5Rhythms Friday: Here be dragons…

…sometimes I do my best “dancing” when I’m not dancing at all…

This morning I went for a walk with Xander.

We took the path that runs behind our apartment complex and parallel to (although, fortunately, blocked by trees from) the highway. And when we came to the fork in the path, we took the road less travelled by…OK, maybe not, but the one through the woods anyway.

I love those woods. They’re just a little remnant of the forest that used to spread over what is now Clayton Park West. A gravel path runs through them. You can see apartment complexes and townhouses on either side of this meandering path, and yet…it feels…wild. You see squirrels all the time. It’s oddly quiet for a place so near the highway. It’s great for toddler-exploration because there is absolutely no risk of cars.

So I let Xander run on ahead as usual, and as I followed behind my mind started sparking away, as it always does when I’m doing something movement-related.

I watched as he went off the path and picked up a stick. “Dis is my sword!” he declared, “I’m fighting dragons!”

Watching a toddler’s mind at work is a fascinating thing. I watched him move through the woods looking for “dragons.” Some logs and branches were merely obstacles to be climbed over or crawled under as he continued on his way. Others were very definitely “dragons.” As an outside observer I couldn’t always tell which was going to be which.

(this one was a dragon)

Similarly, I couldn’t tell when he would ask for my help. Some obstacles he scaled or avoided all on his own, as if they were nothing. Others he was totally paralyzed by, and he would stand still and call until I came to his rescue with a boost or a hand or whatever support he needed.

And as we moved through the woods I smiled to myself. Because I realized that being a toddler is no different from being a grown-up. Not really. We move through the woods. There’s a path, a safe road, but we don’t have to take it unless we feel like it. Really, there’s no wrong way to go. And along the way we encounter obstacles.

Some of them we scale, duck under, or avoid with no problem…we may not even notice they’re there. Others completely paralyze us, and leave us calling desperately for a hand. An outside observer may have no idea why one of two seemingly equal obstacles “gets” us. Because the difference is in our minds. And the dragons we fight? To someone else that “dragon” might just look like any other tree. It’s in our mind that it becomes massive and terrifying and in need of a few solid whacks with a “sword.”

And that gives me hope in a weird way…because if the dragons are only in our mind…then there really is no wrong way to go, and absolutely anything is surmountable if we decide that it is. It’s also nice to know that when one of those obstacles completely flummoxes us, there are loving, supportive people who hear our calls for help and are always there to lend us a hand and help us slay our dragon…or climb to the top of our hill.

(Victory!)

“Aren’t you supposed to be writing about dance today?” my inner critics ask. And I reply, “Darlings, this is about dance. It’s about everything. There isn’t any difference between dance and the rest of life. Dancing is the physical expression of identity, emotion, and spirit. And there, as anywhere, be dragons. But only in our minds.”

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