Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Things I Carry

Tonight is my first Beginners' Bollywood dance class. I am 1% excited, 99% scared.

For the past three months, I've been underground, planning and scheming and preparing my three-pronged plan: teaching dance, yoga, and writing. I've designed classes, designed posters, designed a website. I imagined a big party to officially launch this new phase of my life, but life happens so out of order, that suddenly the day of my first class is here, a random Tuesday in the middle of August and there has been no party, just hard work.

For tonight, I have prepared a dance to teach. It is basic, 'for beginners' as advertised. It incorporates elements of classical Indian moves, bhangra moves, and silly Bollywood moves. It is thought out and thoughtful because that is how I teach. I have planned a warm up routine, and a cool down routine. As back up, I've planned a dance that is just designed to play with some fun Bollywood moves. In case my dance routine goes by super fast. It is a fine line between preparation and anxiety. I carry this with me.

I have advertised on Craigslist, at coffee shops and online event calendars. I have harassed friends on Facebook to come to my new class. I've done all I can. 

Yet the voices in my head say I should have done more: I only distributed 250 flyers, I had bought 500. I should have made a meet up group. I should have posted flyers in Berkeley, not just Oakland. 

I tell myself it's not a big deal, it's only a four week class,-if it tanks, it'll be over soon.

But it is a big deal. It's more than this one dance class. It's the start of a journey. A journey which began with me saying, "Fuck it, I'm doing my own thing." 

Here are the stats on what people think of the "Fuck it" model of business: 

80% this think it's a bad idea. That it'll fail. This is not how you live life.
10 % are admiring/envious
7 % are whole-heartedly supportive
3% are on the same boat as me

I carry that too.

I carry remains of the last dance class I taught, over a year ago, through the Berkeley YWCA. At best 6 people came, at a low, 1. 

Sometimes it helps to think out the absolute worst case scenario, so I do: worst case scenario, tonight, no one shows up except Annie, my adorable friend who has agreed to take some photos for my website. We go get coffee next door. After I cry in the bathroom a while. Less horrible: 2 or 3 people show. I've taught 2 or 3 people before, I can do it again.

I think of my first novel. The one I worked on for 7 years, or is it 10. That I sent out to 40 agents, heard no thanks from 10, and then 'gave up'. Do I give up too easily? Will I fail at this because of that? Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know this is not entirely true. There is no real failure, we learn from every opportunity, etc.

The only tiny sliver of hope is the thought that came to mind during this morning's (very fraught) meditation session: I can't not.

I have to do this. I can't not do this because the risk of failure exists. That would feel even grosser than all this anxiety swirling around my stomach does.

So I'll befriend the anxiety, carry it with me, along with everything else. It, too, is part of me, part of this journey. 

For the remainder of the day, I will carry this poem by Rumi, cling to the sliver of hope in the last stanza: 

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
                                                     ~ Rumi


  1. I hope your class went well tonight. I think about your amazing vibe of strength often.

    And remember, the number of people is no reflection on you (although it is good for the ego). I've played the same film to hundreds of people (who gave it a standing ovation) and to a single person in a lonely rented classroom (where the screen rolled up half way through because the tech guy forgot to adjust the settings). It's still the same film.

    1. Thank you so much for this. It means the world to me. I love the line "It's still the same film". It's become my mantra:)