This I Believe

Rebecca - Fairfield, Iowa
Entered on September 5, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

The Cosmic Dance

The expression “to dance with joy” shapes my philosophy about life. I believe we are here to enjoy, and I believe in dancing through life. There are innumerable ways to traverse the dance-floor of life. We move through the world in varying postures, speeds, and rhythms. However, I have found that remaining in the scintillating stillness of inner silence is what makes the dance of life truly joyful and meaningful.

Quite literally, I have danced through my life. As soon as I could stand, I swayed, and as soon as I could walk, I whirled. By the age of four I enrolled in ballet class, and my childhood was spent in leotard and tights performing daily disciplined routines. Over the years I studied jazz, modern, African, Indian, improvisational, and ballroom dance, enjoying the variety of styles that gave structure to an unbounded range of movement. Dance was physically rigorous but spiritually effortless, and the music of my soul flowed through my limbs. I was like a witness delighting in the suspension and stillness infusing my motion. The more I let go, the more my control. The softer my command, the more my body obeyed.

Quite literally, I have meditated through my life. I started in my Mother’s womb. By the age of four I was meditating on my own, repeating a mantra and transcending activity to unfold my inner silence. The ancient Vedic Texts of India prescribe meditation for skill in action. One should be established in Yoga, and then act, they say. Meditation gives me a peaceful center, enlivening my inner unbounded field of consciousness, setting the stage for successful action.

A few weeks ago, as my Grandad’s health quickly declined, my family convened at his side. He was a great man, an artist who lived a full and passionate life. In his presence, one felt this fullness. His room was thick with peace, silence, and swelling emotions of tenderness and love. Although his tall frame was emaciated he maintained a kingly air. Laying half naked on the bed he resembled the Pieta or a figure painted by El Greco. Partially paralyzed but fully alert, he managed to blow kisses, squeeze our hands, and speak in breathy whispers. We massaged him, read, sang, played instruments, and meditated for hours at his side.

I will never forget my Grandad’s daily exercises. His daughters each lifted one of his long, thin limbs. Slowly they made circles in the air, extending and contracting his muscles. Half in this world, half in the next, his declining body wheeled fluidly. Surrendering to the transition, he had become the total embodiment of spirit, that which never dies. This final dance of my Grandad’s was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, and fully encapsulated my philosophy of life. He had led a spirited, meaningful life, met ups and downs with patience and regality, and now, even in his final hours he moved with grace and his eyes twinkled with joy and love.