Have you ever watched eagles dancing in the sky? Soaring and dipping, or effortlessly gliding atop the thermals. Or followed as leaves prance on the invisible fingers of a breeze, spirited upwards by autumn winds.
Both are beautiful spectacles, beautiful dances, ordained by nature.
Today I watched a different dance. I was the accidental spectator of a woman whose dance was every bit as beautiful. So much so, I found myself unable to turn my eyes away. My heart was drawn as much towards the woman as to her dance. I was struck by her commitment to it, her devotion to moving through it precisely, determined to move through each part as gracefully and effectively as she could.
This dance unfolded across the street and right in front of me. I had time. Our large storefront windows were the open curtains to her stage which only moments before served as a parking lot.
She didn’t soar, or dip, as the eagles had. And unlike the leaves, she didn’t prance or float. Rather she moved with a learned agreement between certainty and caution.
Her driver’s door opened but she didn’t get out. Not right away. Not like you and I would have. We would have hopped out, shut the door, aimed the “lock” button and been headed inside before the chirp faded from the lot. Our dance would have been over before it began. None would have noticed. None would have cared.
But today, without understanding why, I cared. I cared about her dance.
She sat. For a second. Then with her hands, she pivoted and ushered her legs out the door, letting her feet land, puppet like, on the pavement. The next move was magnificent. She reached and twisted around to her left to place her hands on the door post, then on the passenger window. Still moving purposefully, she hand-walked her way up the side window to grant her feet room to shuffle back under her for support. The dance continued with the dancer retrieving a prop from the backseat. The two of them began moving in concert; a lift here, a pull there, a familiar reliance on each other until, snap, the prop was in place.
Pausing for only the blink of a breath, the dance moved onto its next act. Dancer and prop shuffled in practiced syncopation to close the back door, retrieve some items from the front, relocate her feet, then dance their way towards the door of the office.
Remember our leaf. Picture it now as it lifts into the air from a quick gust of wind, dances a bit, then hangs there for just a moment. Simultaneously it gives us pause and takes our breath away; lingering no longer than necessary before spinning back into its windswept dance and then away, out of sight.
Such was her final scene. Rolling her prop forward, she’d pause long enough for her feet to catch up. Another roll, another pause, another shuffle-step closer. Repeat. Roll. Shuffle. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat again. And again. Steadily, with practiced steps of habit, and a grace borne of determination, she danced her way toward the door.
Finding no ramp, she negotiated a curb, then a step. The dancer, pushing her walker, reached the door.
This was her beauty. The dance. The movement she performs dozens of times everyday, countless times over a lifetime. At home. Getting ready. At work. With family. Out with friends. She has time because she makes time. She makes time because she needs time.
And that’s when I saw it! That’s when I understood why her dance mesmerized me so. It was about TIME. She did NOT need time. She was unconcerned with time. She was not bound by time. In her movements, there was no rush. There was no hurry. There was no urgency of time.
Like the eagles and the leaves, she simply moved with her body as nature prescribed; patiently, attentively, presently. This was her beauty. Her absence of hurry. Her model of contentment, literally taking one step at a time, honoring the step, ignoring the time; just like the eagles, soaring, because that's what nature asks of them; just like the leaf, prancing, because that’s what the wind asks of it.
Unaware of my gaze, she achieved the pinnacle of her dance before me; the top step and an open door. Someone had come to assist her, to hold the door. Warmly placing a hand on her back, she guided the dancer and her walker into the building. The door closed just before the curtain of my tears brought this act to a close.
The only time she needed was the Time to Dance.
CHECK OUT The Bottom Turtle ~For musings from Dave on how to Love More and Judge Less link to his new book.