Saturday, September 3, 2022

“… a state of mind liable to melt into a minuet with other states of mind, and to find itself bowing, smiling, and giving place with polite facility.” — George Eliot, in Middlemarch

         These words of George Eliot exactly describe the dance my own ideas seem to do. My mind is like an old English ballroom where ideas warmly move among each other in a strange kind of sociability and easiness. Thoughts of delight glide beside thoughts of fear, and beliefs that bad times are looming hold hands with beliefs that a bright sky is always overhead if I would only look up. What’s especially interesting about this is that my thoughts can be so cordial to each other, like English lords and ladies letting their friendliness guide the flow of the dance. Perhaps if I would simply stand back and watch them, the thoughts that move through my mind might seem as graceful as the movements of eminent manor house guests. If I stopped trying to always rule and regulate them, and gave up getting in fights with them, I might be able to enjoy the pleasant movements of my thoughts, their stylish steps and swings.    

(said by Byron S., age 82)

"I don't know how to dance, but my words 
seem to dance effortlessly whenever I speak. 
They're instinctive dancers, these 
undomesticated words of mine 
that twirl and whirl, thousands 
each day, dancing around on their own 
inside me and then outside when I 
set them loose by speaking. And isn't it 
interesting that words live by their own laws,
though we like to think we command them? 
The store where I work is a wonderland 
of waltzing words when customers are there. 
They release their words and the words 
start frisking and frolicking around
and finding their own style of life, 
and I sometimes stand and listen and stare."

a scene from our walk at Bluff Point State Park (Groton, CT) this morning


We saw another stunning performance by the Boston Ballet yesterday, thanks, once again, to the generosity of Delycia’s son, Aaron. The dancing, as always, was spectacular to the point of being unbelievable. How human bodies can move with such precision and grace is a vast mystery to me, but it’s not just about bodies moving, but about a sweeping and somehow marvelous artistic creation. We truly saw great art made right before our eyes yesterday on the stage of the Opera House in Boston. The music was sometimes a mystery to me, but that mystery was part of the dazzle of the performance. I felt sort of awestruck for the entire two hours, like a three-year-old might feel when seeing a Ferris wheel in operation for the first time. I didn’t understand much of what I witnessed, but, like a child frozen in amazement at a carnival, I won’t soon forget any of it.

at the theater, mom and son, devoted students of ballet
after the performance, walking to the train station

+ + + + +

Delycia and I no longer go out for an evening of dancing, but actually, I guess we’re always dancing at home, in one way or another. Just walking around the house, just moving our legs in a free-flowing way, is a kind of dancing. A person confined to a wheelchair would marvel at the effortless, dance-like movements of our bodies as we walk from room to room. And in fact, our bodies are always dancing in other innumerable ways. Blood is streaming through us with the smoothness of a dance, all our cells are doing their innumerable duties with a tasteful tempo and elegance, our lungs are lifting and falling with the poise of dancers, and of course, our hearts are keeping a measured beat as they bring us gracefully around the ‘dance floor’ of each day.

+ + + + +

+ + + + +

From Thomas Merton:

“For the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness. The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyse them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity and despair. But it does not matter very much because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed we are in the midst of it and it is in the midst of us for it beats in our very blood whether we want it to or not. Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.”

+ + + + +

two happy young dancers

+ + + + +

“He capers, he dances, he has eyes of youth, he writes verses, he speaks holiday, he smells April and May.” — — Shakespeare, “The Merry Wives of Windsor”