When you are dancing, if you think about the mistake you just made, it colors everything that comes after it. You cannot then be present in the moment to enjoy what you’re doing “right,” right now. The result of not letting go is that you end up re-creating what you do not want to re-create.
Further, this is an age old theme. I am a lover of Jane Austen. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth says to Darcy, “You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.” This is a simple iteration of what we hear again and again. What we focus on is what we experience. And if we focus on the unhappy events of the past we color our present with those unhappy memories. There’s no escaping that.
It is always amazing to me that these concepts are not new. We think forms of dance are new, but they’re not. We think we are the only generation that discovered real, enjoyable sex as if our parents and grandparents didn’t feel what we feel.
I was told by one of my insane grandmothers (no baking cookies or bedtime stories there) that “I would rather see you dead and lying in your coffin than know you had ‘Gone Wrong.” (As in, “You know that neighbor’s girl? She’s gone wrong!”)
In my home, “gone wrong” meant pre-marital sex. Really? Dead? You’d rather I was DEAD?!?!” Hmmmmmmm. Sex and death. You wouldn’t think they’d be associated post-18th century. It’s a wonder I wasn’t the Mayflower Madam or Heidi Fleiss after all that.
My point is that no matter how traumatic or weird your past might be, it doesn’t help to dwell on it or believe that what your elders said was true. If your dad was Atticus Finch, then maybe you should believe what he told you. But if you are like the rest of us, just because there is a tape playing in your brain, it doesn’t make the words true.
The past does not have to define you, unless you cannot let go of it. I could be a whore or a nun, but I choose to be neither. I choose to define myself by my own judgment. And yes, sometimes that judgment is clouded by the past voices that still reside in my head. But I know those voices are of the past and need not control my life now.
At times, I have to literally say “stop!” to those voices and dig deep to find myself and my own reasoning in the choices I make.
So dance in this moment; live in this moment. You are who you are right now, judged only by your own internal compass, defined by yourself, regardless of the past.
You are who you say you are. And that’s a really good start.