Friday, August 08, 2008

i stopped dreaming when...

How would you complete the statement: I stopped dreaming when… Have you ever considered that? Considered even what your dreams are? Or do you live in a closed off or fearful place where dreaming seems frivolous and unproductive? Do you perhaps consider that if you were to share your dreams with another that they might be met with ridicule and thus the dreams snatched out of your realm or buried deeper inside your psyche?

“I stopped dreaming when…” is part of an exercise I have participated in dozens of times. The goal is to just let the words flow and find their rhythm until you stop thinking about what you are saying. For many sessions the things that popped out of my mouth were based on childhood experiences that gradually moved upward through my adult years. And then several months ago, I was demonstrating this process and out popped “I stopped dreaming when I couldn’t dance.”

These words came out with a ferocity that surprised both the partner with whom I was working and especially me (probably me more so, because I had no clue from where they came.) Today, I started to write “while I have always enjoyed dancing” and then realized that is not really true. I thought I wanted to tap dance when I was about 5, but I think that was more a product of my mother’s urging. I did, however, really love the shiny black shoes with the wonderful clicking heels. I quickly decided though that I much preferred staying home to watch “The Three Stooges” and “Tarzan” on television over the discipline and embarrassment it took to learn the complicated steps in dance class.

I also grew up in the age where social dancing consisted of sock hops at which couples bobbed up and down to the beat of the music individually or else draped their arms around each other when the rhythm slowed enough to warrant closer contact. A neighborhood friend had aspirations to be a ballerina and occasionally worked with me to learn the five positions of her classical dance. I was never too sad when I couldn’t do them perfectly and definitely did not long for more time at the barre.

In middle school I made an embarrassing attempt to learn how to move and do a flip so I could try out for cheerleader. The results were near humiliating and I opted for cheering in the pep club instead of gyrating on the sidelines. Growing older I talked my first husband into a couple of “hustle” lessons, and later, my second into an evening of ballroom classes with other friends. Each time there was no lasting commitment and no lingering loss after the lessons stopped. I do, however, love a really great (and sometimes not so great) dance movie. My heart always sings when I watch the likes of “Dirty Dancing,” “Strictly Ballroom” or “Shall We Dance?”

All of this to say, I do not really consider the actual act of dancing to be what I was referring to in my exercise outburst. It feels bigger than dancing to me. It feels representative of something deep in my soul. It feels like a rhythm lost or possibly a dream or a gigantic culmination of loss. It feels like a loss that is sometimes too big for words. Even this writing feels really big for these pages. It does not feel despairing, but more like a mystery to be considered. It seems like much more to be explored which is exactly what I plan to do. In the meantime, however, I would love to know how you would finish this statement: I stopped dreaming when…

collage by lucy

7 comments:

Sue said...

I stopped dreaming when the bad thing happened and I knew ... somehow I just knew how to hide it. Isn't it amazing how nobody has to teach us the dynamics of shame? We just ingest it into our bones as we get on with the business of being a child.

Funny you should talk about dancing metaphorically. I have been thinking about the strange thing that has been going on with me over the past few months where I have broken into spontaneous dancing by myself in my lounge room, and felt like I could move smoother all of a sudden, and then the next day I would try dancing again and I would be back to the same clunkiness and self-consciousness that had me always sitting at the table in the pub while my girlfriends danced with each other in a circle with their handbags in he middle.

Wierd, huh?

Anyway, this post is so full of hope. I look forward with you to the discoveries :)

Anonymous said...

Great Post!!! I stopped dreaming when I internalized 'the rules'. Rules about right and wrong, what it means to be a success and what it means to be a failure. Rules about what it means to be good or be bad. And then four years ago in a 'castle' on top of a mountain I discovered grace and once again I am learning to dream!!! Thanks for accompanying me and so many others on this journey!!! Love, Pamela

Barbara said...

I suppose I stopped dreaming when I accepted my mother's teaching that I should never pretend to be better than I was. I interpreted that as a sentence of natural inferiority. My father's perfectionism ground that into me further. I have never quite recovered 100% from that and it has poisoned my dreams since then. I have done pretty well despite that, though, on a set of smaller dreams.

BTW, lucy, I hope you saw the original Japanese film Shall We Dance? It is wonderful and worth combing the video stores for it.

lucy said...

pondering your wonderful and thoughtful comments. i will return to respond a tiny bit later. thank you!!!

Sunrise Sister said...

Lucy, I love it when you're "in the mood" as the words do flow and I enjoy reading them very much!

As to the question, I would say "I stopped dreaming" recently when I took scissors, glues, scraps, board, paints and brushes out and seriously applied them to produce some very nice collages! Luckily for my dreams' sake and for my easily inflated ego, the urge to create has not been curtailed by much of anything. I've wanted to do this creative work for a LONG time and I just would not let myself go for it. It's a wonderful release of energy and creativity!

xoxoxo

lucy said...

sue--thank you for the vulnerability of your sharing. i have found that this statement "i stopped dreaming when..." usually has very instinctual responses. i hope you will keep dancing! it is evidently one of the ways to open the root chakra which is what all of those vines, etc. may be about in my next post. keep reading. we shall spur each other on!

pamela--oh that damn internalization of right and wrong! i know it well. (i think it fits right in there with the 'shame' that sue spoke of). and GRACE...ah, thank God for grace and for that castle and for you and the list goes on. i wonder if grace and gratitude have the same root?

oh barbara--it's never too late to stop being 'perfect' or to start realizing that you are perfect just the way you are!! i have much hope for you as you enter this new phase of life with time to explore and enjoy YOU!!

i will put the Japanese version on my list today!!!

lucy said...

SS-- i absolutely love how you have put a new spin on "i stopped dreaming when'!! you stopped the dreaming and put it into action. how fabulous is that?!??!??!? thanks for the inspiration and outstanding role modeling!!

xoxooxoxooxo