The Grateful Dead, Creativity, and Heart

Here at Sangha, we brag a little bit about our youngest dancer Daniel. He started dancing tango in April 2011, which was a good 5 month head start on me! This past week, we celebrated his high school graduation with dirt, a few happy tears, and some partying that lasted a few days (p.s. his family’s party had a super cool band AND hula hoops!). This kid is just astounding for oh-so-many reasons.

As a tango dancer, he has a pretty impressive vocabulary. Even more than that, he knows how and when to use it. One of our yoga teachers put on her first pair of heels recently, feeling comfortable enough to try out the fashionable choice of stilts as she moves about the floor. She danced with Daniel and later on spoke to me and recalled the dance, “Daniel is great. He totally danced to my level and I really appreciated it.”

As a learner, he has taught me the joy that determination brings. We can practice something for a whole half hour, for the greater part of a practica, or for weeks at a time. I think I’ve only seem him frustrated or dejected once. His determination doesn’t come from a fear of failure and this realization was profound to me. I grew up very familiar with doing something over and over again for the reason that I didn’t want to acknowledge a lack of some skill. Daniel, though….he enjoys the process. He tries something again and again because it’s new each time. He finds something different to discover as he tries something out. I gotta hand it to him, this is something valuable when it comes to learning and I really look up to him in this.

Another cool thing about Daniel is that he could be from a different decade. Loves Grateful Dead, the Beatles, and has rock star hair. I think it is natural for artists to combine their interests with their work….I mean, if we call a collection of matter in a crafted form art, that collection has to come from something we know, right? And Daniel knows music like it’s the resting room of his heart. He learned about metals and jewelry this year and it didn’t take long before his designs incorporated some of his cherished musical preferences. I’m chuckling as I write this…cause, ya know, the things he makes are things I would have never imagined of creating and they are REALLY neat. He makes cool stuff and his love for creating it all is incredibly fun to see. I guarantee you that if you ask him what he has made recently, his eyes will light up and he will probably reach into the pocket of his jeans and whip it out. (By the way, he takes custom orders…just to let you know!)

I have loved getting to know Daniel the last few years. One of the most enjoyable aspects of knowing him is supporting what he is passionate about. The way his enthusiasm is flicked on like a light when you ask him about any one of his passions…it is incomparable to many other joys in life. This is that kid-like excitement that suddenly puts a smile on your face.

Daniel is opposite to me when it comes to our interactions in crowds. While I find an uncontainable energy from being around people, his quietness and his characteristic of being reserved in larger groups have given him some of the wisest observations. I think this is how he has come to acquire what his teacher Lori calls a “quiet soul”. He’s got a deep capacity for love and his passions are only a few of the major pathways he makes that four letter word a verb.

It is significant to note that Daniel, who came to tango at the age of 16, is a cub in the pride of tango. What exactly brings someone who is about 25 years younger than the average dancer to Sangha? Maybe our life experiences aren’t that different across the age gap? I think Daniel might have a taste of the “adult” emotions, such as sadness, worry, and stress, than is typical of the purity and innocence of someone his age. For some of us, I know that we have come to care for Daniel in very gentle, nurturing ways. For me, it feels like I can glimpse two places in time at once when I see Daniel; I can see his pure, child-like approach to discoveries and people and then I can see the burden of grown-up cares (the way a head is suddenly turned towards ‘more important things’).

So here is to pursuing passions like they are resting rooms in our hearts, to always discovering something new about things we do often, and to sharing the discovery in the learning process with people we realize we can call family. Thank you Daniel, for inspiring me to do all of these things and to ignoring age gaps!


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