I recently found myself on a stage looking into the face of an Aztec fire dancer from Mexico City. His eyes were bright, cheerful and slightly mischievous. As he explained the rules of the dance off (for which my husband had volunteered me) to myself and the other contestants, this man seemed amused by the fear in our eyes. And then he let us off the hook. He said kindly that it doesn’t matter how we dance. It doesn’t matter who gets the most applause. It doesn’t matter how we look. All that matters is that we enjoy this moment together.
So, I danced. Very badly. But I did breathe in the moment. And I will always remember it.
I love people. I am fascinated by their stories, their struggles, their triumphs, their talents. I am amazed by little moments, small connections, unexpected exchanges, meaningful experiences. It is in these moments that we are engaged with our fellow human beings. When we are engaged, we are learning. When we are learning, we are alive. I felt alive that day.
We were at Artifest, a multicultural art and history festival at the Museum of Indian Culture in Allentown, PA. This was a very affordable family event full of music, dance and educational opportunities. It was also a beautiful day. We saw many styles of dance and heard a variety of music. We sampled foods inspired by different cultures and learned about nature and art. But mostly, we enjoyed the moments together. The sun on our faces. The breezes against our skin. The melodies urging us to sway. The inspiration that comes from watching others do what makes them feel alive.
We are always looking for opportunities to give ourselves and our children the kind of experiences we had at Artifest. Sometimes it’s a bust. Sometimes there is crankiness and frustration and whining (theirs or ours). Sometimes it just doesn’t work. Sometimes we ask ourselves why the hell we bother.
But then we have a day like this one. When everything falls into place. On those days, I know exactly why we bother. Why we go through all the insanity of dragging three young children to festivals and concerts and small towns and big cities and down creeks and up mountains and along the whole length of the U.S. east coast in a minivan. Because on the days when it works, we feel alive. And that feeling is worth the work it takes to get there. Every time.
- The butterflies led us (slightly) south
- Actions teach louder than words