No 06 Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury
Friday, February 9, 2018
Our best use of Time!
“We have failed to recognize our one great asset: time. A conscientous use of it could make us into something quite amazing.”
– Friedrich Schiller (1759 – 1805) German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright
The mastery of time for me comes through dancing. I’m 61. After 42 years of ballroom dancing my body hurts at times. Feet, back, shoulders. But when I am actually dancing, time stands still. When I dance I am healthy and my body does not hurt. When I’m dancing I do not age. Get this, I believe that when we continue to dance, that time reverses and we get younger. We become our best selves. We are young, slender, healthy, agile and happy again.
When you dance, not only does time stand still, but you are in the moment. Not worrying about tomorrow, what happened yesterday, where you are going after you finish dancing today. Dancing frees us from our cell phones, our computers, our calendars, our obligations, our fears, our failures and even the pressures of success.
When I was in my early 20’s and a new professional ballroom competitor, I would teach many students who were 30 to 50 years older than I was. They were accomplished, lovely dancers and beautiful people. Yet, I often heard them talk about their bodies. Fatigue, leg pain at night, surgeries, emotional challenges, family situations and just feeling “old” sometimes. Then, I remember how they were when they danced. They were healthy, happy, and complete. The pain of loss, separated families, illness, depression, and all worries would disappear when they danced.
Because I was young and invincible, I did not pay much attention to all that, I just kept their words in my heart. I just kept saying “Dance Harder!” Well now, after many surgeries, loss of partner, parents and friends, fatigue, and many challenges of my own, I recall their words. I am really now just like an Arthur Murray Student. When I teach a personal session, it is the happiest time of my day. I experience laughter, freedom, joy, and perfect health. I still dance so hard on lessons that even my sox are wet with perspiration!
Guess what? My students know how much I love the moments dancing with them and teaching them. I often say, “I’m so happy to be dancing with you. I can finally take a break from my work of running the school”. They know that I think that time stands still on those precious moments of our lessons. Many, many, many times I glance at the clock and to my amazement, the lesson time has passed. I often say to my partner “You are time thief. You stole another lesson that went by in a moment!” We always have a great laugh and a hug as we realize our lesson passed in a blink of the eye.
In finishing this message, I realize that I will never be able to dance enough for the rest of my life. In 8 years I will celebrate my 50th year with Arthur Murray. I promise you that I will enjoy every moment until then, for I know I will look back to today, and it will seem but a joyous, beautiful moment in time.
Yes, make good use of your time. Dance. Let time stand still for you. Rediscover your best you and return to your best health and happiness for those precious moments of moving on the dance floor.
A few years ago, a family brought to the studio their great, great grandmother. She was on a walker and seemed very frail. She did not speak English. I asked her great, great granddaughter to ask her if she would like to dance with me. The family immediately started saying No No No and to my great amazement, this frail woman had understood me and she stood up on her own and gave me her hand. We danced a whole song as the family pulled out their cell phone cameras. In my arms for those moments was a young girl, swaying and moving to the music, happy and young again.
At the end, the whole school applauded and the family had tears in their eyes, and the great, great grandmother kissed me on the cheek and gave me a hug. I helped her back to her seat and I was in love. I will never forget that dance. I will never forget that moment. I will never forget that magic use of time, a moment of time that stood still for us both.
Thanks for reading!
David Earl Woodbury
Keep on Dancing!