“Yougottadance. Aslongasthemusicplays. Yougotta dance. Don’teventhinkwhy. Starttothink, yourfeetstop. Yourfeetstop, wegetstuck. Wegetstuck, you’restuck. Sodon’tpayanymind, nomatterhowdumb. Yougottakeepthestep. Yougottalimberup. Yougottaloosenwhatyoubolteddown. Yougottauseallyougot. Weknowyou’re tired, tiredandscared. Happenstoeveryone, okay? Justdon’tletyourfeetstop.” ― Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance
7:00 p.m. Table Mountain summit, Cape Town, South Africa.
The sun is setting, and we are dancing.
Two hundred participants, most dressed in white, headphones on—we are praising the earth, this mountain, the clouds streaming across the rocks and bathing the world in dreamlike mist.
It’s my first time at a “Secret Sunrise” (or, in this case, Secret Sunset) event.
I’ve taken the hard way up, along with one friend and two strangers picked up along the way, and my endorphins are already surging after a two-and-a-half-hour hike.
But the world is in chaos.
I can’t glance at Facebook, work a shift at elephant journal, or even have a casual conversation without this truth becoming painfully apparent.
I, like many, feel compelled to do something say something change something—but, paralyzed by the overwhelming madness of it, I do little, say little, change little. And yet, and yet, and yet—every day I work to promote mindfulness. Every day I write to nurture cross-cultural understanding. Soon, I will return to school to study the art of peacebuilding.
And yet, and yet, and yet—more importantly, in my humble opinion—every day I seek joy.
The world is full of fear. So I fight my own demons. The world is full of chaos, and so I strive for inner balance. The world is full of uncertainty, so I dance with it.*
And here we are. Dancing.
Piano keys draw clouds through the sky. Eighties rock compels bodies—eight years old to eighty-eight—to move to the same beat. House music lifts feet up, gravity-defying, and down, solid and real.
Each of us in our own headphone-cordoned world, we dance. Alone and together. And hell, if that’s not an apt metaphor, I don’t know what is.
Alone and wrapped up in our own worlds, we are all nonetheless connected to one another by the same melodies in our ears, the same rhythm in our blood, the same music in our bones. We are all dancing, whether we realize it or not, on the same sacred ground.
So, is this an odd time to be turning to joy, music, community?
I don’t think so. In fact, I’d say that moments of chaos, uncertainty, fear are very much the right time to dance. To connect, however we do that. To create. To keep pushing for meaning.
Because if we lose that now, then we’ve lost.
So dance—not in spite of the chaos, but for it, with it, and through it.
Dance—”as long as the music plays.”
Dance—and don’t stop, because the world, chaos and all, is still spinning.
*This is a poetic response to turmoil; none of it is meant to underplay the value of activism in our current global climate. Act. Protest. Make change, by all means. But don’t forget the value of personal growth. I genuinely believe in “the power that living a good life can have,” as a friend once put it. Ideally, do both!
Photo Credit: Juliette Bisset Photography