(Yes, that’s what she said.)
Today I was reminded of a post in Naomi Uyama’s old MySpace blog. Even though this was written 4 years ago, it is still so very very true today.
“When I started dancing almost 10 years ago I didn’t have a goal to get where I’m at now really. I don’t know what I would have said if you’d told me then I’d be making a living from it. I just enjoyed it so much I wanted to do it as much as I could, I soaked up any and all information like a little sponge, and my greatest dream was to someday be in a jam. I see some newbies with these goals of winning big contests and becoming big names and I wonder how much they genuinely enjoy lindy hop itself. Like they could substitute squash, or tiddly winks, or tetris for it if those could give them the same returns they believe they can get from the dance world.”
I feel like more and more nowadays people are becoming obsessed with winning and titles and social status. Are they trying to find validation for themselves? For their dancing? Is this how they think they will feel fulfilled? If so, what they seek is futile. They won’t find their fulfillment in these places. In fact they probably won’t ever find fulfillment.
For me, fulfillment comes from just dancing. Every second I get to dance I value and cherish deeply. Fulfillment for me is loving the dance so much you can barely stand it, till it hurts. And it’s frustrating, and lovely, and fantastic, and heartbreaking, and exhilarating, and addicting, and enthralling, and life sucking, and so many more other things you feel all at once.
For me dancing is communicating. Communicating how much I love this dance, what my ideas are about the dance, about the music being played at that moment. And I’m not just communicating these things to my partner, I’m communicating these things to anyone who glances at me as the pass by, or whoever happens to catch a glimpse of me in a jack and jill prelim. That is why competitions are such powerful experiences for me.
Naomi writes that her ability to make a living from this dance is just a bonus of her loving the dance so much. It’s just a side benefit, it’s not something she’s climbing towards. She’s happy just to be able to dance. And that’s one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever read.
Another quote from Naomi for the road which has also affected me deeply:
“I am a lover of analogies, it can get a little ridiculous, but here is one of my faves. Imagine that all the lindy hoppers out there are people running in a pack. There are all kinds of runners, some faster, some slower. Though they move together they are running for different reasons. Some run like it is a race, they are moving forward to be first, to be faster than others, to win. Others run towards the horizon, a distant, beautiful, point that cannot be reached. They move forward so that we all may move forward, they know the secret lies in the exhilaration of running itself.
So here is the funny thing about “racers”. They stare at the backs of the people in front of them and and toil to beat them, but if they ever did pull ahead to the very front of the pack guess what would happen- they would stop dead in their tracks. Their goal would be achieved, they would stop running, the dance would stop moving forward. It is the ones who see the horizon, the runners who are in for the journey and not the destination that will always continue. They feel less the work of it and more the joy in it. Those are the dancers that inspire me.”