Perhaps, then, you should forget everything I have said to you and remember only this: The real beauty in life is that beauty can sometimes occur.
- Dancer Colum McCann
We took the long way home last week. After a flurry of errands, exhausted with sweat dripping from the various crevices it stemmed from, we retired to silence in the presence of Beres Hammond. My reaction to the raspy tone I had become accustomed to over the years took me by surprise as I felt a red flush adorn my cheeks and a knot of anger swell in my gut. The joyful music that had once reminded me of the vibrancy of his face as well as the presence of the Caribbean sea, and the tranquility or volatility that each possesses at any given time, was now tarnished by the space he left behind for the umpteenth time. I began to cry silently as Mom bobbed her head, no doubt thinking of how they fell in love. The little bit of his island that he carried with him wherever he went, made reggae convey as vivid a portrait of him as a photograph.
Having just started dancing again after a 2 year hiatus, I have rediscovered a passion that was long buried under layers of politics, competition, and ego. My reunion with the art has serendipitously coincided with my starting the book Dancer by Colum McCann, a novelist's account of the life of Rudolf Nureyev, a story that, like many of famous dancers, is one of the torturous and seldom achieved desire for perfection.
As I stood across from her, slim bodied, flawless complexion, professional manner, bilingual, I felt myself stifling a frown that not only crept onto my face, but into my body as well. I began to fidget as I watched her effortlessly speak to people as I struggled to understand. My mother's voice rang in my head, singing her praises and I was beginning to see why. She owned all of the attributes I didn't, the ones mom so fervently begged I gain: confidence, togetherness, organization, assertiveness. I thought on her all night, after learning that she was, among other things, a ballerina, actress, bass guitarist, newlywed, and I found myself falling into old patterns of needing her to be flawed to boost my own confidence, the only difference being that I was now conscious of my devilish efforts, which made it feel even worse.
The common thread uniting these experiences is an ever present need for forgiveness, something my being has been lacking a long while. To forgive others and myself for our flaws, and allow for the misgivings as well as greatness, is something to be achieved. To recognize that perfection doesn't exist and even beauty and happiness is fleeting, for if it weren't, it's significance would be lessened greatly. More than anything, to acknowledge that forgiveness is a necessary first step to forward movement of any kind. The next is allowing forgiveness to chisel away at the chip on my shoulder, an accumulative cinder block of dance teachers' comments, harsh words from Davis and Keikai, and years of a monologue of self doubt, and for now, that's what I'm working at.