For the past year or two I’ve been living in a constant state of what if. I aimed high all throughout my high school years, but my trajectory was wrong and I ended up landing somewhere where I did not plan to be. Luckily, about at the time that my trajectory started going wrong, ballet came into my life. First, it was something just to fill my college resume.
At a time when I feel like nothing is worth it, I am glad ballet is worth it. Every measure of music, every tendue, every grand battement are worth it.
Reading the blogs of more seasoned adult dancers, I have begun to dream of the possibility of having a life in dance. Not the professional kind, of course. My view of reality is not yet that distorted.
I feel like a part of me has been cheated in some way. I did want to dance all throughout my childhood, but for reasons related to me and for other reasons far out of my control, I was never able to. I know, I know. There are tragedies far worse than not being to dance as a child. I would have never made it in the professional world. And dance does not owe anything to anyone, least of all to someone like me.
Now that I’m nearing a kind of conclusion of my sheltered childhood, I look at the choices I have made. I’m fortunate enough to be able to go to college. That I am grateful for every day. Yet, I sometimes wonder if this is really what I want and not what other people think I should want. Every morning I drink my coffee while looking at pictures of stockbrokers ripping through their ever thinning hair. That same hair has yet to recover from the massive amount of ripping that took place in October 2008. And I wonder if four, five years from now on, I’ll be sitting with the same blank expression at some cubicle counting hours before I can go and sit some more in front of a TV set.
Will I do a disservice to myself by making my life about dance? Sure, I will need to get a day job. Anything that will pay for a small apartment somewhere in a big city with good dance opportunities. Somewhere where I can sit at night and listen to the sounds of city, taking in the millions of lonely hearts running somewhere, to all the meaningless places. I don’t know. I feel like I need to apologise in advance to my parents, because I’ll never become the successful doctor/lawyer/[insert some high status paying profession here]. I want to have a simple job so that I pursue my dream, my crazy dream. I want to dance.
Maybe I should even drop out of college, and save my family and myself from financial distress. Because, paraphrasing Mr. Jobs, you can’t connect the points looking forwards, you can only connect the points looking backwards. Yet for someone who has neither the vision nor the talent of Mr. Jobs, dropping out is not the safe way to go.
Yet the idea will not leave me alone. I feel like I have nothing to lose. A few weeks ago, I saw the following quote by Merce Cunningham on a poster.
“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.
In an era, where numbers – whether the GPA on your college transcript or the number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers one has is the measure of a woman/man- will that moment of being alive be enough, I wonder.