When you are trying to do something new in dance (or in anything) you always start with what you can do, right now. For example, if you want to learn to do a basic turn, you start slowly. You can walk through it a couple of times and when you get comfortable, you can speed it up. Once you can do one turn, you know that you can replace that one turn with two or possibly three. But you always start with what you know you can do right now.
Last week a friend (okay, it was really my therapist) said to me that when you have a problem, you don’t start by trying to fix the problem. Instead, you start with what you know to be true. Coincidentally, a couple of days later, I was watching a movie and one of the characters, who was a mathematics professor, said to his student, who had a personal problem, “When solving a math problem you know that you never start with the unknown. You don’t start with x. You always begin with what you know to be true.”
I have a friend whose young adult son has completely rejected him. For a while, he would try to regain contact, only to be rebuffed again and again. For years, he obsessed about what he might have done differently and how on earth he managed to alienate his child. But there is no cheese at the end of that maze. It is another exercise in self-flagellation. Even if he could go back in time, would he, could he do anything differently? My friend could not “fix” this estrangement by focusing on the problem.
So finally, instead of focusing on what he did “wrong” as a parent, he thinks about what he knows is true: He raised his son with love and kindness. No one is a perfect parent, but everything he did was with his son’s best interests at heart. He loves his son. Between him and his son there is love underneath it all. Love is what connects them and will always connect them. That’s what’s true.
If we can believe the idea that love is the only truth, that anything that is not love is not true, we can start to calm down a little. We can stop trying to fix everything by looking back at what we think we should have done. We can start with what we know to be true.
What’s your truth? Begin there.