Life is a dance.
You must put your one foot forward while your partner pulls theirs back. One leads, and the other follows in a fluid movement that ignores their individuality or authority. The two become one. As one moves forward, the other glides backwards, trusting without seeing. The push and pull are simultaneous. Yet, each must independently “sense” the other’s next move to move in tandem. The one step slips into the next — combined, they dance.
The result is beautiful for participants and onlookers.
I’ve always admired people that can dance. As much as I’d like to believe I can bust a move on the floor, I can’t dance. A talent I admire is how two strangers can lock in a “lang-arm” pose and take off as if they’ve been life-long partners on “Come Dance With Me”. Whisking each other, twirling and spinning, holding on by fingertips, pulling each other, coming together again in a perfect embrace. They step off in the opposite direction confident, grinning with delight.
As a male Afrikaner, not being able to hold my own around the dance floor is an ugly blemish on my membership. I can’t remember the number of weddings and functions where I’ve been pulled onto the dancefloor by some unsuspecting Afrikaans lady, only to find out I was dead serious the first time she asked me to dance! I never agree to partake because I want to spare us both the embarrassment. My refusal is always seen as me being coy. How bad can it be, they think.
Life is dichotomous. We seek individuality while we desire community. In a recent post titled The Communal Paradox, Richard Rohr explores the paradox of life in his Daily Meditations. He references Thomas Merton, the American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist and scholar of comparative religion. “We cannot find ourselves within ourselves, but only in others, yet at the same time before we can go out to others we must first find ourselves. We must forget ourselves in order to become truly conscious of who we are. The best way to love ourselves is to love others, yet we cannot love others unless we love ourselves”.
The duality of life leaves us human beings in a constant state of flux. We are in a battle between what is worldly and what is universal. It is only when we realise that we’re one with the world — the world is in us as we are in the world — that what’s worldly becomes less important. Yet as Father Rohr points out, “It is this very paradox of life that stretches us not only to grow but to contribute to the growth of the rest of the universe around us.”
One part of us pushes us towards community. The other pulls us into ourselves, away from the universe, kinship and family. The only answer is to seek flow with the universe. To embrace both extremes of the contradiction. The spirit of Ubuntu speaks to the essence of community. Richard paraphrases from Thomas Merton’s “No Man Is an Island”
“Every other human is a piece of myself, for I am a part and a member of humankind. What I do is also done for them and with them and by them. What they do is done in me and by me and for me. But each one of us remains responsible for our own share in the life of the whole body.”
In the spirit of Ubuntu, have an awesome weekend and please be generous! 😄
As always, thanks for reading 🙏
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