The Before and After
A tango friend, we’ll call her Nicole, recently confided to me that she has always felt alone in life. Wherever she’s been, whatever people group or activity group she’s been a part of…family, friends, school, work, social leisure activities….there has always been a feeling of being alone, separate from others.
….Tango has been the first place Nicole doesn’t feel alone. It’s like tango saved her. As in, her life is not the same as it was before. Tango might not have saved her in the sense of guaranteeing a place for her or an eternity of happiness, success, or fortune in the future but it did save her from the life she had before. Her life is not the same. Nicole’s got something new and it’s a sense of belonging, of fulfillment, of being important.
I know so many stories similar to Nicole’s…that people have found a salvation of sorts when they started dancing tango. As if tango has been a catalyst for transformation in their lives. “Before tango, I was scared….” some say. Or lonely. Or ungrateful. Or unaware of how they were hurting others. Or how unloving they were to themselves. I whole-heartedly believe tango can be this powerful agent of change….I’ve seen it. I don’t believe everyone’s on board for trying it or letting it be something so powerful. And that’s really ok. I believe they can find this in something else they discover…maybe rock climbing? Maybe through being a mountain ranger? Maybe through biking? Maybe through book clubs? Maybe through becoming a parent? Maybe through owning a pet? Maybe through living abroad? Maybe through yoga? Maybe through church…maybe through a spiritual practice?
Through all this, I keep thinking about Jesus. I’ve heard so many testimonies of people who’ve shared that once they know Jesus, “the very fabric of [their] life changed.” I don’t have one of those testimonies. I grew up in church and got a sprinkling baptism as a baby. I said a ‘sinner’s prayer’ at 11 and had an adult baptism at 20 where I got fully dunked. Every part of my life seemed very typical for a “Christian”. I wonder what my “Christian” life would look like if I did have a story like this….if the difference of ‘before’ and ‘after’ would be so radical? I know that I feel like my life radically changed when I became a part of the tango community. I know I found a healing through being held. I know that it makes so much sense to me to feel how much Jesus, or a greater kind of Love, is in each embrace I have. Even the creepy ones, rare they are…I know I am safe and protected and prepared to handle danger. You may hold a different truth, call it destiny or fate, but I think that no one but Love could have given me the community that has taught me these things.
When tango found it’s way into my life, I accepted it with resistance. I knew there was something about it that I just couldn’t put my finger on, it had something significant to offer me that would be BIG. I loved that it wasn’t something I could do on my own. I was also aggravated that it wasn’t something I could do on my own. I couldn’t find success in learning the moves as quickly as I could if I was doing it on my own. At the time I viewed my sadness as my enemy that I wanted to push away…that it was this negative thing that was holding me back. Meeting tango, it was like Tango said to Sadness, “Come to my arms, I’ll hold you and it will be ok.” Hope became part of it all. With sadness and tango, there was hope for something yet to come. For me, that something is the discovery of what love is. And there are so many kinds of love! There is so much I am learning about giving and receiving love to myself and others. I want to be the kind of dancer, as a leader and follower, that gives and receives love with every breath in every embrace I share on the dance floor. When I can do that, I’ve found that it overflows into areas of my life OFF of the dance floor.
So I guess I have a question I’d like to ponder with you: Is it possible for hearts to be “saved” from their previous life; the unhealthy practices, the “bad” influences, the feelings of being lost and lonely and unloved, the hate they experience directed towards themselves and others? What does it take? What’s the criteria for a practice to have in order to have the possibility of this happening?