Wednesday, 30 September 2015 14:08

My autumn dance with Dylan Thomas

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Autumn is here. The leaves turn golden red and yellow, beckoning us to notice their beauty once more before they let go and release, surrendering to the ground.


Fall’s bounty is among us. Crops and gardens harvested. Fields cleared. Work done. We let go, release, and share. The effort and energy spent to seed, tend, grow and harvest our dreams. Then before we know it our dreams burst forth, emerge with great glory and we let them go. We then emerge into something new.
I stand inside the middle of a circle of seniors at a local care centre. They sit in chairs. Next to walkers and care aides. We listen to music. We talk. We smile. We dance. Moving our arms and feet to the rhythm and beat. I am guiding them through a modified Zumba class.
Twice a month, I arrive and they are already gathered in a circle waiting for me. Some remember my name, others don’t. Some know why they are there, others don’t. And in every circle, miracles show up, movement occurs and smiles arrive.
This past week I was struck by the power of aging. We are all aging. We are all dying  — just like the leaves that turn golden red and yellow. We beckon others to notice our beauty. As we age, we often get ignored, get mistreated, or appear incapable or invisible, but not here. Not in this circle. All are welcomed and all are seen. Whether you walk in on your own two feet or are wheeled in. Whether you remember your name or have forgotten it all. However you arrive is enough. Come as you are and leave feeling happier and well.
My aging miracle this week: She often forgets her name and always asks me mine. She often doesn’t know where she is and repeats the same question on a “wondering loop”. She often sits in the circle — eyes faded out — looking through you and seeking the space beyond. Today a shift and miracle arrives. Third song in the playlist her feet begin to tap and move to the beat. She looks at me, not through me. She stands up quickly as if the urge to dance and move is upon her. She is standing and dancing. I move towards her in my own rhythm and dance. “Hello,” I say. “Hello,” she says, looking right in my eyes. We are dancing together. Everyone else is tapping their toes and moving their hands while they sit in their chairs and walkers, but she chooses to stand. She chooses to dance — both feet in — full on. Soon our hands are clapping together as our bodies sway to the rhythm of the dance. She has arrived. She is here. She is dancing; dancing against the dying of the night.
And the words of Dylan Thomas come into me and fill me up: “Rage rage against the dying of the night. Do not go gentle into that good night.”
We are all dying, but what if we did not go gentle into that good night. What if we let our brilliant orange and golden yellow hues shine until the last breath and the wind carried us away? What if our joys and rhythms moved us even into death? Then we would all be dancing. “We are dancing. We are dancing. We are dancing,” we would cry.
Not one moment would be spent in regret because we would simply be dancing to the inner rhythm of our own joy. Don’t wait until you can no longer dance to dance. Don’t wait until you forget your song to sing. Don’t wait. Rage against the dying of the night. Each day is an opportunity to dance and let your wild brilliant golds and reds and yellows shine. So shine on. Rage on. Dance on.
I am about to do just that. Put on my shoes, get my coat and dance with my dog in the golden autumn red and yellow leaves welcoming the brilliance of this day. Today I choose to rage against the dying of the night.
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