Close the eve of this past Valentine’s Day and after exhilarating and thrilling fun at a Methodist Church about 30 minutes north from me, I wrote out a check to enroll in Square Dancing class. I cannot even recall the last time I enrolled in any class and was in the active student learning mode, completely dependent on experts to teach and guide me along. I did not miss being a student and, contrary to popular belief and surface appearance, I am not an academic embracer. Then again, I always said and believed that I was a student of life and that we learn something new every single day more so from life experiences than sitting in a classroom listening to lectures.
Every Monday night for an hour, I would dance. For as long as I could remember, I have always loved to dance. Even when the pain was really bad with my body that felt so broken before my hip replacement, I loved to and would be the first one to get up and dance. However, my idea of dancing was the move freely without formal steps and lessons and to the rhythm and beat of the music. The music would guide and teach me. I would move with the music. After my hip replacement, I embraced dancing even more by taking Zumba and even Line Dancing briefly. I have always been so full of humbled gratitude for movement and even more so after my hip replacement surgery. You never realize how bad your body or really how anything was until you are pain free and until you no longer have the weight of whatever was troubling you weighing you down. You only understand the great gift that our bodies and just moving is when you can actually physically do it that frees you emotionally and mentally.
I never laughed so hard and so much until I did square dancing. Some of the other members nicknamed me “The Giggler.” I laughed so hard that my stomach would hurt and tears of joy would roll down my face, and people exclaimed to me: “You are having way too much fun!” If only they knew that there is never such a thing as TOO much fun in this one life that can often be much too serious. I loved Square Dancing for many reasons that went beyond the dance moves because you learned about the power of listening over talking, trusting complete strangers until they became familiar faces, and, above all else you—you were never alone. There was always someone right next to you with a hand to hold right or multiple hands to grasp on to in complete faith that you would all complete these steps together.
Then, disaster struck with nausea and dizziness after one too many circular movements. Since my latest surgery that cut into my abdomen yet again, my nausea has worsened significantly. The nausea will come on suddenly and sharply. I literally feel like my body and the world is shutting down around me. My previous transplant doctor says my blood pressure runs low and he thinks these nauseous and dizzy episodes are my blood pressure dropping or dehydration. Through a dizzying haze, I heard many of the members call upon me to get up and dance. I felt like I was going to pass out and weakly joked: “I feel sick. I do not think you want me puking on you.” I purposefully waited for the twang Country music to start so all the dancers could dance and I could slip out quietly to collect myself and before I started crying out of physical and emotional exhaustion. Before anyone could see me, I left. I did not want them to see me at my worst. I did not want them to comfort me. I wanted to be alone. I wanted them to see me at my best, even though, I knew as the ultimate worst critic of myself that my best was not good enough this time around and that my body could never keep up with my brain.
That night and into the next day, a couple people from the Square Dancing class checked in on me if I was okay. I explained to the presidents and to a very dear member that I kindly had to bow out. My body has always spoken loud, and I always listen to it even louder. As usual, people do not know what to say (I am guilty of this to), so I say to them: “I do not expect you or anyone to know or what to say. If it weren’t for my hip replacement, I would not even have been able to take this class. So, how can I be sad when I am just grateful? I always focus on what I can do and not on what I cannot do, because I have done my best and the best is yet to come.”
My father had recently said to me that he always wants people to remember him at his best. I am just like my dad in this sentiment, but as the ultimate student of life, I am understanding that we may want to be remembered for our best but it is the worst that is the most vital that builds us to our best. We think of the ‘best’ as ‘that is it,’ but I am learning that there is always a work in progress and it is about ‘being better’ and not ‘the best.’
Do you always want to show your best? When have you been at you worst that has led to your best? When have you done your best only to realize and understand that your best is not good enough? Do you remembered for your best?