Just Because I’m Sick Doesn’t Mean I Can’t Dance
I have been fighting a cold for several weeks and this past weekend, I developed a secondary bacterial infection. It isn’t serious and the antibiotics are helping tremendously, but I am still fighting the original virus. In the midst of this illness, I am remembering a day during my InterPlay Leadership training.
It was winter. I was pregnant and ill. It was a standard winter virus, but because I was pregnant, I couldn’t take medicine to relieve the worst symptoms. I was grumpy and feeling sorry for myself. I hated to miss any of the InterPlay training, so I dragged myself to class. I did not dance with the group, but witnessing them helped me feel better. At the end of the day, I had a Focus Session, a time when the group focused on witnessing me and my stories.
I was angry about being ill during a Focus Session. When I have a chance to take the space, I like to take it all, to fill it with my energy, my movement, my body, and my words. But with my illness, I could barely move. I was miserable.
Phil Porter, one of the founders of InterPlay, took the lead in guiding my Focus Session that day. He suggested a do a One Hand Dance. A One Hand Dance is exactly what it sounds like. You let one hand dance. I had always hated One Hand Dances, but I thought, ‘why not?’ I had no energy to dance with any more of my body than one hand, so I might as well.
Phil put on some music. I closed my eyes to focus on the sound and let my right hand start to move with the music. For the first time, I understood the beauty of the form. I had no impulse to move more of my body than the hand and my forearm, with slight rotations of the shoulder to ease the movement. But, with that part of my body, I was dancing, truly dancing. The movement led me to a sense of peace with the illness, compassion for my struggling body, and gratitude that I could still dance.
After the One Hand Dance, Phil encouraged me to sing a lullaby to my unborn child and I sang one of the most beautiful, compassionate, and loving songs I have ever sung. In the place of vulnerability and care for myself that I had touched during the One Hand Dance, I had opened myself deeply to the weakness and wonder of a child and sang with all the love I had to give.
The One Hand Dance has not been the same for me since. I have a use for it. If I am healthy, I still prefer practices that use my whole body and allow me to take up space that is bigger than my physical body. But, when I am sick, I know the One Hand Dance is waiting for me to come and dance.