Dancing Badly


I am a bad dancer.

But I love to dance.

My ex-wife used to make fun of my dancing all the time. Dad dancing at it’s most classic. After a time of being made fun of, I stopped. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I’ve come to understand it was just one of a million bad decisions I made during that place in our life.

You see, I danced out of joy, not to impress anyone. I could, and still can, lose myself in music. And cutting it out was cutting a joy from my life. I did that on a lot of things. Bad choices all.

I went a lot of years after my divorce not dancing. I can’t tell you why exactly. Coming back to yourself after trauma takes time and I guess that was just one of the things that got lost and took time to come back.

I can tell you the day it came back. I stumbled on the video of Mick Jagger and David Bowie singing Dancing in the Streets. I was working at my desk and suddenly, the music was so joyful I could not help myself. I got up and danced my way through the song. Abd the next one. And the next one.

I am glad no one was around. I am sure, after a few years away from it, my dancing was awkward and goofy, but it was unabandoned. And I don’t do much unabandoned.

I’ve been dancing ever since.

Normally I am alone. A song comes on when I am working and my feet get antsy. I just give in to it, get up, and dance. No one sees, but I feel good.

My wife, the woman I love, tells me she loves to see me dance. She is a woman who is careful with her words, so I am very aware that she never says “You’re a good dancer.” And that’s OK. I’m not.

What I am is, for the duration of a single song, joyful. And us depressed guys don’t get a lot of joy. I suspect what she loves is just that, seeing the joy.

This is something I’ve seen or heard about in lots of people. They love something and then people put it down, make fun of it, denigrate it because it’s not perfect. We do it to our kids, our co-workers, our spouses, family members. Somehow, if we can’t do something perfectly, we are told, it’s not worth doing.

Screw that.

I’ve made that mistake in my own life. And mistake it was. I robbed myself of joy because to someone who was better at it than me (My ex-wife actually was a pretty good dancer) put me down. That was my choice, and it was a bad one.

I don’t care now if I am a gloriously bad dancer. I’ll dance. Let people talk. Let them laugh. I don’t care. I refuse, absolutely refuse, to let their opinion rob me of my joy again. I’ll make other mistakes, but not that one.

As I approach 64, I have a whole list of things I do anywhere from terribly to so-so, to good-not-great. And I will keep doing them. Because life doesn’t have enough joy.

And I need to claim every bit of it I can.

Be well. Travel wisely,


PS: Tom Petty is playing here in my favorite diner as I finish writing this. I am dancing in my seat. The cook is dancing by his grill and singing along. We look like a bad musical. But we’re having fun.

PSS – the picture was taken in Roanoke, Virginia, on the city market.

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