's where I fail.
Yesterday I think was a turning point for me. Not having those morning classes really gave me a renewed sense of purpose. Vaguely guilty that I didn't partake in MLK day events, yes, but also confident in the fact that I was working on my own greater cause. I decided yesterday that I needed to try to engage myself more in my classes. I've been so unhappy with them for the past two quarters, but I need to understand what I want out of them. And even though they're secondary to my major project this quarter - organizing a competition for Northwestern University - they're still the reason I'm here, and time is slipping ever faster.
Sitting here, I feel once again that I am at the edge of things. Changes approach me, and I blend them into what I am. I think back on a half-year ago, a year ago, and remember that sense of courage and energy. It's so hard to keep that going sometimes. Some days it all falls down on me, and I wonder why I can't love, why my smiles seem tired, why I can't just BE happy. But then I close my eyes, and every sense in my body awakens. The sensation of metal or fabric under my fingers, the bittersweetness of tea over my tongue, voices melodious and intent in the kitchen - its every bit sensual, everything that makes up being. It pushes away the depression and when I rise again, I find that there is only strength and power left.