The Little Ballerina Wannabe

degas dancer

 Degas Dancer

She always enjoyed watching the ballerinas in their gathered tulle skirts and elegant toe shoes – they always looked so graceful, supple and had wonderful flexibility.  She wanted to be one of them but always felt she couldn’t because she was an overweight child and her parents didn’t have the money for lessons.  It was that way when she watched the ice skaters, they too were graceful, elegant and could bend into amazing poses.  It has always been that same feeling of wondering what might have been all her life.

Then, when she was in her 60’s, a lifetime away from being able to fulfill her wish, she had cause to re-examine her longing to be a ballerina.  Did she really want to do it, have a love and passion for it? She would have to lose weight to qualify and be able to do all the poses and positions required – not an easy accomplishment.  Was she willing to do the hard work of lessons, practice, extra classes and tryouts for parts? Would she have been willing to dedicate her life to working hard, foregoing many of life’s pleasures to maintain her strength, endurance and flexibility?

The more she thought about it, she realized it was the grace, elegance and flexibility the ballerinas had, everything she felt she didn’t have.  The idea of a slender, supple body was appealing as well as being able to do the lifts and jumps in ballets like “Swan Lake” and “Coppelia”.  But over the years she had seen what dancing had done to a ballerina’s feet, put into positions the human foot was never meant to hold.

It was as if she was looking down at her feet, clad in beautiful ballet slippers and a long full tulle skirt – what did she see in her mind’s eye?  She realized how confining a ballerina’s life is, everything is geared to her dancing, always taking such care to ensure she can dance as long as possible.  And what would she do after she could no longer dance?  Would she be relegated to teaching the new and budding ballerinas, wishing she was still able to be the lead dancer and feeling her life was over?

Or would it be a relief to give those tired, abused feet a chance to rest and have a “normal” life of ease and fun?  Would she be able to relax and enjoy the things in life she had had to forego to continue dancing?  Would she find she was out-of-place because she wasn’t part of the dance world, that she would have to start a whole new chapter for her future?  Then dancing could be for her own pleasure when she decided.

How strange to see this childhood wish in an entirely different light.  As she looked back on her life, she realized she had had adventures, interesting experiences, uncomfortable times and experienced so many new things – all of which didn’t necessary require suppleness, flexibility and strength.

Yes, the events and challenges in her life gave her flexibility, but of an emotional and mental kind, to be able to roll with the punches and deal with what can be a very limiting chronic illness.  Her strength had become continuing to work with what she was able to do, learn patience and conserve her energy while not allowing the illness to rule her life.  The suppleness came as acceptance, seeing the positives in the situation and being of help and support to others.

Although she doesn’t feel physically graceful yet, she handles it with grace and humor rather than with anger and feeling an innocent victim. Now it is more a matter of being grateful for what she has gained instead of wishing for something that’s not physically possible.

She has all the qualities she admires in a ballerina, they just show up in a different way and context.  Sometimes what one wants doesn’t always have to be a certain form, it’s important to ask for what you want but not to be inflexible by insisting it only be one way.  Ask for what you want, but also be open to whatever works, what ever comes for your highest good.  You would be amazed at what happens – many times it comes in ways you could not dream up yourself.

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