Hard Times Require Furious Dancing

Alice Walker

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Awakin FeatureI am the youngest of eight siblings. Five of us have died. I share losses, health concerns, and other challenges common to the human condition, especially in these times of war, poverty, environmental devastation, and greed that are quite beyond the most creative imagination. Sometimes it all feels a bit too much to bear. Once a person of periodic deep depressions, a sign of mental suffering in my family that affected each sibling differently, I have matured into someone I never dreamed I would become: an unbridled optimist who sees the glass as always full of something. It may be half full of water, precious in itself, but in the other half there’s a rainbow that could exist only in the vacant space.

I have learned to dance.

It isn’t that I didn’t know how to dance before; everyone in my community knew how to dance, even those with several left feet. I just didn’t know how basic it is for maintaining balance. That Africans are always dancing (in their ceremonies and rituals) shows an awareness of this. It struck me one day, while dancing, that the marvelous moves African Americans are famous for on the dance floor came about because the dancers, especially in the old days, were contorting away various knots of stress. Some of the lower-back movements handed down to us that have seemed merely sensual were no doubt created after a day’s work bending over a plow or hoe on a slave driver’s plantation.

Wishing to honor the role of dance in the healing of families, communities, and nations, I hired a local hall and a local band and invited friends and family from near and far to come together, on Thanksgiving, to dance our sorrows away, or at least to integrate them more smoothly into our daily existence. The next generation of my family, mourning the recent death of a mother, my sister-in-law, created a spirited line dance that assured me that, though we have all encountered our share of grief and troubles, we can still hold the line of beauty, form, and beat — no small accomplishment in a world as challenging as this one.

Hard times require furious dancing. Each of us is the proof.

Alice Walker is a Pulitzer-winning author, poet, novelist, and activist. The passage above is from the preface of her book of poems: "Hard Times Require Furious Dancing".

Seed questions for reflection: What does learning to dance mean to you? Can you share a personal story of a time when you held the line of beauty, form and beat through grief and troubles? What helps you stay aware of your balance so you can maintain it?

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10 Previous Reflections:

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    On Sep 11, 2019 Kristy wrote:
    I love this essay. I dance almost every morning it centers, energizes, awakens and brings me hope and gratitude for the fact that I get one more day to be of service to the greater good.

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    On Sep 11, 2019 RUBY wrote:
    Life cannot be joyful all the time. Suffering and pain is unavoidable. I try to dance away my misfortunes. It is equally rewarding to experience losses. I grow, become deeper in perspective, appreciate the paradoxes, and become complete. I am fearless, courageous to have transitioned from a man into a beautiful women. I have lived in luxury, as well as slept in the mountains without a blanket in freezing cold, crying to God is that all the suffering there is? Having lived as a man, now as a woman, I discriminate against none, I am like God, I have a complete experience of a life and a person in many and any form!. Unlike others, I am not going to die with half experience. In the process, I have come to understand society the best since it has to treat me in new ways they never understand! Some get deeply enlightened and inspired to broaden their own existence before they perish = they are ready to dance. Some run away in hate, animosity, or to protect their squirrel hole because it is ... [View Full Comment] Life cannot be joyful all the time. Suffering and pain is unavoidable. I try to dance away my misfortunes. It is equally rewarding to experience losses. I grow, become deeper in perspective, appreciate the paradoxes, and become complete. I am fearless, courageous to have transitioned from a man into a beautiful women. I have lived in luxury, as well as slept in the mountains without a blanket in freezing cold, crying to God is that all the suffering there is? Having lived as a man, now as a woman, I discriminate against none, I am like God, I have a complete experience of a life and a person in many and any form!. Unlike others, I am not going to die with half experience. In the process, I have come to understand society the best since it has to treat me in new ways they never understand! Some get deeply enlightened and inspired to broaden their own existence before they perish = they are ready to dance. Some run away in hate, animosity, or to protect their squirrel hole because it is too challenging to their preset minds. I leave my genes behind. The old backward world is going away, and the 5G technology society is shaping. So dance and welcome it.[Hide Full Comment]

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    On Sep 10, 2019 Wendy wrote:
    Thank you Missy❣️

    1 reply: Cmann | Post Your Reply
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    On Sep 10, 2019 Susan Starkey wrote:
    So true! My brother-in-law and I were just talking minutes ago ( a nice synchronicity ) about the joy of connecting with a stranger on the dance floor and having the flow of it all lift everyone’s spirits. I need this message today as I realize I’m in a place of mourning- for the future of Earth and all her inhabitants, and I realize I want to learn to live in acceptance of this reality. So- I’ve Gotta go- gotta Dance now!

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    On Sep 10, 2019 jacqueline wrote:
    Dancing silences the minds constant chattering - it’s a kind of meditation. Learning to dance improves focus, posture, energy levels plus the ability to be in the moment.

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    On Sep 8, 2019 David Doane wrote:
    The glass is always full of something, and the value of what's there is defined by the glass holder. Learning to dance means learning to be in the present, enjoy the process, be ongoingly responsive to what is happening, not be goal directed, and not worry about what others think. When a dear mentor died, I had a dream in which he gave me a master program -- in the dream someone tried to take it back and I held onto it. What I got from him was a master program, and much of what I learned from him about living has helped me hold the line of beauty, form and beat through the ups and downs of life. Factors that help me stay aware of my balance include knowing how good balance feels, knowing that balance is moment by moment, knowing how easily balance is lost, knowing that maintaining balance requires constant adjustment, knowing that I don't enjoy loss of balance.

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    On Sep 6, 2019 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    Life is a balancing act. It's like a string of a string instrument. If you stretch it too hard, it will break. If you keep it too lose, it will not make a sound. Like all of us I have felt thousands of joys and thousands of sorrows; thousands of ups and thousands of downs. I have learned the art of being mindful of the swings of energy I am experiencing in my body and mind, acknowledge it and flow with it without getting stuck with it or frozen by it. In the Yoga system is called Samatva Yoga- Path of Equanimity. We all go through different kinds of losses. There are times when I have found them too muchto bear. When I saw my parents, brothers and sisters passing away right in front of my eyes, it was very hard for me to maintain the equanimity and balance. Each passing away has taught me to be aware of the gifts each one of them had given to me from their heart. Holding such precious gifts of love in my heart and feeling grateful to them have enriched my life with love, joy and g... [View Full Comment] Life is a balancing act. It's like a string of a string instrument. If you stretch it too hard, it will break. If you keep it too lose, it will not make a sound. Like all of us I have felt thousands of joys and thousands of sorrows; thousands of ups and thousands of downs. I have learned the art of being mindful of the swings of energy I am experiencing in my body and mind, acknowledge it and flow with it without getting stuck with it or frozen by it. In the Yoga system is called Samatva Yoga- Path of Equanimity.

    We all go through different kinds of losses. There are times when I have found them too muchto bear. When I saw my parents, brothers and sisters passing away right in front of my eyes, it was very hard for me to maintain the equanimity and balance. Each passing away has taught me to
    be aware of the gifts each one of them had given to me from their heart. Holding such precious gifts of love in my heart and feeling grateful to them have enriched my life with love, joy and gratefulness.

    Mindfulness is a nonjudgmental existential awareness of what's happening in me. Such awareness helps me to create and sustain balance in my life. It keeps my mind awake. With practice I have been able to cultivate such mind set. There are times when I "go to sleep" and act mindlessly. These are challenging times. I have learned to face them boldly. I agree with Alice Walker when she says, "Such hard times rquirefurious dancing."











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    2 replies: Jo, Michael | Post Your Reply

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