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Never Too Late . . . to Dance!

Remember that old adage, “It’s never too late”?

Yesterday, I found myself living out the expression.

I was dancing.  Yes, dancing. For those who can’t relate to dancing, let me move the marker. Maybe you thought it was too late in life for singing, painting, cycling, traveling, building, creating or any other –ing you can imagine.

In my case, dancing was something I silently wished to do 35 years ago yet, despite a major lapse in time, I was experiencing that secret desire between 9 and 10 am yesterday morning.

There is no hard luck story about a poor-little-me; instead, I merely experienced youth as a bookworm with limited social exposure. So when most young girls my age were dancing, I remained hidden, and nearly obscured, in the shadows of mere observation.

Yesterday brought me to my familiar Dance Fusion class at the Safety Harbor Resort & Spa. The instructor generally takes students on a trip around the world through dance, but she decided instead to feature a newly purchased CD – one that proved very old and special to me.

“Do you remember….the twenty-third day of September?”  Sounds from Earth, Wind & Fire suddenly emanated through a brightly lit, mirror-encapsulated gym. In a single moment, I found myself time-warped.

I was transported to a September night in 1977 when I played spectator at an on-campus event. One of just a few all-girl dorms at Boston College, Williams opened its cellar doors to a sophomore dance party. The place brimmed with excitement, energy and the kind of anticipation that accompanies teens on the brink of adulthood.

From somewhere in the shadows, I watched. Preppy looking coeds and guys either naturally confident or semi-inebriated moved to the rhythms of Earth, Wind and Fire, the late 70s R&B sensation.  

That indelible moment struck me: I loved watching others dance, but longed be part of the music myself. Like the librarian who slips out to watch Saturday matinees and vicariously experience the other side of life, I was doing the same. In my case, I wasn’t seated in a red velvet chair at the local movie theater. I was there, standing in the corner, watching real people dance.

So it was shocking yesterday as that profound moment from September 1977 returned. Here I was, 35 years after the fact, hearing the very same music and dancing freely, happily and full of bodily expression. I was living, totally and physically engaged in the moment.

With only a handful of us in class, one of whom was a professional flamenco dancer, our instructor had us moving to all kinds of increasingly interrelated jazz steps.

I wasn’t 19, I wasn’t dressed in preppy clothing, and I was no longer an undergrad. Instead, I was shoeless, attired in black and aquamarine dance wear, and beaming with my own sense of happiness.

I was no longer just a dance student; I was a participant capable of keeping up with my instructor. Who would have guessed from that darkened moment in September 1977 that there remained a moment in 2012 known as now?

Who would have known in 1977 of my future? Would I guess that I’d one day have an instructor who began studying classical ballet at the age of 6 and expanded her dancing talents ever since? When most Americans wouldn’t consider the thought, my instructor traveled to Dubai to perform and instruct in Middle Eastern dance.

Coupled with a passion for history and cultures, Alexandra Treiber’s breadth of dance experience is now mine to learn from and contribute to in her Dance Fusion classes. The woman who sees dance as her joy, a form of unspoken prayer translatable into any language, is now my regular instructor. She is helping me live out the adage: It’s never too late.

An elder gentleman, wise, worldly and experienced, referenced the same adage just a few weeks ago. We were conversing and I joked, “Well, it’s obviously too late for that now!”  

The elder man stopped me in mid-sentence. Looking deeply into my eyes, he intoned, “It’s never too late.”

The older man referenced the adage for reasons having nothing to do with dance. Yet, just weeks later, I would find myself living out the words in a completely different setting.

It is never too late. I’m no longer 19 or back in college. But I can currently experience the very joy of living in the moment I secretly hoped for years ago. I could come out from shadows and enter the spotlight. My spotlight has nothing to do with TV lights, mirror balls or Dancing with the Stars competitions.

Instead, my emergence from darkness involved bringing forth an inner wish to express my joy rather than having to rely on others to do it for me. I was no longer a spectator.

I could have danced for no one at all yesterday, but I was happy to dance with other women. Dancing together, we could create a collective joy. Just like what I watched that particular night in September 1977 on the Boston College campus…only different. 

I’m often humored for holding out a childlike belief in dreams becoming reality. But dreams that arise from the heart run deep. Childlike dreams are not tainted by thoughts of competition, retribution or even revenge. Somehow, these dreams are meant to be expressed…even if in a different form than how we first imagined them.

As we come to believe it is never too late, we can anticipate the personal rewards of good thoughts and pleasantly designed intentions. These dreams wouldn’t think to harm others: to the contrary, they would bring about good wishes, good will and happiness.

It’s never too late for those hidden wishes of your heart to come and surprise you today.  Whether it’s dancing, writing, singing, building, playing or creating, what are you waiting for?

It’s Never Too Late.

Maura is an International Speaker on Self Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

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