Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Contrasting Experiences

Unrelated occurrences, when viewed side-by-side, often mesh together in the most poignant ways.

After class with my eighth graders today, a few of the kids waited for me to ask if I could come to dance lessons at four this afternoon. I hadn't planned on going. I told them that I wasn't sure since I was going to make up the conversation group that we missed yesterday. They looked so disappointed, so I said that I would try to make it - that brought smiles and nods of approval. (Their smiles are so beautiful.) My conversation group was small, and we were all hungry, so we talked for only 30 minutes and then called it quits. I walked home with two of the girls from my group (so we got in 10 more minutes of English) and ate a quick bite before changing my clothes and walking back to the pavilion. I made it there just at four o'clock. The dance teacher wasn't there yet, so my girls, Mari, Mari, and Tamuna led me through the steps that I had learned on Saturday. The steps that I learned are not complicated, nor are the arm-motions -- but putting them together and keeping my hands in the proper position are tricky. "Georgian hands," as one of the Mari's called them, are very specific. All of the fingers remain straight with the middle and ring fingers in line with the lower arm. The first and pinky fingers angle back, away from the palm, with the thumb partially closed over the palm, parallel to the two middle fingers. Every time they corrected my hand-position, I kept it right for about 15 seconds until I focused on my feet or arms, and lost the fingers! I'll have to walk around for a few days with my "Georgian hands" until it feels natural! We floated across the floor, moving as smoothly and delicately as possible. It's not easy to dance keeping your head in a perfectly level line at all times - no bouncing, no jerky motions - just smooth grace personified. It is a good thing my muscles are strong - from my feet up! The steps are all done on tip-toe - I'm thankful for runner's feet and calves! When the dance teacher arrived, I sat down to watch the kids practice for a show they are putting on for New Year's. I watched the girls' positioning very carefully. Most of them have been dancing since they were very small, so they are lovely to watch! And the boys -- they dance with such vigor and gusto! I don't know how they move so fast - and they keep their heads in one level line, too.

My phone rang. I had put it on the stage when I started dancing, and one of the students ran it over to me when it started in. I saw that it said, "James," so I took it outside to answer it. (James is another TLG teacher that was part of my intake group.) He called to tell me that he had just seen a house burn down in his village. How awful! He didn't think anyone was hurt, but he said that there were some very upset ladies in front of the house. There wasn't really anything that could be done since any fire department is quite far away, and the water pressure, if there is running water is not strong enough to shoot across the lawn, let alone battle any flames. People filled buckets of water from a ditch and threw them on the fire, but that didn't really help. So he stood there with the others and watched the house burn. He was shaken up from the experience, and rightfully so! He said that he was thankful that there wasn't much wind today, otherwise more houses would have caught fire, for sure.

Unrelated occurrences: Georgian dance and a house fire. During my run after dance lessons, I thought about these two things. At the same moment that I was floating across the floor with my students, James was watching a house burn down with his. One of us was witnessing the building of the community and the other, the destruction of it. One of us felt the connection to past tradition, and the other, the severing of a connection. I felt the hope of the future dancers; James felt the sorrow of a lost home. The duality of life is always present around us everywhere, but we often lack the vision to see it. Connecting these experiences gives me a wider view of reality and a greater appreciation for the great gifts of Life and Breath.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for another thoughtful and reflective post. There are so many contrasts out here. I watched some of my favorite students practice dancing today and was so impressed - I'm wicked excited about their performance tomorrow.

    Also, for your readers, I later learned the burning structure was a barn, not a house, which was a big relief. Nobody was hurt, not sure about the animals. Still an experience I will remember forever.