The Secret to Happiness: Sing Off-key and Dance Off-beat

I’ve been thinking a lot about dancing this week.  And it’s no wonder.  I spent eight hours… yes, I counted them…. eight hours … hemming a dance costume with a full skirt and a design on the bottom that required creative hemming.

There are people who would say I wasted eight hours of my life when I could have paid a seamstress who would have prevented any worry about uneven edges or stitches that show.

But, I think those were eight well-spent hours. First, they required me to slow down and concentrate on a skill I learned over thirty years ago and have done my best to avoid ever since. Second, they required me to think about a talent I never had and a type of performance  that I never really enjoyed watching.

As my daughter just told me, “Mom, you don’t dance.”

To the best of her – and most people’s knowledge – she’s right. Except for time spent in clubs in my younger days, I don’t dance.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been told since I was very small that I don’t have any rhythm. Maybe it’s because I’m one of those people whose intellectual abilities don’t translate into a mind-body connection.  And maybe it’s because I’ve always been hesitant, with the exception of taking belly dancing in college, to try anything at which I’m not positive I can excel.

Whatever the reason, I’ve never been one to dance in public.

But dancing in private is entirely different.

I love to dance when no one is watching. When there are no specific moves I have to know. When I can just feel the music and go with it.

I remember spending hours as an adolescent dancing in my basement while I listened to my favorite songs.  I would have been horrified if anyone had seen me. But at the time?  I was joyful.

The same goes for singing.  I love to sing.  I love to belt songs at the top of my lungs or to sing softly when I’m feeling an intimate connection to lyrics.

But I only do that in private.

In church, I generally mouth the hymns for fear of frightening the people in the pews in front of me. And one of my recurring nightmares is having to sing on stage.

But my daughter?  She sings. She really sings. She just belts out songs at the top of her lungs regardless of the location, but especially in church.

I think she’s started singing before she could even talk. In pre-school, the teachers said they always knew exactly where she was because all they had to do was follow the music. She narrated her life through songs she made up.

And now she’s dancing too.

And, while she does both much better than I ever dreamed of, I also know she’s not the most talented child in either department.

But what she lacks in talent she makes up for in passion. And sheer joy.

Which serves as a reminder to me about what life is all about.

It’s not about doing everything perfectly. And it’s not about worrying about what other people think. And it’s not about excelling.

It’s about making the most of every minute. It’s about It’s about expressing yourself. And it’s about just being happy with what life hands you.

And sometimes that means that it’s about singing off-key and dancing out of rhythm.

Because at those moments, when you are living life to its fullest without worrying about living it perfectly?  That’s the true secret of happiness.

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About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, a daughter in high school, a son starting his latest adventures at West Virginia University and a husband who works strange hours. When I'm not working as a director at a nonprofit social service organization or being a mom, I can generally be found riding my bike, walking my dog and stirring things up.

Posted on June 10, 2011, in My life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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