When I was a young girl I remember numerous accounts of wanting to be older, to be independent and make my own decisions. From being allowed to venture off with friends on my own, to decide what time my curfew would be. Yes, each step of the way I distinctly remember wanting to be a few steps ahead of where I was at the time. People would say to me, “When you get older you’ll miss this point in time.” I didn't doubt that, but it didn't change my feelings of longing to be at that next step in life.
Speaking of the “next step,” I have found that I am not alone in the endeavor to be ahead. During my summer intensives I witnessed this from many of my students: wanting to learn movements that are ahead of their technical ability at this moment in time. This is not a bad trait to have as I believe it to be a part of what inspires us to learn and grow. However, if we took a step back and lived in the moment we would build stronger foundations and be more apt to deal with what’s to come, both in dance and in life.
Many of us do not live in the moment. We spend the current moment preparing for the moment, day, week, month to come. We need to discipline ourselves to appreciate the moment we are in. We live in such a fast-paced world that, if we do not do so, time will elude us, lessons will be lost and we will always be left chasing that next step or wishing there were more hours in a day! A very wise teacher of mine used to say, “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” So, how do we find the balance between being prepared and living in the moment?
I always thought to be prepared was to be organized and to always be one step ahead. That is not the case. Here’s how I see it:
Any dancer knows to stay on balance we are required to have equal “pulls.” Just to stand in 1st position in ballet we need to push down through the front into the floor to pull up through the back, rotate our legs equally from the hips, create a curve through the arms, feeling the elbows floating sideways whist rotating the wrists in towards each other, feel the breadth across the back whilst equally engaging the lats and allowing the head to be relaxed and easy on the top. Gosh, that’s a lot to think about just for standing still! It requires practice. A lot of practice! So, say we have mastered the correct technique and we have fully accomplished standing in 1st position. Now we are required to développé (to develop) our leg into arabesque and pivot around in a circle. If our mind is not in the moment and is already on that next step, the chances are that we will not execute the transition correctly. This will result in not being in the correct alignment and unable to balance to complete the movement. I used this example because, in life, we have a million and one things to coordinate just as we do to stand in 1st position. But with determination, practice and commitment to live in each moment, we are creating an amazing opportunity to appreciate and execute the task at hand correctly. We are then preparing ourselves for that next step to ensure we are ready for it and able to complete it without the imbalance and struggle. Please note, when I say “with no struggle,” that does not mean “with no hard work!” So, in fact, balance is created by being prepared, a direct result of living in the moment!
Time is so precious, goes by so fast and is a gift. So, I encourage you all to truly live in the moment, do not miss out on what life offers at that time, whatever it may be … Lessons to be learnt/beautiful autumn colours/“good morning” greetings from a stranger/mischievous grins from your child/the fresh smell after the rain/the quiet support from a friend/the encouragement from your spouse/the bullies’ behaviour and how it affects those around them/that special song on the radio/the amazing wonders of this world and those who inhabit it!
Yes, NOW is the time you find your balance!